I've got wood!

#1
Yesterday I had a hell of a drive across England, coming to visit my father. Traffic was awful and it took me 14 hours door-to-door. However, this included two stops at timber merchants, with the goal of possibly obtaining a small stock of woods that I can use over the next year or two to make some guitars. I'll let you tell me if you think I succeeded!

I'll attach the photos in the order of selection. First of all I went to Timberline, aka Exotic Hardwoods, which has a good selection of tonewoods for electric and acoustic guitars. Since they are selling pieces for guitars, they aren't especially cheap, but I managed to find some quite reasonably priced pieces. First of all, I picked out four fretboards - the pictures show front and back:
Woods 4.jpg Woods 5.jpg
From the top, they are African ebony, Indian rosewood (I think...not entirely sure about this one), Macassar ebony and African ebony again. The shorter ones were just because I liked them (although the last one might be destined for the sister guitar to Sunrise), but the first one is intended as an alternative to the fretboard that I received recently for Sunrise. It has nicer markings, but it's a bit warped and dodgy so it will require a bit of work to see if it will actually work. Because of that, I got it for a bargain price.

Next, I dug around in their shelves full of woods for tops. They have a good range - in fact, only about a quarter of the tops are shown on their website so it's certainly worth a visit. I ended up with four tops, which I show in ascending price order!

The cheapest is a spalted maple top, for which they only wanted £27.50 (ex vat, so £33 in total). I thought that the pattern is lovely; the only issue is that the wood is rather soft, but that's similar to my recent Crimson guitar.
Top 2.jpg

The second top is maple, and cost me £36. I chose two more normal maple tops, and deliberately avoided any of the really nice quilt or flame tops, partly because I didn't want to spend big bucks and partly because I felt that both of these tops had interesting patterns, with some subtle quilting anyway.
Top 3.jpg

Next, the other maple top, which was £60 (I think I've got these the right way round!).
Top 1.jpg

Finally, I couldn't resist something a bit more pricey. They had a few very nice tops in quilted bubinga, and I picked this one because it was a bit longer than the others, so there will be some decent offcuts that I can use for something else!
Top 4.jpg

That's all I bought from the first place. Next, I drove to Guildford and found Surrey Timbers, which focuses more on exotic woods for table tops and crafts, but I found some pieces that will be great for tops and necks, at lower prices than the pieces sold on guitar wood websites. The first picture shows a piece of walnut that will easily make a two-piece body (and then some) - the flaw doesn't appear on the back, and I'll position it in a place where it will be routed out. The other pieces are a sapele plank that I asked them to cut in half, and each half will make a two-piece body.
Woods 1.jpg

The sapele was another bargain, since I paid £46 for two bodies' worth. It's not planed, but that's not a problem at all.

The next picture shows a super bit of wenge which I had them cut in two, and again I should get a two-piece body out of each half. I'm very pleased with this piece! Below it you can see a lump of ovankul which I hope to make a couple of necks out of, and then a narrow piece of something which I think is oak from their offcuts bin. Then there's a nice piece of purpleheart, and a smaller piece of zebrano which was a fiver in their bin. I don't know what I'll do with those pieces, but they will certainly be great to have available for something or other!
Woods 2.jpg

Here's a closer look at the wenge:
Woods 3.jpg

I'm rather pleased with my purchases. For a total of about £600, I have most of the woods that I need for about five guitars. Now I have to make the things!

So what do you think? Did I succeed in my goal? Do you like any of the pieces? I will probably still visit another place on Monday and might get a bit more, particularly as that place (in Taunton) sells some craft packs that could be interesting. I await your thoughts!
 

Robstafarian

The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
#4
Nice work! Remember to gather whatever CITES-related documentation you will need. Also, remember that working wenge produces toxic sawdust.
 
#5
I don't think any of this is CITES-controlled. I talked about it with one of the guys.

Thanks for the tip on the wenge! One of the things I've bought recently and will be collecting from my mum's house is a proper dust extractor, because I've already found that a regular vacuum doesn't cut the mustard. It comes with several different-sized adapters to connect up to different machines.

I'm looking forward to using the wenge because I think it's going to make a very striking body. I'll have to think carefully about which other woods to use with it.
 

@ssinine

Professional noodler
#6
Had to google Zebrano. I only knew it as Zebrawood. What would you do with it?
I love that pinstriped look on a top / body.

I'm curious to know how the figuring on the 3rd maple top will look like.
Also, how pricey are the walnut blanks compared to the other stuff? Always had a thing for walnut guitars.

Nice haul.
 
#7
Had to google Zebrano. I only knew it as Zebrawood. What would you do with it?
I love that pinstriped look on a top / body.

I'm curious to know how the figuring on the 3rd maple top will look like.
Also, how pricey are the walnut blanks compared to the other stuff? Always had a thing for walnut guitars.

Nice haul.
I don't have specific plans for the zebrano / zebrawood; they just had a couple of pieces like that in their oddments bin, and I thought it would be nice to have a bit around. The only thing that's in the back of my mind at the moment is that I'm hoping to be able to make enough veneers out of my ray pattern to create a second, sister guitar to Sunrise, and at the moment I'm thinking of making that a cityscape, with pieces of wood for silhouettes of buildings. If so, then I'd most likely use a piece of the zebrano in there somewhere. I'm still on the lookout for small pieces of different types of woods to keep for that purpose.

The maple tops are going to be something for next year, probably. I'll have to have a good think about what I do with them. They both have some nice patterns, but they are quite subtle and I think it will be tricky to accentuate them, rather than hiding them. I can see myself watching lots of YouTube videos on lacquer finishes!

The walnut wasn't a guitar blank, just a plank that I found which was about the right size - it should be easily big enough. It cost me about £53, which isn't especially cheap but it's reasonable for a body. The wenge was about the same price - the whole plank was £115, but that will make two bodies. On another site, I found a wenge 2-piece body for £66.
 
#8
I called Surrey Timbers again today to follow up on the padauk that they were going to prepare, and I've asked them to put this piece aside for me to collect on Monday:
Padauk PD7.jpg
It's not exactly what I had in mind but it's nice enough, and there's enough to make two bodies.
 
#9
With my phone having definitively died earlier this week, I've finally managed to get hold of another phone to take a picture of the piece of bubinga that I actually bought. In the end, it wasn't the one above because I found a nicer piece (and the one above has a crack). To facilitate transportation and squeeze it into an already full car, I asked them to cut it in half, and that's plenty for two bodies.
Bubinga body wood (small).jpg

I'm intending to make a strat out of a part of this wood, but I don't yet have a specific plan for the rest. I'm also still contemplating different configurations - I could just make a one-piece body from each half (you can see where it's been cut), but I could also, for example, cut them down the middle and take both right-hand pieces to have the white streak down the middle (possibly at a slight angle). I'm open to any suggestions.

Personally, I think this is a stunning piece and I'm looking forward to making a guitar (or two) out of it! I might just start working on it in parallel with Sunrise...
 
#10
I've had a quick play around in PowerPoint with the photo of my bubinga, to show roughly what the bodies could look like. The pictures on the left are simply the one-piece bodies, and the ones on the right are two-piece bodies using the two right halves (on top) and the two left halves (on the bottom).
Strat designs.jpg

Any thoughts on any of these? Obviously I can only do the two on the left or the two on the right (or some other combination).

I'm also thinking about whether to use a pick guard, and how to do that. I do have a piece of zebrano that could potentially work, but I'm not sure how to superimpose it onto the bubinga body in the pictures!
 

everfreetree

I... I like trees.
#11
I've had a quick play around in PowerPoint with the photo of my bubinga, to show roughly what the bodies could look like. The pictures on the left are simply the one-piece bodies, and the ones on the right are two-piece bodies using the two right halves (on top) and the two left halves (on the bottom).
View attachment 32306

Any thoughts on any of these? Obviously I can only do the two on the left or the two on the right (or some other combination).

I'm also thinking about whether to use a pick guard, and how to do that. I do have a piece of zebrano that could potentially work, but I'm not sure how to superimpose it onto the bubinga body in the pictures!
I vote for the 2 on the right.
That bubinga looks fantastic, either way, though.
 
#14
Love me some bookmatched symmetry but I'm partial towards the one piece options.
Much more of a unique look IMO.

P.S. - If you're really keen on seeing a mockup with the zebrano, I'd be happy to give it a try.
If you fancy giving it a go, here's the piece of zebrano - thanks! :D

I can email you the full-sized picture of the bubinga board if you'd like it in a higher resolution (I reduced it to 25% for posting here).
Zebrano.jpg
To give you an idea of the scale, the pieces of bubinga are about 37cm wide (on average) and 53cm and 55cm long, and the zebrano is 15cm by 72cm.
 

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#16
With my phone having definitively died earlier this week, I've finally managed to get hold of another phone to take a picture of the piece of bubinga that I actually bought. In the end, it wasn't the one above because I found a nicer piece (and the one above has a crack). To facilitate transportation and squeeze it into an already full car, I asked them to cut it in half, and that's plenty for two bodies.
View attachment 32299

I'm intending to make a strat out of a part of this wood, but I don't yet have a specific plan for the rest. I'm also still contemplating different configurations - I could just make a one-piece body from each half (you can see where it's been cut), but I could also, for example, cut them down the middle and take both right-hand pieces to have the white streak down the middle (possibly at a slight angle). I'm open to any suggestions.

Personally, I think this is a stunning piece and I'm looking forward to making a guitar (or two) out of it! I might just start working on it in parallel with Sunrise...
That's a nice piece of Purleheart too!
 
#17
Agreed; that buying a is lovely.
I'm looking forward to seeing results!
That's a nice piece of Purleheart too!
I'm really happy that I managed to find some very nice pieces of wood. It's going to be a bit frustrating that it'll certainly take me quite some time to turn them into guitars. Up to now I've had to spend a lot of time preparing my garage to become a workshop, and that continues this weekend when I should finish painting the cupboards, and then I'll get back to the guitars - although I also want to make another mobile cupboard thingy, which I think will have a number of drawers and a space for my new thicknesser under the top (I decided that I need to modify my initial design after I bought the thicknesser). The flip-top table is nearly finished; I just need to make the drawer and door.

Anyway...I think my initial goal is to make the Sunrise bass and the bubinga strat this year. If I manage both of those, that will be a good start. I'll keep you all updated on here!
 

Robstafarian

The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
#19

@ssinine

Professional noodler
#20
That awful orange / red tint is my terrible attempt at guessing what an oil finish would look like.
Good news is that I'm attaching a couple of templates with a transparent outline of the body, so you can plonk them on top of a suitable image for the body wood and get a good mock up. Other guys might find it useful or just entertaining.

Edit: Added a standard white pg one as well.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Top