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Wood Butcher

Would you buy old wood over new, if you could?

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28 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

From some of the responses so far, it seems that older wood will have done the majority of it's shrinking and weight loss, and could theoretically have lower damping.

I have tested some 300 year old spruce (from a building), and could not find much difference between that and spruce that was 30 years old or so.  Definitely the equilibrium mosture content was similar to decent modern wood, and significantly higher than hydrothermally processed wood.  Spruce that has been carved into a violin 300 years ago might be completely different.

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Ok. No. I don't think carving wood that was cut into a plank or such 300 years ago = wood carved into a violin 300 years ago.

And, we know from ring analysis that at least in some cases the old masters completed violins from wood that had still been growing less than 10 years earlier.

No.  I prefer to use wood that was cut at least a few years back, but not more than a lifetime ago.  Over 5 under 50 years ago? Maybe 15 to 25 years is my prefrenece.

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Interesting that this topic should pop up just when I am in the midst of CNCing an old ~20 year old one piece back. I find not much difference with a younger piece, say 7 years old. I am convinced that whatever wood you have, it must sit in your shop for over a year to acclimate. Even longer is better. If I buy young wood, say 3 years old, it goes to the back of the stack with its date. I like to work with 7+ year old wood. Time flies and before I know it, the wood has aged just like me. 

BTW, I do have a dozen processed spruce sets from @Don Noon I bought the Engelman from @kevin Prestwich. Kevin sent me three different samples of great wood to test. I selected the best tree using Don’s acoustical testing methods. Then Kevin shipped me a dozen split wedges (billets). I re-sawed them and got some  beautiful wedge pairs along with splinters in my fingers . :(  I then sent the lot to Don for processing. I will soon try one set.

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I actually once requested a wood dealer to send me freshly cut maple for the purpose of ponding it right after arrival. The idea is to extract the sap juice as long as it hasn't dried out. For other purpose I wouldn't buy fresh wood.

Otherwise I think it is of no great difference if untreated wood is 5 years old or 20 years old. Actually dendrochronolocal research unveiled that the top wood for some Cremonese instruments was pretty fresh and if I remember correctly for most tested samples not older than 25 years. 

Now I am never using untreated wood. For maple I developed a steaming procedure for spruce I am working on a pure heat treatment. The tonal result is quite different. 

 

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