View Full Version : Wood purchasing ‘mistake’?

05-02-2015, 02:08 AM
Being new to ukulele building I have been trying to source wood considered suitable. (but at a decent price)

I was very happy to find ‘MADERAS BARBER’ a Spanish tone-wood supplier. I excitedly filled my basket and purchased lots of wood as it is fantastically cheep, and i had to cover postage costs.

I now wait expectantly, hoping that it is as good as I need, (I’m not ready for top grade stuff yet!) although I have now read that it could be ‘green wood’ requiring drying prior to use...

Does that mean that it will be of no use to me for a while? have I wasted my time and money? I have nowhere to store it for the next 5 yrs!!!

Pete Howlett
05-02-2015, 02:28 AM
All wood requires 'conditioning' after you resaw it or purchase it. Most of us have invested in 'wood futures' to avoid working with so-called unseasoned wood. Buy from a British supplier like David Dyke - he knows his onions.

05-02-2015, 06:46 AM
You don't have to wait years for thin wood. A few months with both surfaces exposed to air ought to do it even for green wood. Neck stock will take longer. One year per inch of thickness is the general rule.

As Pete says, most of us stock at least a year's worth of wood so we know it's good and dry when we go to build it. If this stuff is wet, then just buy one instrument's worth of wood from a luthier place that guarantees ready to use, and get to the Maderas Barber stuff later.

Make sure you control the humidity in your shop, too. Wales is pretty wet this time of year, right?

05-04-2015, 05:55 AM
Hi Kev. I have recently taken delivery of a couple of guitars-worth of wood from a similar source - Madinter in Spain. I was unfortunate in that at the time it arrived, the relative humidity in Shropshire (or in my workshop at any rate) had dropped to a low of 35% - absolutely unprecedented in my experience and I had not thought to check before opening the package. I have the capability to control workshop humidity, but only in a downwards direction! I had no remedy for the low humidity, and within a short time of unpacking the wood to check it out, three pieces had started to curl. The monkeypod had a waxy feel to it when unpacked, which I now think was dampness. It had started to move within maybe 30 minutes, but it was the piece of sitka spruce uppermost on the pile that was worst affected - 6mm or so curl developed across the width whilst I ate my lunch! I tried not to panic and found the information from the LMI website pretty helpful in dealing with the problem.


To be completely honest, the curl in the spruce was so bad I resorted to a hairdryer on the convex face followed by a domestic iron. Please note - I am not recommending this technique, but it worked to flatten that particular piece which was initially too bad to go in the stack.

The low humidity was associated with the beautifully warm, dry weather we were experiencing mid-April. Thankfully, humidity was back to a more normal 50% within a couple of days, and by following the LMI advice the wood has straightened itself out on stickers with weight uniformly applied to the top of the stack. I doubt you will experience such low humidity (the weather is back to normal), but be prepared to get the wood stickered up without delay to uniformly expose both sides to the air. It pays to invest in a reasonable quality relative humidity gauge for your workshop & wood storage area, and pay attention to what it tells you ... which is what I should have done!

I bought the wood to use in at least 12 months time, so wasn't too fazed ... but I have never experienced anything like that before when buying wood from UK suppliers.

Pete Howlett
05-04-2015, 06:58 AM
Sadly, Madinter has a poor record where wood is concerned. Also remember it is coming from a dry country. I'd unpack it and leave it under concrete blocks for a few weeks...

05-04-2015, 07:59 AM
Thanks Pete. For the avoidance of doubt, if I go down this route again (which despite the attractive pricing, now seems doubtful) would you advocate I just put all the wood under concrete blocks in a single pile, or would you insert "sticks" between each piece of wood first, as per the LMI recommendation? This info will hopefully assist the OP as well!

05-04-2015, 11:31 AM
Sticks between pieces, so both surfaces are exposed to air. I always stack them immediately after unpacking, to prevent curling during the first hour or two of rapid moisture gain/loss. Once they're fully acclimated you can stack them directly, but it is still possible to get end splits if the humidity drops suddenly. Sealing the endgrain will prevent that for the most part. Softwoods don't seem to need it, but the more brittle hardwoods (Brazilian rosewood in particular) do.

Pete Howlett
05-04-2015, 12:44 PM
Stickering is necessary when the wood is not fully seasoned. Airflow and position away from direct sunlight are more important than anything else. All this is text book. Saw text book solutions go out the window when we had a pile of highly figured wet quarter sawn oak delivered at college - dog boards. The technician wedged these boards in the cellar against the ceiling for 9 months then stickered. After I stickered $1500 of wet koa and watched it turn into chips I really don't follow the book any more.

05-04-2015, 07:23 PM
When re-sawing into thin slices, if the wood still has considerable moisture, I will cut it, then shrink wrap the whole bundle tight for a couple of months, or more, letting it adjust slowly. Then, when fully unwrapping it later , I watch it closely to see if it is stable or not. I almost always do this when re-sawing hardwoods from thick stock.

05-05-2015, 01:48 AM
Thanks for the replies so far

The wood arrived today, and If I am honest (for what I paid) I am very happy with it!
I have used a moisture meter in all the wood, and almost everything came up as 0%

The 2 blocks of mahogany ranged between 7-25% in places, everything else was 0%!
Most pieces have the ends treated with wax?
I realise I am very green myself when it comes to this hobby.
I'm thinking that some of this stuff might be useable sooner rather than later?

05-05-2015, 12:44 PM
What kind of moisture meter are you using? I doubt very seriously that it is at 0%.