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How To Buy Hardwoods

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Felix

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No more Bubinga by the way, in January of this year Bubinga (along with all Rosewoods including Cocobolo, Kingwood, and African Blackwood) went onto the CITES list. You'll find the odd bit still for sale in a few yards, but basically that's it. If you fancy some Wenge you'd best get your skates on, word is that's going to follow and in any case Wenge quality has gone right down in the past year or two.

Is this a bad thing? No, it's probably a very good thing. One way I've heard it put is this, if the Earth was 46 years old then we humans have been around for 4 hours and the industrial revolution happened just 1 minute ago, but in those 60 seconds over half of all the world's forests have been cut down. Ouch!

Bottom line is tropical timbers are yesterday's materials, very soon trying to sell anything made from a tropical timber will be like trying to sell something made from ivory or panda fur. Some of the coolest furniture makers I know are now exclusively using Douglas Fir and Hazel! That's probably going a bit far, but temperate zone timbers are definitely the way ahead.
That is a real shame - it's sad that continuity of supply was never at the forefront of the forest owners' minds as much as the dollar signs were. So who's stashing the millions of trees that have been felled to make way for palm oil plantations?
 

D_W

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Sort of necroposting, but I've built a few guitars (restricted woods are common favorites, but finished guitars have gotten a reprieve from most as they've never really pressured supply).

Around 10 or 15 years ago, the consumption of rosewoods in China was about a twentieth of what it's become. China has undergone a huge transformation in some areas (economically) and rosewood furniture is a middle/upper middle status symbol there. Their consumption of rosewoods by 2017 had become 10 times the level of consumption that the entire world used a decade earlier.

This sounds like an old wives tale given pinning the blame only in one place, but one has to remember that the average wage at the beginning of this period was $2k in china and it is probably nearing $10k now. The wages are not spread uniformly there, meaning there is a suddenly flush market of upper middle income folks (Even buy american standards) and the consumption of woods doesn't follow cites exactly, either (as in, Chinese purchasers are more than willing to go to Africa or around asia and mislabel or smuggle woods).

This same thing occurred win honduras and central america with mahogany. It's a simple issue - find a poor economy with relatively valuable woods and easily purchased local or regional officials and introduce technology and the wood is exhausted quickly (or as is the case with madagascar, a government that is in flux where protection of any such thing is eliminated - every tree of any maturity is quickly gone).

A quick look at older rosewood vs. the new plantation stuff also suggests that what comes behind won't look the same or be of the same quality (but the plantation rosewood that's become available in the US is still nice stuff - it just has wide growth rings and a different look).

Internet buying probably hasn't helped, either - local sources (india, for example), can show up on ebay and claim they're selling wood with paperwork (they're not) and ebay generally leaves the listings alone.
 

triker64

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Very informative article Custard. Are tbere any wood yards up Yorkshire way or do l need to travel south. Might be good excuse to visit family in Midhurst! I have carried 3m boards in the Peugeot before now.
 

billw

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That is a real shame - it's sad that continuity of supply was never at the forefront of the forest owners' minds as much as the dollar signs were. So who's stashing the millions of trees that have been felled to make way for palm oil plantations?
Some gorgeous timbers slowly working their way onto the history list. I'd better stock up on African Blackwood!
 

AJS2018

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I am a bit of a fan of Duffields (near Ripon) as a source for beginners and recommend them to my students. They stock most of the species Custard mentions and display them on racks so you can select at your leisure without the yard man ho hummikng beside you. The quality is usually fairly good. They also have some exotics, they have some of these huge boards of bubinga, perhaps it's a good thing that it's going on the CITIES list!
Great to hear advice from Chris Tribe. couldn’t agree more re Duffields. On my first visit I went to the reception/cash desk and explained I was new to proper timber yards and that woodworking was a serious but new hobby now that I’m retired, I asked if there were rules I should respect and for their advice on picking wood, I knew roughly how much I needed and that it would be a ‘dark’ wood, they were brilliant, showed me around and offered advice. They then left me to find what I wanted, no ‘selling’ or looking over my shoulder, so I didn’t embarrass myself. I’m now on first name terms and feel confident each time I’ve been since.
 

danst96

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Very informative article Custard. Are tbere any wood yards up Yorkshire way or do l need to travel south. Might be good excuse to visit family in Midhurst! I have carried 3m boards in the Peugeot before now.
Duffield Timber near Ripon i have found to be pretty good.
 

Amateur

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Excellent post.
My two two penny's worth is this.

In an ideal world I'd like to be able to see the surface that I was buying, at the cheapest price with the least defects and cut to the largest size I can get in my car.(LOL)
That's not always possible on rough sawn.

If I'm making up wide boards for larger tops it can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. Not only with matching the grain pattern to an aesthetically pleasing surface but unseen surface defects and splits...which on rough cut timber is unavoidable.
 

Picalilli

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Does anyone know of any good wood yards that would sell hardwoods in Tyne and Wear or near? There are a few I know of but their websites only show white oak under the hardwood section and ‘Siberian larch’, which I don’t know much about. Just wondering if there’s anywhere within spitting distance that might have more variety?
 

MorrisWoodman12

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Country: UK
Region East Sussex
Vendor name: Wenban Smith Wenban Smith
Town/City: Lewes
Hobby friendly (yes or no): Yes
Self select: Yes
Home delivery (yes or no): Yes
Online ordering (yes or no): not sure
Prices visible at the yard (yes or no): No
Domestic hardwoods (yes or no, or list the available species if known):

(Sorry not sure which are domestic and which are ‘other’ hardwoods.)

European Oak
American White Oak
American White Ash
White Beech
Lightly Steamed Beech
American Cherry
Idigbo
Iroko
Rock Maple
Red Grandis
Utile
American Black Walnut
Sapele
Teak
Tulipwood
Wenge
Zebrano
Purpleheart
Padauk
Koto
Keruing
Obeche
Lime
Movingui


Other hardwoods (yes or no, or list the available species if known):
Softwoods (yes or no, or list the available species if known):

Douglas Fir
Yellow Pine
Pitch Pine
Larch
Sitka Spruce
Western Red Cedar


Manufactured boards (yes or no): not sure
Turning blanks (yes or no): not sure
Size of shop (small, medium, large, one person, etc.): Large
Cut lengths for car transport (yes or no): not sure
Notes (include links to other threads on UKW about the vendor):
 

Chippymint

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Well done Custard. A brilliant piece of work. Very informative and helpful.
 

Seaside Donkey

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Does anyone know of any good wood yards that would sell hardwoods in Tyne and Wear or near?
There's Arbor Timber at Langley Moor near Durham.

There's nothing machined until you ask for it so it's a matter of browsing, picking and then waiting for your piece(s) to be machined. That may take a few days. If you're not that picky you could order online and would probably be OK - I've had no problem with the quality of their stuff.

The staff can be a bit offhand though and it often takes ages to get through on the phone. I once phoned for some 32mm MDF and was told no problem, just come through and pick it up. When I got there they looked at me as if I was crazy. "32mm MDF? We don't keep that on stock. We'll have to order from the warehouse". Also, when you go to the shop they often have a competition to see who can find anything to do other than serve a customer.

What can you do though? There doesn't seem to be any alternatives around here.
 
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D_W

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wrong forum. post moved
 
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