When slow grown straight grained and quarter sawn, this is the most versatile and important sound board wood. Used for centuries for pianos, violin family, guitars and lutes. Usually sourced from well managed forests.
I have been collecting wood for over 50 years, which is why Luthiers Supplies is a kind of (untidy) museum of wood, most useful, but some just collected out of interest. The woods listed are the regular repertoire of what is needed, so it’s always worth asking for unusual things. Some come and go, and some like Tasmanian timbers have just arrived!
We often photograph what is unique or difficult to describe, also bear in mind that we convert much of our stock here, so offer a custom cutting, planing and sanding service.
The timber descriptions which follow are based on my experience. Consequently there is much more to be discovered by further reading.
Please do bear in mind that timber has a surprising/annoying facility for not conforming to descriptions or expectations.
Timbers like Mahogany and Indian Rosewood are sufficiently valuable, and endangered, to have been replanted, sometimes outside their original range. There are big differences between the old growth timber, usually both denser and deeper in colour, and faster grown plantation timber.
In some cases two samples or pictures, are necessary. Timber that shows strong medullary ray figure e.g – London Plane looks very different when tangentially sawn or flat sawn, drab and almost featureless, but when radically ‘quarter sawn’ (known as ‘lacewood’) it can look spectacular.
A Database of our stocked woods
Generally more dense than European spruce, stronger and tougher. Suits most metal string instruments. Sitka conservation is encouraged by harvesting salvaged or fallen trees.
Walnut – Black Walnut
Works well and bends easily, tends to grow bigger and straighter than English Walnut so consequently more stable. Clairo Walnut is a U.S hybrid which can produce beautiful colours and flame figure.
Walnut – English Walnut
Works well and bends easily.
Strong and flexible (longbows). Straight, evenly grown timber is hard to find, so there is much waste in producing wood for Luthery. In great demand for lute ribs and back & sides.