Tonewoods

Many of my favourite New Zealand timbers are not easily obtained and the stock I have is the result of many years seeking out rare and beautiful timber. I have often milled timber myself, breaking down raw logs before re-sawing into billets to stack and air dry.

The Paraoanui sinker is one such log. It was found by my son Shiloh, not far from our house after a flood had left it high and dry. From the identification stamp on the butt it could be over a century old, and was it seems, destined to pop up just at the right time on this luthier's front lawn.....who knew?

I have been given timber from wind-fallen trees and I have also ferreted out other supplies from sawmillers and other contacts. I have even saved some of my best pieces from less than knowledgeable folk, who were about to use it for the winter fire!

Hollow log
Looking for tonewood...

A great wood story is that of my Waingarara kauri, a tree I was given permission to fell and mill for the soundboards of my instruments. It is now my most requested soundboard, offering superb concert quality tone and colour. The uniqueness of this story was such that it became the focus of a documentary film Song of the Kauri

The bottom line is I am always looking for, and acquiring great wood when I find it, and sometimes I have found it in the most unlikely places.

I am not the first to experiment with the native timbers of New Zealand for building instruments. James Williamson built instruments in his retirement in the 1920-1940's and Te Papa museum has one of his violins that uses New Zealand kauri for the soundboard as well as totara, another native, for the back, neck and ribs.

Now into my third decade as a luthier, my experience has taught me that New Zealand not only has some of the world's most beautiful timbers but, particularly in my Waingarara kauri and Paraoanui sinker, some of the highest standard tonally also. Though I still use some of the more traditional timbers it is these two New Zealand species that are the most requested on my instruments.

 

 

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Soundboards
Waingarara kauri, Spruce, Sinkers...
Back and Sides
Ancient kauri, puriri,rosewood...
Miscellaneous
Binding, decorative and other uses