View Full Version : Reclaimed Lumber

Bob Sayers
Mar-09-2004, 9:38pm
I read an article awhile back about hardwood logs originally harvested in the 19th century being reclaimed from the waters of Lake Superior. #Have any luthiers tried using this reclaimed lumber (particularly fiddleback and birdseye maple) for mandolin backs and sides? Just curious.

Bob Sayers

Scotti Adams
Mar-09-2004, 10:36pm
..I believe Ray Dearstone has made some mandos using this wood..

Mar-10-2004, 2:12pm
One of the woodworking mags I get (Fine Woodworking/Wood/American Woodworker) had an article a few years back regarding this and it had some raves from a guitar maker. Can't remember for sure, but I think the instruments & pics in the article I remembered may have been solid-body electrics. I do recall claims of incredible tone & sustain. Couldn't find the article online, but did find some other items that were very interesting including one regarding a luthier named Chris Hinton that's using the stuff and a guy named Joseph Nagyvary who's done some pretty serious research in the quest to reproduce Stradivari violins.
http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls....l?term= (http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1279/n170/21211707/p2/article.jhtml?term=)
http://www.timelesstimber.com/Showroo....eID=171 (http://www.timelesstimber.com/Showroom/ContentPlus.asp?cmd=CONTENT&articleID=171)

John Flynn
Mar-10-2004, 3:12pm
This is not directly to your question, but Fylde makes the "Single Malt Touchstone Mandolin" out of reclaimed wood from whiskey kegs from a distillery on the Isle of Skye. I don't know how they sound, but it is a creative idea and the wood looks very unique in the pictures.


Mar-10-2004, 3:25pm
Rolfe Gerhardt is using "Timeless Timber" Maple to make some bases for bridges on his Phoenix mandolins. I beleive that batch of wood is from Lake Superior.

Jim M.
Mar-10-2004, 4:42pm
Here's something about banjos made with it:
Timeless Timber banjo (http://www.nwbn.freeserve.co.uk/nl-01-07/ttimber.htm)

But I haven't seen any mandos made with it yet.

John Zimm
Mar-10-2004, 4:45pm
Legend had it back when I lived in Northern Wisconsin that Johnny Cash was given a guitar made out of Lake Superior reclaimed lumber during a visit to the Big Top Chataqua. That's about the only mention I have ever heard, but I have not seriously investigated the matter either.


Scotti Adams
Mar-10-2004, 6:32pm
heres a link http://www.banjowizard.com/oldwood.htm

Bob Sayers
Mar-10-2004, 7:05pm
Thanks for the interesting responses. I was just thinking that many of the classic instruments made before WWII, including Loars, were likely built from old-growth hardwoods. I wondered if this might be a source of similar materials.


Apr-10-2004, 1:20pm
I believe that some of the gibson mando's made in the early part of the 20th century, including some f4s were made of lumber "harvested" from old furniture. O. Gibson was know for looking for old pieces for this purpose. How is that for old growth? lol

Apr-13-2004, 11:15pm
I've heard that the mandolin makers in Czechoslovakia are using reclaimed spruce from old barn walls......

Apr-14-2004, 2:38pm
I can't remember where I saw it, but someone is making guitars out of old pallet lumber, rusty nail holes and all!

August Watters
Apr-14-2004, 5:30pm
If it's the same old pallet lumber guitar I'm thinking of, it was Taylor -- who made a guitar from junk wood just to prove a point about the quality of their design. Guitar sounded pretty good at that. And the fingerboard had a forklift inlay!

I know a builder out west who found a goldmine -- an old gym floor made of curly maple -- and they let him take it out for free!

August W

Bobbie Dier
Apr-14-2004, 8:09pm
Thanks for the interesting articles!

Scotti Adams
Apr-14-2004, 8:11pm
..I swore I read somewhere awhile back that Dearstone was making a few new mandos out of the Timeless Timber....with the first one going to his wife....can anybody back me up on this?

Apr-14-2004, 9:57pm
Scotti, you are correct, Bill Stokes was the dealer to go through for one of these and about a year ago I believe they were going for around $8000

Apr-15-2004, 6:10am
Washburn reclaimed pews from The Ryman. (http://www.gruhn.com/features/Ryman/AM4917.html)

Apr-15-2004, 10:00am
Concerning Washburn pew guitars:
Guitars made out of oak? #I thought oak wasn't a very good tonewood?

August Watters
Apr-15-2004, 10:47am
Oak is a terrible wood for guitars -- but the point was to commemorate the Ryman Auditorium and all the music there. Notice the depth of the guitar is extremely shallow; I think because these are really meant to hang on the wall!

August W

oldwave maker
Apr-16-2004, 12:25pm
Built a flattop 000 guitar and teardrop octave using the salvaged spruce soundboard of a piano built in 1906. Octave was great, guitar not. Some banjoplayers swear by the lake superior wood for tone, whatever that means.......might make mandoplayers just swear!
never played the taylor pallet guitar, Michael Hornick (shanti guitars)played it at namm, told me he was not impressed tonally.

August Watters
Apr-17-2004, 7:00am
Let me clarify what I said about the Taylor palete guitar -- it wasn't impressive, tonally, in that you wouldn't mistake the tone for a guitar made out of good materials. It was made just to prove a point about design; no one ever claimed the tone was comparable #to a guitar made of real tonewoods.

What was impressive about it, however, was how it didn't totally suck, considering it was made of junk wood. I think Taylor did make their point about the importance of good design.


Apr-17-2004, 10:00am
"If it's the same old pallet lumber guitar I'm thinking of, it was Taylor -- who made a guitar from junk wood just to prove a point about the quality of their design."

"What was impressive about it, however, was how it didn't totally suck, considering it was made of junk wood. I think Taylor did make their point about the importance of good design."

It's my understanding, especially after hearing Bob speak at a GAL convention, that the pallet guitar was built to make another point that was bugging him--the "exorbitant" pricing of tonewoods.

This was at about the time that koa was hitting 250.00+ per set, and the guitar was a reaction to what Bob considered to be price gouging by tonewood vendors...

Speaking of price gouging, has anyone priced the Lake Superior stuff? #Scheech...

Here's a pic of me cutting up a Sitka Spruce log that was forced underwater by the houseboat it was supporting for 25 years up in Ketchikan Alaska.
The wood had a very interesting texture--almost "waxy". #
Electron microscope images were made of the wood, and to these eyes (and others who know better) the wood appeared to be the same as fresh Sitka...oh well.

At least the story is a good one....

Apr-17-2004, 11:45am
I have some Sitka guitar tops cut from salvaged submerged fish traps from Alaska. Some of them are nicely bearclawed.
I haven't used any of them yet, and I don't expect them to be particularly different than fresh wood. I bought them because they were cheap!

oldwave maker
Apr-18-2004, 1:32pm
This black walnut was cut in Va. in the '30s for shoring for a bridge across the potomac, afterward the logs were popped loose and allowed to float away down chesapeake bay, salvaged in the early 70's and sawed into 12' 1x24 planks by a local retiree who had worked at langley back then, when I got to the pile he had cut almost all of it up to make small jewelry boxes! bought all he'd sell me for $1/bd. ft. half the weight of illinois river walnut, 1/4 the weight of our local canyon black walnut, made some light and lively mandothangs. the remaining edge piece looks like driftwood. wish I had more