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Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:39 am
by Dale Penrose
Being primarily a mountain dulcimer builder, I can use woods in my builds that are not the "norm", such as this curly burr oak. I wetted down the board with water to show off grain and color.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:11 am
by Bryan Bear
That's a nice board. I have some curly burr oak just waiting for the right project. That project will almost certainly be a guitar. I'm not worried that it is not the "norm."

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:57 am
by Alan Carruth
Oak is becoming one of my favorite guitar woods. That rift grain should work OK, but I prefer it as close to quarter as I can find it.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:12 pm
by Bryan Bear
Alan, if you don't mind (and not to hijack the thread), can you say a little bit more on what makes it one of your favorites? And, are you speaking of Oak in general or specifically the white oaks?

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:28 pm
by Jim McConkey
I have built and played dulcimers for over 40 years, and the one I built entirely of oak (OK, the fingerboard was walnut), is still my favorite of them all. And that is some beautiful oak you have there. Go for it!

Alan, as Dale said, dulcimers are a lot more forgiving because they are so narrow and carry very little stress. The fretboard is the primary structural element. Flatsawn, Quartersawn, or anything in between can work just fine for the top, back, and sides.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:37 pm
by Steve Sawyer
Alan Carruth wrote:Oak is becoming one of my favorite guitar woods. That rift grain should work OK, but I prefer it as close to quarter as I can find it.

Have you ever seen ebonized quarter-sawn white oak?

I keep thinking of making a guitar body out of that some day. It would have to be chambered though as white oak is extremely dense. Maybe just a cap, but it sure is striking...

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:57 pm
by Alan Carruth
Oak is in the density and hardness class of 'rosewood', but usually has higher damping. As with all woods, it varies: in the first 'pair' I made, Classicals in BRW and curly red oak, the oak back was actually denser than the rosewood, and the back ended up heavier with the same resonant modes. It may have made some difference in the sound. The two instruments did not sound the same, and at the time I attributed the differences in the sound to the higher mass and damping of the rosewood back. Now I'm not so sure. I've developed the opinion that damping is not all that important an attribute in the back: I think density counts for far more.

The working properties of quartered oak are quite good. It may be more stable than BRW, and is certainly easier to get in wide and well-quartered pieces. It bends 'like buddah'.

I've used both red and white oak, and don't think there's any particular acoustic or structural difference. White can be fumed with ammonia to get a darker color, which should help sales. I'll note that some folks don't like the look of quartered oak, the large aggregated ray pattern reminds them of old furniture. I happen to like that style of furniture, so it looks god to me, but other folks don't.

Aside from all of that, I'll just say that I've really liked the sound of all of the oak guitars I've made. I'm not the most reliable witness, of course, but I do also get very good feedback from folks on them. I had no trouble selling the last oak guitar I made (a red oak Dread with scalloped bracing: my first Dread in almost forty years), and after I'd sold it got an order for another from somebody who'd seen it at Woodstock. That's a first: in the past I've practically had to give oak guitars away. Better times coming for domestic woods? Let's hope so.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:11 pm
by Bryan Bear
Thanks Alan, that was the kind of response I was looking for. I know that there are different camps when it comes to perfectly quartered oak for guitars and that you and I are on different sides <G>. When I bought the curly oak board in my stash I was able to pick through everything from flat to quartered. I ended up getting a board that was more riftsawn. I like those giant rays on furniture but, to my eye, the rays and the curl were too busy for me. Others, I'm sure would have called me crazy. . .

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:25 pm
by Alan Carruth
I know what you mean about ray and curl together being 'busy'. I've just never worked with rift cut oak, and don't know how stable it is, or how it bends. A student gave me a spectacular plank of curly white oak that is rift on one end and tends more toward quartered at the other, so at some point I'll find out.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:49 pm
by Clay Schaeffer
A sassafras top might pair well with Oak B&S. I've used it for dulcimers in the past, but this is the first time on a guitar. It won't be the last.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:42 pm
by Bob Francis
That looks great Clay 1

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 8:02 am
by Dale Penrose
Thought I'd show a picture of the dulcimer made from the above board.

Re: Curly Burr Oak

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 12:12 pm
by Daryl Kosinski
Quarter sawn red oak is one of my favorites to work with after ash.
I haven't built instruments with it yet.
Cabinets and furniture is what I make.
Many years ago my brother bought a portable band mill. we as amateur sawmill operators milled up anything we could find.
When we had a red oak on the mill we went for the most quarter sawn as we could get.

My rambling point is, oak is great to work with. You wont find any quarter sawn in Home Depot.

If someone is in upstate New York let me know and I may part with a piece for a instrument.