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  1. Hi All I would like to know by April 30 for this. So email soon. Thanks simeon
  2. Hello Violin Makers, This is your information for the 2020 Simeon Tonewood field trips. The 2019 and 2018 trips were a huge success. Great people and fantastic wood found, including cello tops. We had a special and extraordinary time. More fun than you should be allowed to have! These trips are really special if you can make it. This year I have set it up to be essentially easy for you. We base at one location, my place near Glenwood Springs Colorado. We use this comfortable base to get to several locations for Engelmann Spruce Tonewood gathering. Bring personal items, sleeping bag and pillow. Meals provided, and they will be exceptional. To see some pics from the 2019 trips: https://www.facebook.com/simeon.chambers.56 We were very successful gathering Engelmann Spruce, even a whole bunch of cello tops. For 2020 I have some great things planned to continue the special trips to the forests of Colorado. There are 3 scheduled 4 day weekends Each trip will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. For newcomers, the dates this year are August 20, 21, 22, 23. Newcomers, those are your dates. For those of you newcomers that cannot make that trip, there are other start dates of July 23 and August 13. For these dates you will need to contact me and I can put you in touch with the group that comes those dates. If interested, just email me for many more details via email sales@toyfishfactory.com In the meantime, here are some basics: New for 2020: Each trip will base out of Simeon’s place in the mountains near Glenwood Springs, so no need to bring all the camping gear, just a sleeping bag, pillow and personal gear. There is a cost to you, indicated in the detail email Arrival is set for Thursday for each trip. Departure Sunday by 2pm. Meals will be provided. I will take care of all the food, and it will be fantastic. Thursday evening, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, Sunday morning breakfast. I made this change for fun, and to make it easier for everyone to just get here and enjoy the experience. I have great cooks lined up to prepare and make the meals, (some help needed). The plan for 2020 is for one central camp, thus Simeon’s place. This setup will allow for more relaxation and less gear needing to be brought with you. Setting up in one spot will give everyone more time to enjoy and potentially find more or better wood. We have cooking facilities, propane shower, sleeping space indoors, plenty of deck space for conversation and lots of room for wood processing. New in 2020 is a covered wood storage area if needed. Wood can be labeled and left behind if we find extra. It will season there with your name on it. Brief Itinerary: Meal and conversation Thursday evening. No group wood gathering on Thursday, but people that arrive early could be scouting a bit if they would like. Friday and Saturday we will be looking for and processing wood with a morning breakfast, portable lunch and amazing meal, drinks and conversation each evening. Sunday will be breakfast, perhaps final wood prep and preparing to leave by 2pm. Need to Knows: Group sleeping area via beds and air mattresses (provided). Use sleeping bags rather than sheets. (we are not setup for bedding). For those new, you select a bed and personal space, but do not have your own room. For details, or more flavor on this setup, contact someone who has been there. Typical meal times are 730am and 7pm. Solar power, off grid place, but can charge all your devices. Cell phone service is decent most of the time. The roads are fine for cars to get there. Renting a car in Denver would work fine. You will take home Engelmann Spruce tonewood. Last year was epic. We had lots of wood. Check the pics on Facebook. This is an overview of the three trips planned for this year. Contact me at sales@toyfishfactory.com or 303 507 5225 for info
  3. Hi All- I still have room for another 6 people for the August 15, 16, 17 field trip. Contact me for details, or any questions. simeon 303 507 5225
  4. Hi All- Some more details. We will collect engelmann spruce and possibly aspen. Last year the group took home i think 160 spruce bolts and a bunch of aspen for viola and cello. Plus a lot of perfect bass bar bolts. Maybe this year we could find some wood to split cello bars. I have the saws and tools. You supply some elbow grease. Then, after we work we relax. Beer, or hell this is Colorado after all. That reminds me. The lake that John Denver got inspiration for the song "Rocky Mountain High" is nearby. Williams Lake. I will tell you as much as i can about what i know about tonewood. We will walk the forest in some incredible areas, stopping to observe particular tree traits and microclimates You will learn a ton. I have a small fee, same as last year. Please email me for more info or to put you on the list. sales@toyfishfactory.com simeon
  5. Density Calculation, Water method. SG determined. You can use the water method to determine SG (specific gravity) accurately. SG is the ratio of how dense something is compared to water. Gold is 19.3. Maple is .55 to .75 and spruce is .30 to .55. Water is 1.00. To test a violin top, 2 piece, or other piece of wood:. Fill a 5 gallon pail about 3/4 to 7/8 full of water. Placing it on a table works best. For symmetric end to end wood: To start, float your piece of wood “endo” in the bucket and marking the water line. This means on end. You need to have both hands on the wood, finding the equilibrium floating point. There will be a meniscus, but mark the water line (slightly below the meniscus). Remove. I use a towel to dry the wood off. Now, measure the length of wood below the water line, and divide by total length. That is SG. Now, if your wood is asymmetric end to end, then float both ends, marking each time. Take an average and divide by the length. SG Calculation Volume Method If you have rectangular wood with 90 degree cuts and faces, this is easier. I show in inches, you can use metric as well. L x W x H in inches = cubic inches of the wood piece. Example piece: 2” x 1” x 15.5” = 31 cubic inches. 12” x 12” x 12” = one cubic foot = 1728 cubic inches. 31 divided by 1728 = .0179 cubic feet of wood in our example piece One cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds. Multiply .0179 by 62.4 = 1.117 pounds. The volume of the example piece would weigh 1.117 pounds if it was made of water. Weigh the sample piece. Lets say it weighs 6 ounces. 6ounces divided by 16ounces = .375 pounds .375/1.117 = .336 SG
  6. Catching up a bit: Peter Lynch, you have a good question here. “What are the top makers using, the guys selling to the really good players. What is actually going into the $20,000 + violins and the VSA gold medals. The answer is both. “ That is what the valuable information is. DGV, I have sold at least a thousand 1 piece tops, and have hundreds. They are quartersawn, I am one of the few people in the world to saw them. With the right sized logs, there is a higher yield sawing 1pc vs 2pc. Dwight, a botany expert would be good. I suggested a theory. Meyerfittings, cones are a key way to determine spruce “species”. I will explain SG calculations shortly. Peter KG, I do make strong statements sometimes. I make them based on data and observations. My only motivation to make strong statements about violin stuff/wood is that I can help people do better. When I make these strong statements it is with complete skin in the game. If I err and I give the wrong wood advice, I lose customers. I have found that success in this world starts by sorting out nonsense and going forward with the right info. It applies to everything. In the violin wood case, many do not have the time, both in longevity and just violin building bench time to get to the next level. I give answers to do that. Tango, I understand you pain. I have see this before. People often are using the wrong top wood. Melvin, The violin is over engineered for strength with some stiff and dense tops plates. As for lasting 400 years, that is somewhat of a canard. We need to build great sounding violins now, otherwise what the hell are we doing? Excellent data point on the .44 top that was at a high level sold in the marketplace. And, yes, the wood you can get today is the same as Strad had. Micro Climates do this for us. James Jones, Yes, I see bear claw figure sometimes in Engelmann. Usually not very pronounced and not much of it. Doug Cotterill, Right on. We have the same density choices as 300 years ago. Also, yes, back plate density is part of the equation when narrowing in on what SG to use in tops. Janito, Of course the densities are the same in terms of what choices we have. This is a given. David B, You have the knowledge here, very interesting. Yes, I thought the SGs were higher than .35 at times, but varied. YOU are one to listen to. You get the high prices in the violin market that others only dream about. To do that, you must know what you are talking about. I always look for what you say. Everybody, listen to what David says. simeon
  7. To follow up from yesterday, where this theory leads me is that the right spruce is Engelmann, European and Siberian because it what was originally used for violins, and what all old famous Cremona violins are made from (in that case the Euro version). I conclude for building violins, leave out the Red, Sitka and any other spruce that is not related to what I describe as the one world spruce. Reasoning is simple: all the Cremona instruments were made from this spruce. If you make a living or are trying to, you need the right wood. Dwight, yes the DNA would prove or disprove species I think. I am not a botanist so I really do not know all the answers regarding the minute differences in spruces. Spruce in violin top form all looks so similar that even experts cannot tell between Euro and Engelmann. That is part of why I have concluded they are essentially the same. Another reason is the pollen. Wind dispersed pollen will spread DNA widely. About 15,000 years ago at the farthest extent of the glaciers, spruces would have drifted well southward and to lower elevations. This movement of spruces would have covered probably everything north of 35 degrees latitude and elevated areas even in Mexico and similar in Asia. The ebb and flow of glaciers has lasted for at least 100,000 years, many of these tree moving events. The Bering Sea was high. It was a land passage for trees, and humans. Ok, Brass tacks. If the spruce is the same, why the hell does it look so different at times, or the density is different or the grain lines are more or less distinct or how come this one feels stiffer, etc. Simple answer is that trees are not formica or corian. Trees will vary in density. Give a tree perfect conditions, no stresses, and you will get round logs. There will be no tension or compression wood. This is the wood we need to use for violins. It is also the wood we need to compare. The densities will vary tree to tree just as animal personalities differ in the same species. To compare Euro with Engelmann, we would like trees from both species in microclimates that are the same (as close as possible), and the perfect conditions. Micro climates are everywhere at high elevation. The climate is changed by the elevation as well as precipitation dictated by surrounding geography. If microclimates are about equal, you will get the same type of wood with the obvious distribution of SG. In the Engelmann I cut the SG is in a range of .30 to .45. I have heard the same from the Euro spruce suppliers. Where the perception that there is a difference between Euro and Engelmann is related in my opinion due to the micro climates. As I have discussed before, at high elevation the trunks of spruces freeze starting in early October. Now, if spruces are in a micro climate moderated by an ocean (Atlantic for Euro spruce, Pacific for BC Engelmann) that changes the whole dynamic of the aesthetics of the wood as well as ultimate density. Remember the link to Terry Borman’s work in my previous post? He is on to the ultimate answer of what makes great tonewood (my experience data as well) , I believe. The wood between the grain lines versus the grain line wood has a density differential. You want less SG differential. Spruces need to grow at high elevations to have a shutoff switch in the autumn so that the grain line is not too thick (just to be clear, there are other reasons for thick grain lines, stresses). Thick grain lines would have more of the higher density wood within that piece, making the piece heavier than it needs to be. Distinct grain lines we like, just not too thick. Spruces moderated by ocean warmth can have the wider grain lines. Ok, so the question asked by many is what is the correct density or density range? I am certain it is .34 to .38 (see my data on my website). This does not mean that great violins cannot be made from higher density wood, so don’t get all worked up. In talking with hundreds of violin makers at all levels over the years, as well as observing the tonewood business, it is clear that the density range stated is in the highest demand. So, what wood to use? If you are trying to make a living at it you need to know your SGs, and you want spruce in a specific SG range build after build. To get the best odds of success, you need to leave out Sitka and Red Spruce for violins. If you have built violins with Red and Sitka and have sold them successfully for over $5k, you know how to use that spruce, fine. You’re good. I just do not believe people trying to get that great sound from where they are now or just starting out should use Red or Sitka spruce for violins. I want to make something perfectly clear, so nobody feels slighted, we have to separate commercial violin building (bench made instruments) from hobbyist/personal violin building. If comments are made and advice given about wood selection, I think it would benefit all here if there was some backup of prices obtained, or medals won etc. for a specific recommendation. Otherwise we are just going in circles. For my credibility of what I say, you can read testimonials on my web stuff. I hinted at data. In 2007 to 2012 I had 270 violins made from my wood with different permutations. Amazing conclusive data. I sold them all. All at less than $2k of course, so a different animal than what you guys do making bench instruments. Is anyone willing to post what Sitka and Red Spruce violins have fetched in the open market and who made them? And also some densities of the spruce tops? Also, maybe someone can have a thread on density where people can post what SG range they like, are using now, and even price data in some cases. simeon
  8. Hi All. Since the topic is Engelmann Spruce, my specialty, I thought it appropriate to comment. Please, I do not want a pissing match or anything. I will give you my opinions/data, and maybe ask for some from others’ opinions and data as well. Let’s cut through crap, and provide some data for violin makers out there that want to get better sound. There is so much data as to the right wood for the best violin sound, you just have to interpret it. Start with this: http://www.bormanviolins.com/articles/PLosOne_Comparison_Cremonese_Modern.pdf More on that later. Engelmann of its typical density is really the wood to use for violins. European spruce (Norway Spruce also known as Picea Abies) is also the wood to use in the proper densities. All native tonewood of Euro origin is this species. Certainly you could say any spruce in the proper density would be something to consider. That is the theory. We can narrow it down though. It will not be three sentences though. Spruces grow natively in the northern hemisphere only. We know that conifers are pollinated using very fine pollen, via the wind. Your allergies know this. Now, here is the deal. The northern hemisphere spruces can pollinate each other in many cases, but there are some exceptions. There are over two dozen species of spruce (supposedly). I think wind pollination would never allow this (so many separate species) to happen. Anyway, NA has black, white, red, Engelmann and Sitka. Microclimates in specific mountain ranges in Europe, China, Japan, and the former USSR get the rest of spruce species names. These spruces can generally all pollinate each other. They are essentially the same. If they were next door to each other, they would not be different species named by humans. There are a few of them, like Red Spruce in the eastern USA, Sitka on the west coast and some species in Japan and Sakhalin Island that would be different enough to not cross pollinate. Here is my contention: Any spruce in the northern hemisphere that is of size to harvest for tonewood, is essentially the same except for Red, Sitka and some (unnamed here) species from Sakhalin island and Japan. Perhaps maybe an isolated small geographic exception. This means there is one world tonewood spruce that is what you know as Engelmann, Siberian and European Spruce. This spruce can have varied densities and subjective “properties”. We humans make Euro and Engelmann Spruce different in our minds, even with judgments made objectively! Yes, the judgments about violin spruce are made objectively, but probably mostly on a small sample basis. No need to restate the Euro vs Engelmann here, you all know it. Here is the problem. The objective judgments are based on density!!!! That is why I have been on a quest to get people to understand SG and density of their spruce! (Joe Curtin started me on this) Sitka, and American Red Spruce would be different than this one world spruce that rings the northern hemisphere that is used for tonewood. Engelmann, European and Siberian is what is used in violins. It is the same wood, and is the correct wood in the proper density ranges. Trees vary in density pretty drastically, in the same stands. I can’t explain it. Just the way it is. Here or in Europe. Brief comment without buying the paper: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00606-007-0551-0 Now, here is where it gets interesting. Sitka Spruce only crosses with White Spruce, not Engelmann or Black spruce, the two other spruces in its possible range. Also, Sitka is the only spruce that can be definitively identified by visual cues once the spruce is cut into boards/pieces (under a microscope only). To be clear, the cell structure of Sitka Spruce has a distinctive look from all other spruces. Sitka grows in the temperate rain forest of the west coast of NA from northern OR to AK. So what. I will comment tomorrow. I gotta go right now, more tomorrow. In the meantime, Craig and other Sitka proponents, I will ask some questions tomorrow about what are the results of your violins. We need some market data. simeon
  9. "My understanding is that spiral growth patterns are genetic and can occur as left or right spirals. The spiral pattern is due to the lateral transfer of water and nutrients (sap) from the tracheids and xylem from the roots to the leaves. The lateral sap transfer, i.e. spiral growth pattern, occurs in all trees, but may be too small to be easily observed in some. The amount of spiral is influenced by root water stress, which may or may not correlate with wind direction or slope. For example surface water always flows downhill. However, water flow underground will not necessarily follow the above ground contours. Spiral sap transportation provides water and nutrients to branches above roots with poor nutrient/water uptake. Photosynthates (via the phloem) will also follow this spiral pattern otherwise removing limbs all on one side of a tree could result in root damage below those branches. Therefore, twist in the grain is genetic and the severity is influenced by the water/nutrient uptake of the roots." Good find Jim. I would not have guessed this or figured this. The paper in the link is written by Hans Kubler, one of my professors at UW. As I state on my website, Hans asked to see me one day after class. He asked how did I know wood so well? He really did that, that was in 1985 when I was 18 years old. Don- I believe the twist is always right hand twist. Look at the tree and as the check moves up the tree it goes to the right. Sorta like the water circling the drain or low pressure weather systems and wind direction- counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere. Nathan- Like I suspected, perhaps girdling could leave a tree without fungus or bugs for two years. It would be a risky thing to do to try to get great wood, also the checking would occur. When Red Maple is cut to lumber back where you are, it will color up fast, even with getting into the kiln soon. As for wood being heavier after drying if it was cut during the wet water uptake of the spring than say october, nonsense. I have cut spring sap blowdown spruce and fall/winter spruce. There will be no discernable difference in weight. The reason is simple. Maple syrup is made at about a 40 to one ratio. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. That syrup still has liquid in it. Take that syrup and make it so thick it turns to a solid form of maple sugar. The volume is small, and the weight is very small. 40 to one is on the good stands of trees. Other maples are not as good as this. If you were to split a bolt of maple from a sap filled tree, lets calculate the amot of sap in that bolt. dimensions 18" x 6" x (3" x 2") Since I have not worked with green maple I will have to estimate that the maple bolt will lose 50% of its initial weight (spruce loses 70%). That would be the water lost (sap lost). Maple remains much heavier than spruce after drying. The volume of the bolt is 270 cubic inches. It should weigh 9.75 pounds plus or minus (same weight as water, SG=1) Half the volume in water would be (lets round it), 5 pounds. The reason to use half the volume is that the actual wood uses up half the volume. That would be about 5/8 of a gallon. Divide that .625 gallon by 40 and you would have .0156 gallon of maple syrup. That is 2 ounces by volume, and i will assume the volume is the same as the weight in ounces. However, there is still moisture in it in this two onces. Dry firewood would have most of this moisture of that 2 ounces removed from drying. So, even if the sap stayed in liquid form as "maple syrup" within the bolt of maple, the sap would have a maximum effect of a 2 ounce difference in weight. Total weight after drying of about 5 pounds. That would be a 2.5% weight differential. It cannot be that high, as the bolt will lose most of the moisture in the maple syrup, getting down to a very few grams of sugar. (All calculations were generous here to try and give calculate at least some weight to the final weight of the sap sugars.)
  10. Oh, one other thing. In the forest here in Colorado in winter the temperatures can get to 40 below zero F in the flat meadows way up high (you need the cold air to settle in a pocket rather than dump into a valley). Last winter the log trucks at 10,500 feet were having diesel fuel gelling problems. This extreme cold environment does not allow for any sap movement in the stem from mid October until at least late March, likely April. I have cut logs on October 2nd that have 1" of frozen sapwood already. So, as far as moon wood and that crap, it is nonsense. There is no sap movement in the trunk of a tree during the cold months. Sap will move in the trunk when it thaws completely in the spring. simeon
  11. "Ring barking kills the tree by interrupting the flow of sugar, created in the leaves, to the roots. Without this nourishment, the roots die, followed by the rest of the tree. So the sugar is essentially trapped in the part of the tree above where it is ringed, and sugar production continues in that portion until the roots die." This is correct. Ring barking or girdling as we call it. We used to do this with poor speciman oak trees during the thinning process. The moisture keeps coming up because we girdle only an inch or two from the outside bark. Water moves up in the inside of the sapwood, down from the leaves in the outside of the sapwood. The purpose for girdling was to kill the tree and the bark would then die and fall off. For firewood seasoning this was ideal. It would then dry faster. That is for firewood. For spruce, we would not want to girdle. The tree would still get lots of moisture coming up keeping the wood moist (woodworm food), unless you girdled really deep. Sometimes sapwood can be a full 4 inches. The real problem is the tree is weakened. The tree then has to fight off beetles that want to lay eggs on the moist wood and can no longer do so being compromised. The stem would get blue stain and the beetles would love it. It is possible, if there are no beetles in the first two years or so after girdling the wood quality could survive without worm or blue damage, but you could never be sure. In this case, the outer 1" or so would have to lose enough moisture to make it non-inviting to beetles. In the forest here in Colorado, we have a spruce beetle outbreak that is killing massive amounts of mature spruce. The USFS told me they expect 90% dead. There is also a pine beetle here that has devastated millions of acres of lodgepole pine. I see spruce that are of course not girdled, but are fighting the beetle infestation by using sap excretion. The trees are able to last 2 or 3 years, but then die. If i catch them right, the blue stain is not completely all over, and the worms have not bored into the wood. As for the portions of the logs used for tonewood, the butt flare is typically mostly gone at 4 feet from ground level. For lumber calculations we use a term DBH. Diameter at breast height. When we cut tonewood, the highest quality wood would be starting at about the breast height level, assuming the butt flare is about done. Ideally, we want to see low taper logs without large flare. Definitively, the wood just above the flare all the way up to stem that has the appropriate diameter and no branches is what we use. I have not noticed higher density whatsoever in the lower stem versus the upper stem. Sometimes the lower 8 feet or so can have poor wood due to a number of reasons, but if it was clean of branches as a 12" tree it is typically very good. One log I cut 2 years ago had a 23" butt, 20" tip and was 33 feet long. Only 3" of taper in 30 feet. Gunbarrel straight. A clean log like this makes a great day. When calculating board feet in a forest, cut or specific log, the DBH is a key number in volume calculations. However, the tip diameter (log tip) is what is used for the calculation of volume as well. Volume example: A log 33 feet long is calculated at 32 feet net length. DBH=24, tip diameter inside bark =20 for an average of 22". This would be 648 board feet. Regarding a European family surviving on the income from tonewood, no. Tonewood would be a separate endeavour providing some income at some times. A tradition with some income. simeon chambers www.rockymountaintonewood.com www.simeonchamberstonewoodstore.com
  12. Roger- Thank you for the kind words. Hi Nathan- Thanks for the question of what twist comes from. Twist is NOT from wind. I know many of us have been on the chairlifts while skiing either here in the USA or in Europe and have noted the dead spruce of small to large size that show checking (cracking) in a twist format on the trees. Twisted grain, severe sometimes. Especially when we ride the lift and we have our faces tucked into the collars of our coats as the wind blows near treeline. Many ski areas here in Colorado have ski lifts that go to treeline or even above, and in winter, the days we often choose to ski or snowboard have this awful wind. Just our luck. Well, the wind is not the cause of the twist. Thinking wind could have some positive effect on producing twist has some good intuitive thought I suppose, but in my observations out there, near treeline where the wind is most pervasive, I do not see any more or less than at lower elevations. My experience of hunting elk near treeline for the last 25 years, drooling at the Engelmann stems at up to 11,800 feet in wilderness has given me a lot to look at. Some of these dead trees had twist, some not, usually some, just the same as I see from logs down below at 9200 to 10,500 feet. But, the key to this conclusion is when observing a sheltered stand of Engelmann with dead and green trees, and seeing that twist occurs badly in some trees in this environment leads me to believe this with full certainty. On a side note, it is interesting that us humans prefer logs without twist. The log home builders, lumber producers and us tonewood people like no twist. It is more stable in any form that we ultimately cut it for any of our uses. Some stands of timber have less, some have more. Some twist in trees is so severe it is really amazing, like 8" or more of twist in 4 feet. I have concluded it is a genetic characteristic, but do not have data to support that the seeds of a perfect splitting tree will produce a perfect no twist tree. It must be like blue eyes and brown eyes. You can get both. As for determining twist, if a log sits for awhile, with bark peeled off, it will check. If the checks go right up the tree with no twist, that is a good clue. simeon chambers
  13. Bill's comment: "I still find it mind-boggling that these foresters would be de-branching and cultivating trees that wouldn't be ready for harvest until several generations had passed, especially if they wanted very slow grown alpine spruce. Followed then by sawing, splitting, sealing the end grain and finally drying the wood, all in the bush on the side of a mountain. I suppose if the altitude was high enough, woodworm and other insects wouldn't be much of a problem." A beautiful forest is a beatiful forest. Anyone that produces tonewood drools at the sight of straight, clean spruce stems in a forest. Even if they are not of proper size yet. A spruce forest that has close proximity to people and known for tonewood, us wood guys (tonewood people) would prune the trees with the future in mind, as well as having the personal enjoyment of watching the trees grow bigger in our own lifetime. Whether we harvest it or not, and the satisfaction that we did our part to continue the tonewood tradition. It sounds odd, but this is the type of thing earthy people do. Christ, we humans can do some things that we do no insist on getting paid for. At least that is the way I feel. Martin is correct again, the splitting and stacking of the bolts would be done back in covered conditions, off the slopes. Secure from thieves as well as liquid precip. Wood worm has nothing to do with altitude. The woodworm comes in as a beetle first, and will work for food at any altitude. These beetles will lay the eggs in the especially nice month of June/July when the sapwood is full of sugars that they like. The woodworms come from the eggs that hatch. They eat under the bark until the first winter, then in spring bore holes in spruce logs thus ruining tonewood. The beetles bring a gift for the tree as well: fungus attached to their bodies that makes the blue stain. The blue stain actually gets way ahead of the beetle larvae in terms of wrecking the wood. The larve look like house fly maggots and the birds love them. If you take green spruce logs and remove the bark, the beetles will not find that they will want to lay their eggs. If you then split it to bolts, no way are they coming in. Last thing for now is that when the bolts get down to about 12% humidity they are safe from bugs. A long term bug repellant is not needed. 12% MC would be conditions of 60 degrees F and 65% humidity. That is very high rh, but just my example of where safety for the wood would be. This is for spruce. I do not have extensive experience with maple at marginal rh. simeon chambers
  14. Hi All, Simeon here. I was alerted to this thread and asked if I wanted to comment and decided I will give some thoughts. I can shed some real world tonewood producer light on tonewood harvest. First, I have scanned the page 11, 12, 13, in this thread, so maybe I will miss a few points. Starting with Martin’s post: “The way to know the quality of the wood is to have tended it since it was a sapling - there is really no other way to know that you're not going to discover nasty concealed branches or other defects, ingrown bark, whatever. Stands of timber were managed in this way over many generations by one family or guild. On a piece of flattish high ground with sufficient spacing between trees, the growth pattern is totally consistent. So you don't need to fell the tree to know what you're getting .... in fact when you look at a 12 foot log in the round you can tell pretty much nothing about the quantity of knots. A spruce log can be perfect on the outside and unusable 3 inches in. The ONLY way to ensure perfect quality is to watch the stuff growing.” This tree tending would most certainly be/have been the case in some areas in Europe- the tending of trees over generations. I did this as a child in Wisconsin as an example. We thinned and pruned, eliminating the poor specimens in a wild, mixed forest. If the area in Europe was used to producing tonewood, the private ground trees, (maybe public trees too) would be pruned. Someone, at some time that appreciates quality logs would likely prune them. Really, why wouldn’t they if the family was familiar with tonewood? You have to have very few branches for tonewood, and they know this. Fact is, for people like me, we would enjoy doing that. Martin is correct, this would occur easiest on flatish ground at spruce altitudes, and correct about the consistent grain spacing we all like to see. Yes, on the 12 foot log example. The outside can look great, having been raked clean of branches by neighboring blow downs 50 to 150 years prior. I often see the 3 to 4” in from the bark where the knots show up. The outside looks great. 50 years is 2 to 3 inches typically, could be more or less, but once the tree heals the branch scars over many years, these scars are hard if not impossible to see. If the people observed the growth and knew the pruning occurred, the knot issue gets the tonewood producer a step ahead when selecting logs, and creates higher value logs. Here is the rub of watching the trees growing. Yes, that would be great to see for the tonewood producer over the generations. However, MOST spruce trees grow with twist. Anyone producing tonewood knows this. You can watch your spruce tree from sapling to 24” butt, but if it has more than a little twist, it will (or needs to be) be sold for lumber. I would estimate that only 1 in 10 spruce logs I see have a twist spec that meets what I need (3/8” twist or less in 18”). I would assume similar in Europe. So, can they cull for twist? Possibly yes. At a diameter of maybe 6”. Logs would be evaluated at harvest for proper product. Tonewood logs would be the no twist logs that have few branches and without other grain line issues. There are visual cues for twist on logs/trees, but the best test is cutting an 18” round and splitting it. Test done. Yes or no on tonewood because you can see the twist and the grain line stuff. Is it pretty wood, or are there some hard lines etc. You actually know right away. Twist can increase moving up the tree, but generally not a huge increase. Reject all the logs with unacceptable twist. This is how it works now, and would have back then. “Most importantly, you have to understand pre-mechanized wood processing. Cross-cutting is about 10 times easier than ripping, so without the help of water-powered or motorized saws, any wood product which didn't need to be long would be kept short, and anything which didn't need to be sawn would be split.” Right on the money. Well said. Tonewood quality logs split way faster than you could saw them. Sawing correctly would probably take 3 to 5 times longer today. Back then 50 times longer. “So given all this, when it comes to tonewood spruce there is absolutely no reason to transport a log many hundreds of miles before processing it. I can conceive of a scenario where you might shoot it downhill and to your sawmill before cross-cutting (just because you've got the technology in place for other types of logs), but logic suggests to me that tonewood billets would be cut as close as possible to the growth place of the tree ...” Exactly correct. It is completely obvious that the logs at altitude to be used for tonewood would have been cut to the short lengths very close to the felling spot and split into bolts. Skidding with oxen to a log deck possibly, then split there. A 33 foot spruce log in the fall or winter with a 24” butt and 20” tip weighs about 3400 pounds. There is no way they would take the whole log to the Po River, even in 8 foot sections. As pointed out by someone, the waste and defective portions need not be transported. (the cores can be discarded about 4” or more from center, and defective visual pieces, knot areas etc.) The other thing that splitting does is let the wood start releasing moisture. Fast. With no anchorseal, that would be tough to deal with, and as someone pointed out, the pieces would have been left long. I would estimate 20” for violin wood. Spruce will start checking (cracking at the exposed endgrain) in a matter of hours. Here in Colorado, I have 24 hours on dry days to get the sealer on, or risk checking damage. They would have no more than 5 days or so in above freezing temps before checks would then become a concern. I will speculate that not only did the tonewood logs get split right away, but for violin bolts, the outer edge width would have been within ¼” of 2”. So, 1.75” to 2.25”. The reason is that if you leave it thicker than that you start to get massive checking in green wood without some sort of end sealer. Even with anchor seal, leaving 4" to 6” outside dimension of bolt width, a large and centered check will develop. Wood loses moisture 15 times faster through exposed endgrain than the split face or rounded surface. Another reason for splitting early in the process is to eliminate fungal growth, blue stain. With moving air (wind, breeze), the wood dries rapidly at rh of 50% or less. It will lose 70% of its weight by the time it is ready to carve. Sorting and grading split bolts that weigh 50 to 70% less is much easier, and less costly to ship. Full logs will blue stain in 2 to 3 months, or less in warm weather. Full logs in above 50 degree F weather will degrade in 60 days or less. Tonewood logs would have been split right away. This leads to the topic of possible treatment for bugs and fungus. Crib stacked bolts with air movement will dry fast above 60 degrees F in most temparate climate conditions. Get them to warm dry weather at low elevation and drying occurrs really rapidly. Get the MC to 15% in 60 days and this will eliminate any threat of bugs or fungus. That is all that is needed. In more humid areas, more time. If borax was used, it would be topical. It would be a pain in the ass to soak all those bolts. It really does not make sense to me to soak wood that we are trying to dry out. I could see a topical application of a baby powdered type borax after any point in the drying, by wetting all surfaces, then the fine borax, then complete the drying process in cribstacks. I doubt that was done. Tonewood is produced from the length of the log from above the flare of the butt, to portions with acceptable specs down to a diameter of about 17". Sometimes there is some real character in the butt flare section to make some lower grade tops. Tonewood is rare. Ridiculously rare, and is cultivated to some extent over generations in some places in Europe. For my operation, I look through thousands and thousands of logs to find two dozen or so per year. And, even then, the discarded pieces are immense, and the final volume of violin tops is 35% of the total log volume on a near perfect log. 12% of original log volume ends in saw dust. 53% of original log volume is end trim, cores, defects etc. This would be for a violin top log, all 2 piece tops. In old times, with split faces, not sawn, 40% to 45% of original volume would be presented to the makers in Cremona. simeon chambers
  15. Thanks Wesley and others for the nice comments.I wanted to state that after Wolfjk questioned my credibility, I needed to clear up any credibility issue. That is why I posted the testimonials. Who better to tell you about my “credibility” than my customers. I was not trying to “take advertising to new heights” as Lyndon stated. Nice going Lyndon. Lyndon- you are exactly the type of person I was referring to when I said some peoples’ advice should not be followed. Why would I want to mimic Tennessee Red Spruce??? That wood is wrong, and you are leading people the wrong way . For data, please tell me and everyone of the instruments you have made from that wood that have won an award or are played by someone of importance? Your snide comments that are really subtle insults, and should not be followed with “sincerely”.Simeon
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