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Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:53 am
by Matthew Lau
I made a friend who helped me order some very great japanese chisels and got me into the world of gennou.
Out of thanks, I'd like to get him some hard to find wood for hammer handles (gennou).

In Japan, apparently gennou are highly prized among craftsmen as one of the most important tools in their arsenal (because they stay good looking with age, unlike planes/chisels/saws, etc). There are hammers that are sold for several hundreds of dollars, and craftsmen willing to pay $75 for a cherry branch to use as a handle. Goumi, Boxwood, and Persimmon can cost even more!

Do you know of a good supplier for some harder to find wood?

i'd like to find some of the following, preferably split or quartered, at least 2"x16" or ideally 3"x3"x16", preferably with a slight arch:
- black persimmon wood
- quince
- boxwood
- Duetzia Crenata (considered one of two "ideal" gennou handle woods)
- ushigoroshi (the other "ideal" gennou handle wood)
- gumi

Anyways, I know that this is a crazy query--but who know!?
A fellow mimfer may have this stuff in his backyard.

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:27 pm
by Bill Raymond
rarewoodsusa.com has boxwood, since black persimmon is just varietal of persimmon, I would suspect that there isn't much difference in properties except for coloring (persimmon being an ebony, perhaps ebony would suffice?), try thorn-creek.com; you may just have to grow your own Deutzia Crenata bush! I have no idea what Gumi is.

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:28 pm
by Bob Gramann
Finding persimmon here in the east can be problematic. The black parts of our persimmon trees are fairly small and often a bit crumbly. I bought a persimmon tree a few years ago. Very little of it was black. I got as much vertical grain wood as I could out of it for backs, sides, and fingerboards and set the rift sawn parts aside for tool handles. The lathe doesn't care much about the original grain orientation. A woodfinder.com search turned up 15 suppliers of persimmon.

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:26 pm
by David King
Boxwood is mostly used for recorders and any place that specializes in supplying wind instrument makers should have turning squares. I got a small block of it from Gilmer woods a few years ago and I'd start there for all of these woods.
Goumi appears to be a kind of fruit from China: http://036820a.netsolhost.com/goumi.html
My limited experience with persimmon is that it wouldn't be suitable for tool handles.
What about good old American woods: shagbark hickory, mountain mahogany, mesquite, pacific yew, black locust, elm, osage orange ...

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:06 pm
by Bob Gramann
Actually, my persimmon made a very nice handle for a socket chisel. The also make the woody golf clubs with it.

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:48 pm
by Douglas Ingram
Damn, Matthew, now I really want some of those hammer heads!

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:03 am
by Chuck Tweedy
Osage!!

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:28 am
by Matthew Lau
I bought a Hiroki from Deiter Schmidt, and it's pretty amazing.
The head perfectly balances on the convex end, and the way the metal meets the softer cladding is poetic.
The steel rusts like crazy, like my best blades.

Japann woodworker seems to be phasing them out.

I'm not sure how useful it'll be in guitar building, but they sure are nice to use :D

Re: Any source for finding really obscure wood?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:53 pm
by Douglas Ingram
I'd buy just the head and make my own handle. I would be using it for my canoe building and I need a light hammer as I use it for several days at a time when I'm making a new canoe. I've developed a specific handle for my needs, one where my hand does not slide up the shaft too close to the head.

I'm in no rush, but I think that one will be on my wish list!