Our clients always have questions about wood selection. It is our goal that you have a chair that fits your body overall, performs beautifully for you, and looks perfect in its environment. Every chair we make goes so far beyond what you would expect from a wooden chair that we know you will be happy with any choice.
Species of Wood
Its flexibility across the grain, resistance to cracking under stress, are part of what make it such a great conveyor of tone. These same qualities make it an ideal choice for a chair seat. The flexibility of the wood adds to its comfort allowing the chair to move with you (subtly) as you shift or sway while playing. More than any other wood it will feel as if it is becoming a part of you during play.
The spruce we use is Red Adirondack Spruce from Maine. We purchase this material from a tone wood dealer after the guitar face cuts are taken. For that reason you will find more character in this wood than you will ever see in a guitar face. This may include color streaks of gray or red, or small grain deviations. The grain direction is generally 30-90%. This gives us a strong chair and a calm grain pattern, much like that of a guitar top.
Not a species in its own right, “curly” indicates any sort of maple that has grown in a way that produces a gorgeous, shimmering tiger-stripe pattern. The striping plays under light as you move around it, an effect known as chatoyance from the French for “cat’s eye”.
We all know how beautiful curly maple can be and it has a special place in the hearts of instrument lovers. That is why we want to include this is our selection. The species here is red maple (acer rubrum) and weighs much less than sugar or rock maple.
The wood we use here is typically flat sawn due to the size of the trees available, so you will see oval growth patterns among the curl instead of the straight line grain you see in the spruce. Curly maple is an elegant, beautiful wood and a classic choice for instrument lovers.
The pattern of ambrosia maple forms after the ambrosia beetle lays it’s eggs in the wood of the living tree. When it drills a hole into the wood to lay its eggs it infects the wood with a fungal spores, staining the wood around it.
Unlike the grain patterns created by the tree’s growth such as curl or growth ring patterns, insect activity is unpredictable. We select wood and match as best we can for compatibility, but perfect symmetry is not an option.
If this wildness and asymmetry appeals to you, it is possible to visit our shop, where you can personally select the material for your piece. Be sure to call ahead and set up an appointment, or we can also facilitate your choice with digital images.
Rich, warm, and exotic, mahogany is a tropical wood originating in many countries (ours is sustainably sourced in Honduras). In our outdoor line, mahogany fades over time to a pleasant silver-gray, while in indoor pieces it retains its pleasant ruddy orange-brown hue.
Our mahogany story is one that ties directly to the luthier’s trade and to my own 20-year history of training craftsmen in Honduras. Sustainability is a core value to us so how we source such a precious resource is extremely important. I personally traveled to Honduras and took a tough 7-hour mule ride to the forest to see exactly where these trees are taken from. I wanted to be sure of the quality of the material and of the forest management practices followed in its harvesting.
Cherry is a premium hardwood that has been prized in furnituremaking for ages for its natural sheen and beautiful grain. Cherry is also known for its distinctively beautiful red color, which can really warm up a room or accent the use of other woods. In fact, new cherry pieces have a light golden tone which shifts gradually to a rich red-brown as the wood is exposed to light.
We source our cherry and walnut locally. As much as we can, we use trees that have been taken down right here in town. Sometimes it is due to storm damage, but often a tree just outgrows its location and needs to come down. We do our best to give these trees a second life as a beautiful, durable piece of furniture that will last for generations.
Walnut is another strong, durable hardwood long used in furnituremaking and well-known by even amateur lovers of fine craftsmanship due to its popularity and ease of sourcing. Its grain is generally straight, although it becomes wavy toward the roots. The color of walnut can vary dramatically, from light to very dark brown. The middle of the walnut tree produces the darker wood and the outer layer of the tree, just beneath the bark, produces the lighter wood.
Like cherry, walnut also changes in color as it ages, albeit in the opposite fashion. While cherry grows darker with exposure to light, walnut gradually lightens overall, with the lighter sections taking on blonde tones that perfectly complement darker sections.
If you find it difficult to make your choice, please call us, and we will be happy to listen to your considerations and help you make the best decision. We have invested a tremendous amount of research and engineering into this design for your benefit. We know we are making this chair for you, not for us, and we have as strong an interest in getting it right as you do. We look forward to working with you!