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Cedar Body Blanks


Hoot Owl
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We just lost a 3-foot diameter Port Orford cedar in our yard. It's a unique and rare wood - and it smells soooo good. They are milling me some blanks. Anyone have experience with this wood? Any suggestions? Like, orientation of the grain during cutting?

Edited by Hoot Owl
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I have not used Port Orford cedar but it has a very good reputation for acoustic guitar sound boards - it is stiff, lightweight and resists splitting. It is not a true cedar but rather a member of the cypress family like Alaska Yellow cedar. I have built with Western Red cedar and it is an outstanding top wood for acoustics. May I humbly suggest that as you are having the wood milled, select some billets that are perfectly on quarter and have them resawn and book matched for some tops.

 

As far as a body wood for an electric I really can't comment. I'm one of those folks who believes that the species of wood used for the body is less important than density, speed of sound, Young's modulus and the other engineering properties. A guitar made from PO cedar should be fairly lightweight which is often desirable and should stand up to playing and abuse. Once your wood is milled and dried I see no reason why it wouldn't make a fine guitar.

 

Edit to add, apparently PO cedar makes excellent necks, you might want to set aside some nicely quartered blanks for this purpose too. Here is what LMII says about it

 

http://www.lmii.com/products/mostly-wood/neck-woods/port-orford-cedar-neck-blanks

Edited by Freeman Keller
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Interesting.

I put an add on Craigslist for someone to remove it for me, no money exchanged. If I had a mill I'd keep it for my own purposes. The tree cutter is going to cut it up for a fence. He says he already has a POC fence and it stays straight as an arrow.

 

It's the most valuable wood grown in Oregon. Maybe I'll save 6' of it, paint the ends, put it in the shade and cover it up for a year. Unfortunately though, this tree had branches from top to bottom so there will be knots. The most valuable trees are old growth that have no branches on the lower trunk.

 

I already knew about soundboards. It's also used for arrows and the Japanese love it for their religious temple details.

It used to be highly sought after for ship building - hulls.

 

It grows in a limited region primarily on Oregon's coast. The native population was hit hard by phytopthera a couple decades ago. Oregon State University has isolated trees with resistance though and has been growing them for replanting.

Edited by Hoot Owl
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FWIW, I'm originally from Portland, went to OSU and currently live in eastern washington. I know the tree well.

 

For a solid body electric, knots aren't a problem - I build tele clones out of hundred year old pine barn wood - full of knots and all kinds of other funkyness. If you get interested in having it resawn there are people in the PNW who have the capability.

 

Looking at your name and avatar I just had to share this

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/guitar/acapella-41/31484924-barncaster

Edited by Freeman Keller
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FWIW, I'm originally from Portland, went to OSU and currently live in eastern washington. I know the tree well.

 

For a solid body electric, knots aren't a problem - I build tele clones out of hundred year old pine barn wood - full of knots and all kinds of other funkyness. If you get interested in having it resawn there are people in the PNW who have the capability.

 

Looking at your name and avatar I just had to share this

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/guitar/acapella-41/31484924-barncaster

Thanks. That's a great story.

I have a Tele Modern Player that has a pine body. I used to scoff at cheap woods for guitars, but my pine is alive in sound - pretty light too. So with this new perspective I'm juiced to try my cedar.

 

Now I'm wondering if I should call the logger and tell him I want to keep more of it. Sure wish I had a mill. I already have a backhoe to move the logs around.

 

Owls rock.

Your work does too.

 

 

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You might want to contact some of the PNW wood suppliers and see if anyone would be interesting in milling the wood for you. I have dealt with both Notable Tonewoods on Lopez Island and Pacific Rim Tonewoods up near Bellingham. Pacific Rim specialized in local sustainable woods and Taylor guitars is one of their big customers. You might also call Gilmer in Portland - I don't think they do the actual milling and resawing but they might have some suggestions. Last but not least, Two Old Hippies over in Bend and some of the other builders in the Portland area might have some ideas or want some of the wood.

 

When your logger cuts the rounds be sure to have some of them at least 30 or more inches - that is the usual length for neck blanks. You can always cut those back to make bodies or tops.

 

Edit to add - if you take the wood to an ordinary saw mill they will probably just slab cut it which is probably OK for a body but for necks or tops you really want it quarter sawn. A mill that specializes in instrument wood will know what to do.

Edited by Freeman Keller
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