12.5" Diameter Maple Tree to Guitar Blanks - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-06-2017, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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12.5" Diameter Maple Tree to Guitar Blanks

Hello,

I am located in the Hudson Valley, NY and have a Sugar Maple tree in my back yard that is leaning a little too close to my house. It is about 12.5" in diameter at chest height, and the main trunk is about 16' tall, before any branches. I plan on having an arborist take it down this weekend for $350, and I have a local mobile sawyer / kiln service that has quoted me at $90/hr for rough milling and $1/bdft for the kiln.

I'm interested in using the wood to create electric guitars (mainly semi-hollow body guitars, and electric guitar necks).

Rough dimensions for guitar body blanks are 14" x 2" x 20", and necks are 1"x 4" x 24" (maybe a little longer if I make a bass guitar). Obviously the tree is not big enough for any one-piece bodies, so they will be laminated 2 or 3 piece bodies.

My main question is, for a tree this size, assuming it is in decent health, how many decent guitar body/neck blanks should I expect it to produce?

Thanks for any insight,
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Update:

My sawyer tells me I will get roughly 100 bd ft of maple, by sawing two 8' logs. One quarter sawn, one flat sawn.

The sawyer also operates a kiln, but requested that I air dry the boards 3 months, before they are kilned.

I am considering stacking and stickering these boards in my attic. Outside of bugs/infestation issues, my only remaining concern is mildew/mold. I have relatively large vents in this attic space, but I've heard of mold issues when people have attempted air drying green lumber in their attic.

Is this something I should be concerned about with maple? Any ideas on how to lessen the likelihood of damage?
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 12:33 PM
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Welcome to the forum! Got a name? As long as you keep air flowing you should be ok but you can check here for more info.

I started building acoustic guitars a while back and have several in the works but none completed yet. Got any photos of your work?

David

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post #4 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 01:27 PM
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Hi Phrazor,

Now that you have the BF for the boards you will get, working up your cut list shouldn't be an issue. I have worked with a number of Luthier over the years, but only managed a few Dulcimer and Banjo projects myself...From a technical aspect of the wood, glue up and such I can help...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrazor
The sawyer also operates a kiln, but requested that I air dry the boards 3 months, before they are kilned.
IF I was to Kiln a piece of wood...3 months of slow (not fast) air drying is a minimum. One year is much better. Traditionally wood was never "kiln dried" and is not a necessity to our craft. Secondly I have met very few that are good at the craft of drying wood...Well...and even fewer that know how to operate a kiln past general mass production for current wood sales market. Too much of it is case hardened and either way will still need to be acclimated for several weeks to months in the area they will be worked...especially if kiln dried wood. As a simple (but extreme example) I have seen the gable end of a building pushed out 75"mm plus by the expanding floorboards of..."kiln dried"...flooring going in after only acclimating for 3 weeks, then installed.

I tend to work wood in a "wet" of green condition. Luthier work is however where dry wood (for the most part) is a must for the craft. Now, with that said, working blanks up rough to shape in green wood is more than plausible...even the glue up part. Then letting them dry for finish work-up later. This allows you to get into project, feel the wood, learn to understand it and what it will yield, and then having more amenable piece to store and wait for...finish out drying.

Depending on the tree, I probably would be working the planks up in to stock no thinner than 8/4...but I like carved wood and would also probably rive and/or only quarter saw this wood...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrazor
I am considering stacking and stickering these boards in my attic. Outside of bugs/infestation issues, my only remaining concern is mildew/mold.
Attic storage may be too fast...

Attic storage won't stop Coleoptera (aka beetles) from going after wood...If they smell it (and they will) the species that go for dead wood will find it...

Mildew isn't really an issue even if it does happen to a lesser degree. Sticker staining is more an issue that mold or mildew for the most part as it only is on the surface. Also, if you are getting either mold or mildew than the area is probably too damp for even slow drying...

[quotePhrazor=]Is this something I should be concerned about with maple? Any ideas on how to lessen the likelihood of damage?[/quote]

Absolutely as soon as the tree is down and bucked into Bolts, the end cuts need to be end sealed!!!

If checks are present in the end cuts they need to be cleated/stapled to arrest further movement (I personally like cleats over staples.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrazor
I have a local mobile sawyer / kiln service that has quoted me at $90/hr for rough milling and $1/bdft for the kiln.
This part is just be, but I won't work with sawyers that don't know there craft well enough to charge by a set metric like Board Footage...By the hour is nebulous and tells me (usually...not always) that the sawyer doesn't have a complete handle on his/her game yet...

Mean average for onsite Sawyers is between $0.10 to $0.30/bdft and (sometimes) a modest setup fee of about $50 to $100. Board Foot can very depending how far the better ones have to travel.

I have had one good remote Sawyer that could yield good sticker stacked wood in 8 hours for $80/hour. That is still $0.21 per board foot...and my next round was less expensive...(in my area)...as he and his son's could cut 3000 board foot...Not many can do that...The current price offered seems wicked high to me!! If he is there for two hours that is a minimum of $180 so the wood is going to cost $1.80 per board foot for your own log...That is ridiculous in my view and experience...

Last edited by 35015; 06-08-2017 at 01:35 PM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. Sorry if this thread is misplaced.

Name is Nate. At this point, my guitar building work has all been theoretic, and research based. I've read a lot of threads at the http://www.tdpri.com/forums/tele-home-depot.46/ for inspiration. And I've watched a lot of youtube videos of people shaping necks, bodies, etc.

For some reason, acoustics seem more daunting.

When I was 16, I took a CAD class at the local community college and designed a solid body, but it was not to spec.

Now 16 years later, I have some rudimentary woodwork under my belt. I built some radiator covers out of stud grade pine. All my other experience woodworking is deck building, and framing. Nothing pretty.


- Jay, thanks for the detailed response!

The green boards will be cut to 9/4, to allow for movement and shinking.

Drying location:
My basement has a river flowing through it, so if not my attic, I can only dry it outside, and I don't have a good place set up for that.

Protecting the lumber:
I have a can of Anchor Seal that should arrive the day before the tree comes down, so I plan on sealing the ends of the logs as soon as they come down.

Saywer's pricing:
From what I gather, his charge is hourly in order to make it worth his while for small projects where the client may be selective on the cuts. I'm not looking at is as a volume operation. With a $100 set up fee, you're saying I should only be paying $10 for milling the two logs into 100 bd ft?

Last edited by Phrazor; 06-08-2017 at 01:53 PM. Reason: Didn't see Jay's reply.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 01:44 PM
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Well we're glad to have you here, Nate. You might take a few minutes to complete your profile 'cause we're liable to forget your name and location. I built a CNC router last year and thought I don't play electric I keep thinking I want to cut some solid bodies and necks at some point. One reason I built the CNC is to help with my acoustic guitar building but more for accurate templates and fixtures than for cutting the pieces for the guitar. Anyway, it's a fun goal to build instruments! Good luck with yours and post often (photos especially).

David

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post #7 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Drying location:
My basement has a river flowing through it, so if not my attic, I can only dry it outside, and I don't have a good place set up for that.
Then attic it is...just make sure to end seal and check for "checking"...haha...on the ends.

Not a bad idea to pre-emptively cleating the ends of each board to keep them from moving around too much and checking apart on you which Acer's can do when "dried hot" which an attic is...

Quote:
Protecting the lumber:
I have a can of Anchor Seal that should arrive the day before the tree comes down, so I plan on sealing the ends of the logs as soon as they come down.
Excellent!!!

Good for you on getting on this already!!

Quote:
Saywer's pricing:
From what I gather, his charge is hourly in order to make it worth his while for small projects where the client may be selective on the cuts. I'm not looking at is as a volume operation. With a $100 set up fee, you're saying I should only be paying $10 for milling the two logs into 100 bd ft?
Bottom line...He is expensive for what you are getting...In my view.

As a teacher of the crafts, I would rather see you get a better price or (better yet) learn how to knock these logs into bolts, then Cants, and then boards/planks/blocks...yourself. Either by chainsaw mill, or riving methods. Since your main goal with these logs is working them up into stock for Electric Guitar work...that is nothing more than..."Big Firewood Splits"...which is nothing more than a fast Riving method. You can get some awesome wood out of a firewood pile if you know what your looking at and how to split (aka rive) wood...

For what you are going to spend on the milling, perhaps it's time to invest in a chainsaw and some other skill sets to build upon perhaps??? Even milling these "by eye" with a chainsaw will give you a lot of wood and teach you much about working wood from raw stock up into something you can use....Not to mention the satisfaction. Either way, I would suggest (if you can) looking for other pieces from local remote Sawyers...if possible...

Regards,

j
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-08-2017, 05:12 PM
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Another good benefit of splitting these yourself, to support what Jay has said so well, is that you greatly reduce the runout when you split the wood. Now runout isn't as important in a solid body electric but can be in a hollow body and certainly comes into play on an acoustic guitar. Reducing the runout will help make the neck stronger and more stable, as well, not that Maple has as much runout as some other tonewoods but you'll be better off reducing it if possible.

David
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