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Old 01-14-2019, 01:38 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 2,840

The local makers who have used it call wenge 'African crack wood'. It's tendency to split is exacerbated by New England's variable climate.

My understanding is that in the areas where it grows most Osage gets used for fence posts, which are said to outlast the holes. It's very hard to split for fire wood, but burns well when you've got it into the stove, I'm told.

I think the problem with finding wide pieces for backs is more related to the fact that it's not a commercial species than anything else. I've gotten nice quartered two-piece back stock, so it's not an issue with the size of the trees if they're allowed to grow. One supplied I talked with said that he opened up a large tree and found that it had grow from a number of stems that were braided together when they were small; the legacy of a pre-barbed-wire hedge. There was not much usable wood. IMO there's nothing wrong with a three- or four-piece back.

I have not tested wenge, since it doesn't interest me. The osage I've tested has been a drop-in replacement for BRW in terms of properties. Like BRW it seems to undergo a lot of drying degrade, particularly with heart checking, so look for stuff that does not contain the center of the tree.

Osage can be fumed with ammonia to bring up the color. It doesn't turn as dark as BRW, at least in the short time I've had to fume it, but it gets about as dark as mahogany.

Black locust is, in some respects, an 'improved' substitute for Indian rosewood. It has similar stiffness and density, but lower damping, with a tap tome more like BRW. It makes a very nice guitar. It also turns dark when fumed with ammonia, taking more color than osage.
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