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How To Buy Hardwoods


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Established Member
29 Nov 2014
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Up to my neck in it in Sandy, Beds
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?


Established Member
24 Aug 2015
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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.