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Ebony - Black & White Lumber @ Rare Woods USA
More commonly known as "Pale Moon Ebony" to US guitar luthiers and aficionados, this Southeast Asian true Diospyros ebony is, without question, the world's most difficult, perplexing exotic wood and at times, one of its most visually stunning. (It's also one of its most sought-after.) The wood is known for the bold jet black ink lines which adorn its creamy, pale yellow base. Both the volume and pattern of its lines are unpredictable, varying greatly from piece to piece. Grains can be straight, wavy or irregular; its texture is fine, with a nice natural luster. Its hardness and density are quite moderate for an ebony.After being harvested or re-sawn, the wood exhibits a strong tendency to self-destruct -- often changing shape, cracking and checking -- if not quickly coated in wax. Although it's not currently viewed as endangered, the wood has always been in short supply in the US, despite an unquenchable demand from custom guitar builders and wood enthusiasts, alike. Other than the difficulties in drying, it has good working properties; it machines, turns, glues and finishes well.Because of its noted self-destructive tendencies, the wood is coated in wax almost immediately after being harvested. Given this, what little makes it to the US market arrives with very high moisture levels, necessitating further drying. (This is where it gets tricky.) Experience has shown that the best drying results are obtained by leaving the wood coated in wax and just patiently allowing it to air dry. Any attempts to speed up this process are very risky as the wood usually winds up punishing the impatient! Even when dried very slowly, the wood can still change shape. It's not unusual, at all, to find pieces with major surface checks and cracks that occur even while under wax. For this reason, you see significantly more craft-sized pieces than larger, resawable boards (which typically command a premium price). Recutting boards will speed up the drying process, but attentive care must be taken to prevent warpage of the cut pieces. Importation to the US has been through very limited, select channels on an irregular basis for a number of years.This wood is most always in short supply, while the demand remains constant. Rare Woods USA is very pleased to be able to offer a limited amount of larger boards and billets of this spectacular exotic wood. Lumber orders to Southeast Asia can sometimes take 12 to 18 months or more to fill, ship and receive. With the recent banning of rosewood and ebony exportation by the Laotian government, we're not sure how soon we'll be able to restock (if at all). For the last several years, US importation of Black & White Ebony has been exclusively from Laos.
cabinetry, carving, furniture, inlay, lutherie, specialty items, trim, turnings
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Maple - Ambrosia Lumber @ Rare Woods USA

Ambrosia Maple is a general term attached to a variety of Acer (true maple) species whose boards included colorful bug "trails" -- caused by a fungus carried by the Ambrosia Beetle which penetrates the tree sap as the beetle eats into the tree, and it spreads both through the worm hole and up and down in the tree (carried along by the sap) and causes discoloring of the wood in streaks. The two primary species which draw the beetle's attention are Acer rubrum (Red Maple) and Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple), although -- with there reputedly being more than sixty different Acer species indigenous to North America -- this unusual phenomenon is certainly not confined to just the two. Weight and density can vary greatly -- depending upon the actual species -- the typical varieties of maple figuring can also be present, often creating some very unique, visually spectacular specimens.

Like any other maple, it is easily worked; generally cooperative through all phases. It's not much of a stretch to imagine -- since bugs have, quite obviously, already penetrated the wood's surface -- that the wood is decidedly non-durable, although it is generally stable enough for use in furniture and guitars. Its surface is typically darker than most sap maple (often featuring secondary / additional discolorations and other long streaks), although it retains the same high degree of natural luster.The scientific explanation is that the impregnated Ambrosia Beetle burrows into the maple tree (presumably for a safe place to deposit larvae), carrying fungi on its feet into the wood -- which serves as food for the insect's offspring, when they hatch. The fungal residue left behind as it digs into the maple can cause discoloration throughout the wood, via the tree's sap, in addition to the dramatically contrasting (mostly) blue and (sometimes) green trails which surround the small tunnels they chew. The beetles prefer wood that is not soaking wet, but that is in the beginning stages of drying. Once kiln dried, they will not re-infest.
crafting, furniture, lutherie, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Maple - Birdseye Lumber @ Rare Woods USA
Birdseye Maple is another title which does not, necessarily, denote a specific Acer species -- although the bulk of what is sold is Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) -- but rather a unique figuring that occurs in maple as a result of numerous small- to medium-sized knots accumulating in the wood. It remains one of the most coveted and sought-after of all figured maple varieties.Although it has never been scientifically proven, the prevailing school of thought is that the figuring is reportedly caused by unfavorable growing conditions. As the tree attempts to access more sunlight, buds begin to sprout in its trunk -- to try and grow more branches, to access more light -- but the tree lacks the requisite nutrients to support the growth and the new shoots are aborted, resulting in "birdseyes" (small knots) embedded in the tree's wood.There can be very large variances in birdseye size and content. Boards with larger concentrations of birdseyes are, obviously, more sought after and thus command greater prices than more sparsely decorated pieces. When sanded and finish-sanded, boards featuring somewhat larger birdseyes can have an almost 3D look -- like brown bumps, sitting up on a light golden surface.There have been tearout issues associated with birdseyes, as sometimes these tiny knots can wind up leaving tiny voids. There are also justified concerns that the tiny voids may occur sometime after the wood has been put into service. Because of this, some electric guitar luthiers shy away from using Birdseye Maple for fretboard wood, as slotting the frets can prove adventurous (if not downright painful:-)). Others, who do use it, will apply a finish coat of some type of protective lacquer over the fretboard when completing the neck.
cabinetry, furniture, lutherie, specialty items, veneer
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Rosewood - Honduras Lumber @ Rare Woods USA

Denser than East Indian Rosewood, Honduran Rosewood is well known for being the preferred wood for Marimba bars, with its ringing, well-rounded tonal properties. It compares well to Brazilian Rosewood (many claim it actually superior), producing a well-balanced acoustic guitar, with great projection and strong lows and highs. (In fact, during the '50?s and '60?s, the great flamenco guitar crafters considered it to be the only acceptable substitute to Brazilian Rosewood.)

Honduran Rosewood's grain lines are unusually tight and straight (though sometimes wavy or interlocked). The color ranges from a medium tan to a brownish brick red color, medium brown (sometimes with a purplish tint) or even a medium to dark burgundy, with occasional dark brown or black ink lines. Due to the wood's density and high oil content, it can be difficult to cut, machine and glue. Its texture can range from fine to medium; (not unlike Braz Rw) it is porous, and those pores are usually medium- to large-sized. As would be expected -- given its oily nature -- the wood has a rich natural luster.

Honduran Rosewood has grown difficult to obtain in recent years, due to a poaching epidemic in Belize which victimized the species in 2011 and 2012. Despite a wane in its supply lines, demand for the wood remains constant. Every major source we could find were unanimous in listing "2200 lbf" as the Janka Hardness rating for this wood, but we consider this figure to be very suspect. Most knowledgeable sources compare its weight and density to Brazilian Rosewood. The same sources list Bocote's Janka Hardness at 2200 lbf, also, and the Hon Rw examples we have handled are far more dense than any Bocote. (Some darker examples were more along the lines of a Cocobolo-type density.)

cabinetry, furniture, harps, lutherie, musical Instruments, turnings, veneer
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Ziricote Lumber @ Rare Woods USA
cabinetry, flooring, furniture, gun stocks, joinery, lutherie, musical Instruments, specialty items, trim, turnings, veneer
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