One man's gathers what another man spills - Hunting for wood (legally of course!)

Greetings all:

I have 3 questions that are centered squarely in my values of "do it yourself" and "spend less"

The first...

1) What your ideas for finding old wood to first thoughts are cabinets, pianos, tables, house beams? Where to look...what to look for...reduce reuse recycle, etc.

2) What is the ideal set up and method for cutting a plank into "skins" around 1/8-3/16 inch, I am guessing its not first thought is band saw and a somewhat specialized guide that exerts pressure evenly across the plank and guides smoothly across the saw. Then I figure a drum sander. My guess is those two items are going to run $2,000 or so for both. Then its figuring out a process that gives some quality control...

3) Is this a ridiculous pursuit, should I pay people to prep my tops/sides/backs a la LMI/StewMAC etc? Would I be wasting money trying to save money? heh...wouldn't be the first time any of us had that happen...

Tags: Salvage, Wood

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I like to trash pick wood. Sometimes when out walking the dog during early morning hours I come across some old furniture that people put in the trash because of damage or they just don't know what they have. I have found a solid cherry table which had one broken leg that I sliced up and used for one of my own furniture projects. I like old floor beams from where I come from they are usually at least a hundred years or older and are nice old growth pine. There are many out there making nice electric guitars out of this pine. I built a nice tele body out of it. This old stuff even though its a soft wood it's much denser and harder then the pine you buy at the lumber yard today. One warning is to invest in a hand held metal detector before you resaw any of this stuff. Including logs and furniture, Hitting metal isn't good for the tools and possibly you...Mike
Holy crap, what nice work. Beautiful.
My experience is limited to solid body guitars, but here's my two cents.

As far as equipment goes, look into auctions for major purchases. You will most likely find high quality machines made to much higher quality standards than you can find today (i.e. made in China).

I recently scored some ash slabs from a neighbor who removed a tree close to their house. I rough cut the slabs with a chain saw (freehand), and get the finish thickness using a simple jig which allows me to use a handheld router "bridge" to machine the top, then flip over to the back. Those slabs are now air drying in my shed behind my house.

I also work with a guy who has a little side business where he goes around and harvests "urban windfalls", walnut, maple, etc. Most of this stuff would end up as firewood otherwise.

I have also found "scrap mahogany" listings on ebay from time to time at very reasonable prices. People will take old furniture apart and sell the boards. Trick is to find the listings with "scrap" in them to scare away the big money.

Good luck.....

Recycle woods also but one thing I've come to be concerned about is insect, and other, pests that can be carried in dead wood. The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) now threatens all of the hardwood forests in the USA while the emerald ash beetle is in the midwestern Ohio, Michigian and down to KY area. So I don't know where you live but if you are in one of the emerald ash beetle areas (check the USDA - USFS invasive pest website) you might want to reconsider not burning the ash immediately if you can't heat it sufficiently (or other sterilization techniques) to kill the beetles. While we've barely survived the chestnut blight (1/3 of the eastern hardwood trees), the Dutch elm disease, the gypsy moth, the southern pine beetle, and other imported pest the current crop of threats include such generalists (will eat many different trees) that I'm worried and starting to be really careful about what I store. I don't know when or where but I'm pretty sure that I've seen an ALB somewhere in my travels during the last 5 years over around 7 different US states and I truly wish that I could remember where and when cuz that area in in great danger of losing all its maples and other trees.

Good point...I harvested a 400 year old Oak trunk potentially for solid bodies or hollow if I can swing it...the wood is free, and although oak is not common for luthier (though Frank told me that Washburn had some oak geets made at one time)...I plan to "hone" my skills with it, as wood is wood, and the more time with it, the better I get...
yea ok oak is what i was told from roberto venn a wood that was not used much,it has the quality the absorbs tone instead of producing tone that one and pine are no nos for me. I had a customer who brought a acoustic guitar all oak and pine 12 string it was beautifully carved although I finished and it was paid for the Guitar I did not care much for the guitar the luthier is known for using local lumber from his home town only lol hunh, good practice dont let me hang you up to dry go for it if you find something interesting i would like to know Evan
One easy way to kill the bugs is to coat both sides with acetone and let dry. I would imaging the lacquer fumes would kill any thing in our wood.

Ron, While this usually might be true the article about the ALB in the latest "Smithsonian" issue states that pestcides can't get to the well burrowed in larvae so the only things to do are to heat treat the wood and if the wood isn't to be used for higher purposes to chip it - even using it for firewood takes the chance that the beetles might mature and leave before you get it in the stove. That article combined with the USDA site and wiki really make the ALB scary and beyond what we've experienced in the past.

We got a new dishwasher recently and my wife chose a fancy German model which was on special. The best thing was that it came in a packing case with a wood frame and pallet that was made of german spruce. About a third of the pieces were quarter sawn and knot free. They are now braces in my new Nick Lucas style L-00.
Hi Mark,
I'd like to see some pictures of your Nick Lucas L-00 if you have any. If you have some to post, put them up on another thread.

OK, well since you asked I'll stick some up.
When I started, I hesitated to invest large sums in expensive woods. The first few tele copies I did were poplar scrap salvaged from shipping dunnage when the local supercenter was built, and skinned over with nicely figured cherry and quartersawn oak. Several things are accomplished by this; the first and foremost is that you can hollow out the body before applying the thick veneer, lightening the load and tuning the sound. You can also conserve dollars in the use of scrap for the body, and also save in resawing beautiful wood for thick veneers. If you can get ahold of a full inch thick stock, a piece 17 1/2" long by 6 1/2'' wide will cover the front and back once resawed. Here's some examples, and good luck. I try not to use more than one or two pieces in any of the current ones I'm doing. This one is poplar, and pine and spruce skinned with maple or cherry sound very nice, too. One of the best sounds I've had so far was a butternut body skinned with walnut, and a SD '59 humbucker in the neck. Sounded like an old 335.


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