What's Your Species: Component Makers Tell Their Favorites
By Jo-Ann Kaiser | Posted: 03/27/2014 2:51PM
Sponsored by: Northwest Hardwoods: Lumber that’s Graded For Yield®.
Photo: Parker ConverseAmboyna burl rocker by Parker Converse. With so many varieties to choose from, selecting a favorite wood species can be a difficult undertaking. Participants’ choices this year ranged from exotic to reclaimed, offering a diverse list of woods, popular for components, furniture and cabinetry.
Exotic Amboyna Burl
Sarasota, FL-based custom woodworker Parker Converse is well known for his sculpted rocking chairs, which can cost from $5,000-$30,000 each. Converse (ParkerConverse.com) chose amboyna burl as his favorite.
Photo: Parker ConverseAmboyna burl. “Many covet it but except for a few turners not many know much about it,” said Converse. “I had the good fortune several years ago to have a patron who wanted two ‘over the top’ chairs. I purchased a 950 pound burl in California that had come from Laos. It was dead green so it was a fascinating process bringing wet 8/4 wood down to 7% moisture content in just six weeks and then engineering the chairs so they wouldn’t fall apart. I made three $30,000 chairs with it and have many great photos starting with the elephant that dragged it from the jungle all the way through to studio shots of the chairs.”
Amboyna burl comes from narra and padauk trees (Pterocarpus indicus of the Family Fabaceae). “Amboyna burl is sometimes used as an accent wood,” added Converse. “It will polish well to an almost granite-like finish. It is a very lovely wood. I save all that I have — even the smallest pieces. Amboyna burl has a very interesting history. It was the first dashboard veneer in a Rolls Royce. It’s what I call crazy expensive but worth it.”
Picking a favorite wood for Haden Smith, drafting supervisor at Toccoa, GA-based Osborne Wood Products, (OsborneWood.com) involved a stroll down memory lane.
“My father, a professional woodcarver, often uses Eastern white pine,” said Smith.
Photo: Osborne Wood Products Farmhouse table by Decor and the Dog features Eastern white pine husky table legs from Osborne Wood Products “When I would go to his shop, it always smelled like pine, which is a very distinctive smell.”
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus of the Family Pinaceae) also has more to offer than a pleasing fragrance, said Smith. “It sands easily, with a very defined grain. Eastern white pine is easy to turn. It is a soft wood, so it doesn’t dull knives.”
About the Author
Jo-Ann KaiserJo-Ann Kaiser has been covering the woodworking industry for 31+ years. She is a contributing editor for the Woodworking Network and has been writing the Wood of the Month column since its inception in 1986.