The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Build and Repair

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #16  
Old 02-12-2018, 06:36 AM
Carl1Mayer Carl1Mayer is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 24
Default

Thanks for all the info y'all, I'll give it a try on some firewood for practice next time Im cutting and if that goes well I'll try to track down some spruce or cedar and let you know how it goes.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-11-2018, 12:38 PM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,202
Default

So after being through this myself a bit... I will say this one thing.

If you want to do this for the fun as an experiment - go right ahead. It's a great way to learn stuff...

If you want to do this to get real life high quality (AAA+) tops on the cheap - you are in for a rude awakening... I have paid for this learning experience....

The massive majority of spruce and cedar simply won't make the cut above A grade.... It has too many knots, twist, sap pockets, and wonky grain... And on the East Coast - it's worse... Most of the stuff you are likely to find much south of Maine and NH is simply too small to get anything useful out... (That's a main reason Red Spruce is so expensive - the trees are still relatively small)

If you are interested in taking a voyage out to Western Canada or Alaska, it might be a different situation... But still - it's difficult to find a good billet...

On my own experience.. I bought quite a few billets that looked very very good... On the inside - I was greeted by sap pockets and pin knots... I spent quite a bit or money on those billets to get a few A grade top sets back out...

So for now - unless my situation changes with regards to living in Alaska or Canada - I will buy tops... Already graded.. In the grade I want... And it's a bargain - because the sawyer takes all the risk on the trees....
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-11-2018, 06:57 PM
printer2 printer2 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 3,329
Default

I grabbed a section of an oak log from my neighbor when they had a tree cut down. It looked relatively straight and clean until I split and cut it up. Maybe 1/4 usable wood and that is a couple small guitars and uke's. But I did it more for the experience, just a person that needs to know how to do things.
__________________
Fred
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-11-2018, 09:34 PM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 4,310
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Truckjohn View Post
So after being through this myself a bit... I will say this one thing.

If you want to do this for the fun as an experiment - go right ahead. It's a great way to learn stuff...

If you want to do this to get real life high quality (AAA+) tops on the cheap - you are in for a rude awakening... I have paid for this learning experience....

The massive majority of spruce and cedar simply won't make the cut above A grade.... It has too many knots, twist, sap pockets, and wonky grain... And on the East Coast - it's worse... Most of the stuff you are likely to find much south of Maine and NH is simply too small to get anything useful out... (That's a main reason Red Spruce is so expensive - the trees are still relatively small)

If you are interested in taking a voyage out to Western Canada or Alaska, it might be a different situation... But still - it's difficult to find a good billet...

On my own experience.. I bought quite a few billets that looked very very good... On the inside - I was greeted by sap pockets and pin knots... I spent quite a bit or money on those billets to get a few A grade top sets back out...

So for now - unless my situation changes with regards to living in Alaska or Canada - I will buy tops... Already graded.. In the grade I want... And it's a bargain - because the sawyer takes all the risk on the trees....
I've gotten pretty prime stuff with western red cedar billets, 2 x 12 joist, spruce spar stock... It's a matter on knowing where and how to look. Go to the building supply or lumberyard that stocks clear cedar framing material, and you'd probably be shocked how much a percentage are well quartered and dead straight grain. And I live in the metro NY area. You can find cedar billets for shakes, but they're usually wet, which is the way you'd want to split it.

To categorically claim that one cannot find high grade woods from billets is poppycock; the log brokers and log buyers and sawyers know how to look just from the outside of a log. They weren't born with an innate ability! People who deal with wood all the time can tell if a log is good and even the figuring. Of course there are always risks, but if you calculated the board feet of a top set - not even 3/5bf (22 x 16 x .18+.07 roughly for thin kerf carbide tooth resaw blade) - hunting down billets starts looking better and better. I believe Sitka spar stock runs about $15-18/bf, so about $9-12 of wood. You can't even buy mismatched sets for that. And if you have a decent resaw blade with a .035 kerf, and you finish off at .14 or so, then your cost per set drops pretty significantly.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-12-2018, 06:17 AM
Otterhound Otterhound is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 3,950
Default

The irony is that , more often than not , the things that are being looked for in many woods are best seen from the outside in log form .
In this state , you can see the growth of the tree overall , which is a valuable tool when trying to assess what is going on on the inside of the tree .
Billets only provide a small snapshot of the picture and can easily be misleading .
A trained eye is quite valuable . Of course , sometime you just get lucky or not .
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 03-12-2018, 07:57 AM
printer2 printer2 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 3,329
Default

I cruze the wood stock at our HD and have come away with some nice spruce 3/4" boards that could be cut for tops. But if I had to pay for my gas out of the savings for the number of trips I would be better served ordering some A grade tops. But since I go by anyway I do see what they have. Never found any cedar that is worth picking up. One 2x6 came close but the grain fan at an angle of the board. Might be that different distributors have different mills as a source. At least that is my experience.
__________________
Fred
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-12-2018, 08:07 AM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 4,310
Default

It helps to develop a good relationship with a lumberyard. At my local place, they don't mind cuttjng a length off a board for me as long as they are left with at least 6 feet. They are also self serve, as long as you restack the bins.

Cedar framing is also graded clear and knotty. Most boards are flat sawn, but there's a few nicely quartered boards. Maybe not as much with 2x6 since they're likely cut from smaller trees, but check the 2x12 stuff, which has to be cut from bigger trees
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-12-2018, 12:47 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2,486
Default

Quote:
I do theorize that there is probably an optimal area in which the "twist" is less pronounced, maybe the first section or ring from the pith. But if one were to split a billet from said ring, both sides of the billet would be more or less parallel, and thus, when resawn, should yield plates with very little to no run out.
Not sure about the explanation, but that is how spiral growth works. The trees start out growing with no spiral, and progress from that point, with ever-increasing spiral as the trees matures. That means that tops cut from long logs (parallel to the pith) will have less runout on the pith edge that they have on the bark edge. This encourages joining of the pith edge. That is how the red spruce tops on many prewar Martins were joined. But the pith edge generally has more defects like pin knots, pitch pockets, pitch streaks, and heart checks. These defects can often be placed outside the pattern if the bark edge is joined. The grain tends to be wider near the pith, because trees normally grow faster when they are young. If you like tight grain in the center, that generally means joining the bark edge.
Also another factor in runout is where on the tree the blocks are cut. In general, trees with spiral growth tend to have the least near the butt, with increasing spiral further up.

Quote:
Those quarter rounds in the John Arnold sequence are too small to yield many guitar tops. Maybe 4 per 1/4 round plus another parlor or two. Then 2 violins or mandolins and some bracewood. Looks like a 20” diameter tree. The outcome would be much rosier with a 30” tree.
I have never cut a red spruce as small a 20" diameter breast height (DBH). But of course, the log gets smaller further up on the tree, and I always try to maximize yield, even on the upper blocks that may only yield a few guitar tops.

Quote:
So size does matter. Sorry, couldn't help it.
Bigger is better, for several reasons. But good luck finding a 30" diameter red spruce that is not dead protected on park lands. They are few and far between.

Quote:
A good sawyer can saw a top from a small split billet so that the run out is greater at one end than the other.
I don't believe that is true.

Quote:
Actually eliminating the run out is not an option, generally. When buying a top that was cut this intelligently, it is still usually up to the luthier to figure out which end is more ideal for the lower bout. Surprisingly, no top I’ve ever acquired was marked up to let me know what the sawyer intended.
I don't mark them, because I fail to see the reasoning in your statement. I do know for a fact that in order for the runout to change lengthwise, the split surface must curve along the length of the billet. While that curvature is present (and very obvious) when the wood has extreme spiral, it has not been my experience with the billets I split. That is because the degree of spiral that is acceptable (2" in two feet) is so slight that no lengthwise curvature is evident. OTOH, any grain curvature, like that generated around larger knots will cause runout, which is best located away from the bridge area. In the case of those 'knot shadows' I do try to lay out the pattern so that they are in the upper bout.

Last edited by John Arnold; 03-12-2018 at 12:59 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 03-13-2018, 07:38 AM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,202
Default

My friend - I agree that this sort of thing can be found in specialty places. But most of us don't live in NYC... There are 2 specialty lumberyards like this in my whole state. 1 is 4 hours away, the other 2 hours away..

With stuff I can buy locally... I have a lifetime supply of spruce brace stock "billets" - Aka good looking construction lumber. I have resawn my fair share of split cedar fence posts - just to do it.. I can get decent results.. But it's hardly worth making a top out of 3-4" wide slats... I have a stack of these, though, and I am planning to try out one top to see how it goes... I have 1 pretty fencepost left to go...... Probably a fool's errand though...

If I could get prime shake blocks, Cedar, or Redwood 12" stock locally - maybe it would be a different discussion. I can't. The stuff I could get had a fairly high fall off for defects... Even when I carefully hand picked it... It's not worth spending hundreds of dollars to get a big stack of firewood, a large stack of low grade tops, and one or two AA tops... And Pressure Treated pine doesn't have the same sort of appeal to guitarists.

I can get really nice wood for backs and sides - QS oak, Cherry, Mahogany, Sapele, and African Mahogany... So there is that...

I do think my advice is sound for the average person.. Try it out... See how it goes.. And count the costs to make sure you really are "saving" money...

Quote:
Originally Posted by LouieAtienza View Post
I've gotten pretty prime stuff with western red cedar billets, 2 x 12 joist, spruce spar stock... It's a matter on knowing where and how to look. Go to the building supply or lumberyard that stocks clear cedar framing material, and you'd probably be shocked how much a percentage are well quartered and dead straight grain. And I live in the metro NY area. You can find cedar billets for shakes, but they're usually wet, which is the way you'd want to split it.

To categorically claim that one cannot find high grade woods from billets is poppycock; the log brokers and log buyers and sawyers know how to look just from the outside of a log. They weren't born with an innate ability! People who deal with wood all the time can tell if a log is good and even the figuring. Of course there are always risks, but if you calculated the board feet of a top set - not even 3/5bf (22 x 16 x .18+.07 roughly for thin kerf carbide tooth resaw blade) - hunting down billets starts looking better and better. I believe Sitka spar stock runs about $15-18/bf, so about $9-12 of wood. You can't even buy mismatched sets for that. And if you have a decent resaw blade with a .035 kerf, and you finish off at .14 or so, then your cost per set drops pretty significantly.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 03-13-2018, 11:16 AM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 4,310
Default

2x12 clear WRC can be found commonly at most building supply places. And I'm on the East coat, about 3000 miles away from where this stuff comes from. It's not from a "specialty" store. It's used quite a bit for decking/framing.

While I do have a couple specialty lumberyards nearby, it's not like they everything I may want or need. so some stuff is a 2-3 hour drive away. Fortunately one is open on Saturday (Hearne Hardwoods) and I make the occasional pilgrimage. Richard at Otterhound has a HUGE selection of domestic hardwoods and softwoods, and I also look forward to see what they bring to Artisan next month!

For an "average" person, that's fine and I agree. They likely won't be building more than a guitar or 2 a year if that, so having "stock" doesn't make sense. I completely agree. But not everyone faces the dilemma you have, and many folks DO have the resources available if they just got up and look; so, if they did, why not take advantage?

I recently found, online, a 24 x 10 x 8 split cedar block for $75. I count 25-40 grain lines per inch - not mega-high count, but really nice with great even color. If I got 2 sets out of it , it would have been worth it. Let's just say I got more than 2 sets.

When I first started building electrics, I never dreamed that quilted maple would cost more than Gabon ebony($120-300/bf vs $100/bf). And if you look at the normal channels today, it mainly is. It takes digging around, but there are quite a few sources of quilted maple that don't break the bank.

Also today, there are many maker-spaces available that didn't exist when I started. To have access to industrial-grade tools, and even CNC, is a huge resource to someone, even if it's only to rent a few hours' time. As for woods, you don't really need to travel - they get dropped to your door.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Build and Repair

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:55 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=