Afraid to use wood my wood!

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Blog entry by Craftsman on the lake posted 02-21-2018 09:28 PM 1422 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A little fun with the title but basically I’m flummoxed here.

Back when I was in college, in the mid 70’s, I used to make guitars for fun and profit. I was a graduate of the Maine school of Luthiery at the time. I actually payed most of my college with it. After several years I got married, had kids, etc… you know the routine. And stopped all that stuff for awhile. In the last 15 years I’ve gotten back to woodworking but not guitars.

Back then I had in my mind that Walnut would make a great guitar neck. A cabinet maker in our area used to go south to Georgia (from Maine) twice a year and bring back a trailer truck full of wood for his business. I asked him if he could get some Black Walnut, quarter sawn. He said yes and brought me back some. At the time it ran me $300 for eight pieces 4”x8”x8’.

Today, I was at my local lumber distributor to pick up some Oak for a project. I noticed that Walnut had risen to $10.75 bf. Up from around $8+ a couple of months back. And for around here these guys have good prices for wood in this area. That’s why I use them. So, I figure each of my 8 walnut pieces might be worth around $200+ or calculating bf about $227. That times 8 pieces… Wow…. $1800??? And being quartersawn I’d think it might be more.

So, I love making things and I’ve made some stuff I’m proud of but to cut up wood like this for one of my tables or something else. I just can’t bring myself to do it. So, here I am being a walnut hoarder….probably for life.

To add to my discomfort.. I’ve also got two sets of guitar back/sides of Brazilian Rosewood left over from those days. I payed about $30 for them. Now each set is about $800-$1000 because of the restrictions/rarity of them. Scared to touch them. I mean, I used to make a good guitar but maybe not that good! To think I remember planing backs a couple of times and had some chip out. I’d throw them in the garbage.

Interesting dilemma don’t you think? I’ve been sitting on this stuff for 40 years and probably will to the end.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

18 comments so far

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1700 days

#1 posted 02-21-2018 09:44 PM

Interesting dilemma.
The fact that you are typing this makes me feel a little uncomfortable thinking that you are about to cut it up for something less than it should be. I can tell you have the itch burning a hole in your wood pile.

Please take Caution,
You should immediately send it to me to hold for you before you do something stupid.

But seriously, use it. make something nice. Don’t worry about it.
The value you get seeing something you made with it is worth more than the value of the wood, in my opinion.

View Rich's profile


5688 posts in 1390 days

#2 posted 02-21-2018 10:45 PM

I’m with jbay, although I can relate to your dilemma having had a few dozen board feet of quarter sawn cherry stacked in my shop for over 20 years. I’m not unwilling to use it, I just don’t work with cherry that much anymore. When I do, it’s things like cabinets and vanities for customers, and they aren’t going to pay a premium for quarter sawn wood in their bathroom.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View DocSavage45's profile


9001 posts in 3643 days

#3 posted 02-21-2018 11:21 PM


Just sell it and you’ll be rich. Buy some cheap wood and screw it up. But…you are trained. You know how. And Murphy loves anxiety! Don’t ask me how I know. Might check out what a guitar made from these woods might sell for?

Hoarding pays unless your like me and have pine from the crates used in WWII as my dad and uncle aquired them being they were better than what could be purchased locally.

What do you really want to do? Be patient and take a lot of coffee breaks. Enjoy it as you’re not doing it for a customer other than yourself?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View tyvekboy's profile


2025 posts in 3814 days

#4 posted 02-22-2018 12:13 AM

Hoarding is a disease. I know cause I have the same disease. However, enjoying making something with it is better than hoarding it. If your sons or daughters are not woodworkers after youʻre gone, someone else will will enjoy using it.

My advise is to USE IT! But make an heirloom piece that will be treasured and passed down in the family. Just make sure to sign and date it somewhere. Also put an estimated value of the piece at todayʻs price including the cost of the craftsmanship.

If I had some of that wood, I would make another rocking chair like the one that I previously made. Rocking chairs are valued (in our family anyway) and are less likely be discarded. Their appeal spans generations.

If you have musicians in the family, a musical instrument would also be a good item to make out of that wood.

With the scraps after you make the big project, you could make flag display boxes for military members of your family.

That wood is not as valuable in itʻs current state. Add value to it by making something you or someone else in the family can enjoy today and in the future. When you finish it, remember to post it on LJ so you can see what that valuable wood turned into.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Fresch's profile


494 posts in 2721 days

#5 posted 02-22-2018 12:54 AM

It’s wood it grows on trees, no really.
Bang out a couple with cheap wood then make some with your good wood.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9594 posts in 3129 days

#6 posted 02-22-2018 01:58 AM

If you build it, they will come!

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Andre's profile


3622 posts in 2607 days

#7 posted 02-22-2018 03:16 AM

Hello, my name is Andre and I am a Hoarder! not great amounts but some that are very special, My Dad picked up a couple of 4/4 Pacific Yew planks on the west coast in 2012 and then he passed away in 2013. Not sure I will ever cut that wood up?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View EarlS's profile


3772 posts in 3149 days

#8 posted 02-22-2018 06:01 PM

I had some really nice walnut I picked up from a guy that access to 50-100 year old wood. One day when I happened to be cleaning out the lumber stack and reorganizing things and I took a closer look at it and realized it was starting to fade somewhat as well as cracking on the ends more and the boards were also starting to cup, twist, and warp. I realized that I needed to make something from them before the boards were in such bad shape that I wouldn’t be able to use them. Every time I look at the table I made, I’m reminded that special wood needs to be shaped into something beautiful so others can see it.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View DJL1031's profile


18 posts in 894 days

#9 posted 02-22-2018 07:46 PM

Wherein does the beauty/value lie? Is it in it’s current state or in something you coaxed out of it? Knowing I had a Picasso in the garage means nothing….sharing it with the world is priceless.

-- Dave "It's not what the man makes out of wood, but what the wood makes out of the man"

View Momzilla03222's profile


13 posts in 1139 days

#10 posted 02-23-2018 02:13 AM

Make guitars or plant tables or something the kids & grandkids can keep forever.

Or… look down from heaven later on (optimistic here) and watch the kids burn it in a campfire. They won’t know what it is!
Donna in Lakeport

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4141 posts in 3910 days

#11 posted 02-23-2018 03:37 AM

I’m sure that there are people turning at about 3000 RPM in their graves over what has been done to what they used to own. Naaaah, they’re dead. Go make something nice out of your wood! Don’t wait around. Walnut ain’t getting any cheaper what with the blight or whatever is, killing it off.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3569 posts in 4513 days

#12 posted 02-23-2018 06:55 AM

You could make some heirloom pieces for your offspring . . . or you could just leave it as it is for their inheritance so they can sell it at a garage sale for a couple of bucks per piece.

. . . Doesn’t seem like a hard decision to me.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Lazyman's profile


5631 posts in 2188 days

#13 posted 02-24-2018 04:21 PM

I have some hickory that I milled from a 6’ log from a dead tree about 3 years ago that is some of my favorite stuff to work with. It has ambrosia beetle tunnels and spalting but is still nice and hard. Just beautiful stuff. It comes off the table saw ready for a finish and turns beautifully. I wouldn’t take $50/bft for it, even the scraps and cutoffs. The only problem is because I don’t have much left, I hesitate to use it on anything for fear the project isn’t worthy. I even regret using it for projects for friends that don’t really appreciate the uniqueness of this wood. So there it sits.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View jeth's profile


262 posts in 3639 days

#14 posted 02-24-2018 04:30 PM

Think this is something we can all relate to.. “that special wood”.. I’ve been sitting on some real “cuban” mahogany for years.. Not enough to do anything substantial and irreplaceable so what to do with it… ??

View therealSteveN's profile


5912 posts in 1375 days

#15 posted 03-01-2018 08:48 AM

It’s always about Pain or Pleasure, pretty much rules every decision we make.

So in this case, when the pain of hanging on to beautiful wood that you are scared/worried about/fear of failing with/, is overcome by the pleasure you would perceive you would get from finally using this wondrous wood, you will get it out, and do something with it.

Happens to all of us sooner or later. The actual best way to be a woodworker is to see that a piece is special, but think of it as not much, just a really nice piece of wood, but there are MILLIONS of really nice pieces of wood, yes even now. So look it over, figure it into a project, and start cutting. Afterward you will wonder why you even paused.


Be a wood collector.

In the end I think it’s really just analysis paralysis.

-- Think safe, be safe

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