Northwest Timber Figured Hardwoods Interview 2 Tonewood
The Pacific Northwest forests are a temperate rainforest with Douglas Fir, a soft wood, in the majority. The secondary woods, not as plentiful, are Cedar, Spruce, Maple and Pine. Some hardwoods can be found at various locations throughout the forests.
The Northwest softwood industry is different from the Eastern hardwoods forests on the East Coast.
Maple, a secondary forest product is harvested along with Douglas Fir trees but is not the primary product. Douglas Fir is used heavily in the housing market and Maple is used in furniture, musical instruments and small accessory items such as knife handles, jewelry boxes.
Figure in woods is the visual pattern of growth that lends to an exciting visual appeal to your finished product. In hardwoods, figure is rare, 10% of hardwood trees have a figure and only about 10% of that is of the grade that can be used.
For this reason, the Pacific Northwest forests produces some of the world’s most sought after “tone woods” for instruments.
Only here, will you find “quilted maple” as it is specific to the Western Big Leaf Maple (just as “birds-eye figure” is to Hardrock Maple). Additionally, Myrtlewood grows exclusively on the Southern Oregon/ Northern California coast. Port Orford White Cedar grows in a small area on the Southern Oregon coast and is known for its hardness, white color and is used for a premium soundboard, Western “Claro” Walnut trees can be found all the way to Canada. Also, Claro is commonly used as rootstock on English walnut orchard trees in California, but here were we live they grow alone or in small groups, we don’t have to travel beyond 50 miles to harvest walnut.
(all woods are subject to availability)
Billets are the most challenging to acquire as the life of a Woodsman is hard and we usually make it longer than they do, they hand cut the blocks to size for figure (versus milled) for items like musical instruments, turning blanks, carving, and gunstock blanks.
Maple, Myrtlewood and Claro Walnut billets are all harvested when available and usually on private property.
Claro Walnut trees are typically single trees also found on private property, Maple billets are harvested in the forest with a permit and a chainsaw, and Myrtlewood logs are typically purchased in hardwood log yards.
We’ve purchased our wood which is harvested by private contractors for over 25 years.
Word that we purchase billets gets around and wood harvesters tend to find us.
No, most of the laws and regulations are in the act of harvesting and we don’t have a part in that.
We buy harvested wood, dry and process it, and then sell it through our website at:
Northwest Timber Figured Hardwoods are a family business!
The owner / founder Lewis Judy, his daughter Sara Judy (been with the company 18 years) and Hector Santana (been with the company for 12 years) but also was a finisher for Lewis for 8 years during the Studio Furniture days.
They specialize in high figure, high grade American hardwoods,
mostly grown here in the Pacific NW region but they do carry a select inventory of Curly eastern cherry from Pennsylvania, USA.
You can find Northewest Timber Figured Hardwoods on Luthiers at this address: https://luthiers.com/listing/northwest-timber-figured-hardwoods/
And we strongly recommend that you also discover their Tone woods on their beautiful e-commerce website: https://nwtimber.com
In the coming weeks, as for all the others luthiers for plucked string instruments, luthiers for bowed string instruments, amps & effects makers, wood & supplies dealers, lutherie events, jobs, schools & teachers registered on our website, you will be able to follow our series of mini-interviews dedicated to the fascinating universe of luthiers.
See you soon…
If you are passionate about the world of luthiers, join us!