View Full Version : Just Curious

04-07-2011, 05:31 AM
I am reading some tremendous threads on here about how Ukes are made. I have seen some incredible types of wood that I have never even heard of before. I am wondering, though, how and where do the luthiers locate wood they will use to build a Uke???? I am assuming that it is not like a Home Depot type of thing, right? I have not really seen woods with such beautiful grains and characteristics in it as I have seen on this forum....

04-07-2011, 06:39 AM
i got them from ebay, the guitar/luthier section...
there are also many tonewood companies and luthier supply companies selling top/back/side.
They mainly sell guitar sets, but also small selection of uke sets.

04-07-2011, 09:30 AM
Hey mendel, go online and check out Stewart-MacDonald and Luthiers Mercantile Inc. They are two of the big suppliers of lutherie equipment, supplies and wood. LMI concentrates more on wood and Stew-Mac more on tools and supplies, both they both sell wood. Only about 1% of the wood produced is suitable for instrument making, so it is expensive.


04-07-2011, 10:27 AM
Many of the uke sets I use are cut out from guitar sets. With careful planning it's possible to get at least 2 ukes and sometimes 3 out of 1 guitar set. Depending on sizes of course.

It is possible to find nice wood at your local Home Depot or what have you. Our big box store in Australia is called Bunnings, and the local wood for mouldings, casements etc is a Eucalyptus called Tassy Ash. One of my students last year build a great little concert uke from a stick he found rummaging through the off cut pile.

Vic D
04-07-2011, 03:53 PM
Here's a noob answer... Lowes...(Poplar) lol. And eBay... eBay has the cream of the crop if you can afford it but that's not really fair to all the great suppliers out there who probably put out some great stuff at better prices. It would be great if we had a list of awesome tonewood suppliers.. I've got a few that were mentioned on this site and others... but a good up to date extensive list by us uke builders who have somewhat different needs seems in order eh? Personally, I'm into the local sustainable wood thang, poplar is considered a pest around here it's so abundant and I have to say it sounds warm and full when done right. I'm kind of into the local (Kentucky) thing, maple, poplar, black locust, persimmon, osage orange, etc... not too dadgum impressed with walnut or cherry yet... but I'm sure it's my noob skills...

04-07-2011, 04:59 PM
It's there, just not at Home Depot or Lowe's unless you want Poplar.
Try http://www.woodfinder.com/
Check the local Woodworking Clubs/Guilds and Shops.
Check the "Materials" section of craislist.
Check tree services in your area for short sections of West Indies (Cuban) Mahogany trunks (not limbs). It grows there and is used as a landscape shade tree. Split it on the quarter and let it dry for a few years.
This guy in Islamorada has a business http://my.att.net/p/s/community.dll?ep=16&groupid=367582&ck=

04-07-2011, 05:10 PM
Here’s a list of wood suppliers whose websites I check in with occasionally.

Gilmer Wood (http://www.gilmerwood.com/Gilmerwood%20instrument_wood.htm[/url)

Hawaiian Hardwoods Direct (http://www.curlykoa.com/)

Northwind Tonewood (http://www.northwindtimber.com/index.html)

Notable Woods (http://www.notablewoods.com/index.html)

RC Tonewoods (http://rctonewoods.com/RCT_Store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=4)

Volcano Guitar Works (http://www.volcanoguitarworks.com/index.php?id=home)

04-07-2011, 11:11 PM
A couple of my favourite tonewood suppliers

In the USA is Allied Luthier (http://www.alliedlutherie.com/index.html). Todd has been in the game for decades and highly respected and great to deal with.

In Australia is Australian Tonewoods (http://www.australiantonewoods.com/). Tim is great to deal with, and I highly recommend him for anything Australian. Don't let his web site fool you into thinking he doesn't stock what you might want. Just fire off an email and ask. He has a full time job teaching high school students so updating websites instead of cutting up wood or teaching tends to be put off.

04-10-2011, 08:31 AM
Okay..I admit I'm a cheapskate!I've been known(especially locally!) to haunt local thrift stores for people's old high school project honduras mahogany bookcases,a huge homemade cradle(2'x3'!),1960s-70s bed headboards(poplar,walnut,mahogany) and other things for dirt cheap..and turn those wonderful furniture pieces back into lumber!.Ukuleles don't take a lot of wood and a good bookcase will give you about 18-24 board feet of 3/4" wood 10-12" wide that can be resawn into at least three times that much with a tablesaw and some handwork,a lot of planing, and a lot of sanding...with the right shop equipment and elbow grease,of course.Be warned..you must be committed(or should be) taking on that type of project and it takes a lot of effort but the rewards are worth it!
If you are doing only a couple uke projects..BUY the tonewoods already cut!.They are worth the money and no effort on your part to make them.If you want a large stock for cheap with a lot of labor and "woodluv" involved,look for good solid older furniture or other things made of better quality types of wood and remanufacture them back to lumber.
Vic..Question here..You mentioned "locust" as a wood you have used.I have a couple hundred board feet of 3/4+" and up stuff(black locust)..but it seems awful heavy and too hard for something like ukuleles(let alone resaw,plane,sand to uke thickness).Are there any pictures posted here of one made from that wood?I'm seriously interested in seeing one..or I might have to use all that wood for rustic outdoor furniture or something else...bandsawn 20 years ago and stacked/dried/stored indoors 90% of the time!