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Wood Store Review - West Penn Hardwoods

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by erikbojerik, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. I was in the NY area to visit Cornell on business, but swung through Olean NY on my way up to visit West Penn Hardwoods. Boy - I am glad that I did.

    I've visited many large hardwood dealers on the East Coast, and so far West Penn has been the most impressive. If you are within a day's drive, go there!

    They have several huge rooms at a new location and are busy filling the racks. They also have several kilns and a few rooms dedicated to air drying. They supply much of the wood that you see in smaller wood stores up and down the East Coast, but also sell to walk-in hobbiests like me.

    The owner Rocky took about 45 minutes just to talk wood and show me around the place - they clearly move 100s of board feet every day, but it didn't matter that I was there just to get a few planks - he gave me the grand tour and described all that they do.

    At most retail places, finding a highly figured piece is hit or miss - you dig through the stacks and it will either be there or not. West Penn is the only place I've been where I KNOW I will find high figure in just about any species I can think of - simply because they move so much stock, they can pull out the high-figure stuff and set it aside. The only exceptions were quilted maple - they have a little, but being a West Coast product they mostly leave it to others - and Macassar Ebony, which they were just out of because someone had bought all they had.

    Some warehouse pics (there were 2 other rooms, one full of turning stock, and a staging area that was half-full of burls and figured bubinga table slabs)




    There's a millwork shop just behind the curtain here:

    This last one is all cocobolo and bocote on the 3 pallets in the back corner, and the rest of the pile is gabon ebony:
  2. This was the result of my modest WAS bender:

    a couple of wild-grain bocote planks for figured tops:

    two birdseye bocote sticks for fretboards (already spoken for):

    And 15" wide 5/4 ziricote eek2.


    I've had the hardest time finding wide ziricote, but this place had dozens of planks over 7" wide. This one will be resawn into back & side sets for acoustic guitars.
  3. zagnut


    Jan 4, 2009
    Back in Detroit
    Pretty :D
  4. Unbelievable :eek:! Too bad I live thousands of miles away...
  5. Tdog


    May 18, 2004
    Impressive inventory...It is too bad that much of it is 15-30% more expensive than most other dealers/suppliers. Rocky supplies the Rockler stores nationwide.
  6. TimboZ


    Jan 4, 2009
    South of Buffalo
    Next time your in town give me a PM.
    I live just over a mile from the store.
  7. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
  8. That is true - and for regular lumber that is fairly easy to source, I would not go so far from home. His black limba is twice/bf what I can find locally.

    But for figure or stuff that's hard to fine, this is the place. For example, 14"+ wide 6/4 or 8/4 south american mahogany (for 1-piece bodies) is not easy to come by locally, but he's got a ton of it.
  9. Tdog


    May 18, 2004
    I've done business with Rocky before. It seems that he has a chip on his shoulder for Gilmer. Try ordering something from him over the phone.....It may get packed for shipping in a week....Had to cancel an order from him once for some 3in square Cocobolo turning stock and hope that a local Rockler had what I needed.

    I was lucky enough to get an 8/4 plank of unbelievable Quilted Sapele from West Penn.

    Have you tried Hearne? Fairly close to you. Mars Lumber, also in PA, has some wide mahoganies and wide figured Bubinga.....also some impressive Aussie burl.

    Sometimes you just have to pony-up for what you need when you need it.

  10. eleonn


    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    Bah... I can find that here almost everywhere!!! :D
  11. Yeah I know - you guys build houses and barns with it!

    How about a trade for some nice pine? :D
  12. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    oh jeeze, i get a really weird feeling everytime i see really nice wood used for other things than guitars and really really nice furniture. and i want it....
  13. Tdog


    May 18, 2004
    Face it, Dude! You are a wood-o-holic in desperate need of a wood-porn fix!!!!!! The first thing that you must do is admit your addiction. I'm sure there is a 12 step program somewhere in your area.
  14. meandi


    Aug 5, 2007
    I've built a couple of fingerboards from bocote.
    When it's oiled it almost takes on a 3D effect in the grain pattern.

  15. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    yes, my name is Lee Veinotte, and i am a wood-o-holic. (Hi Lee) and ive been off wood now for about 40 minutes (standing ovation)
  16. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
  17. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA

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