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Thread: Fine grained redwood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    Default Fine grained redwood

    I have some redwood that used to be water tanks on top of New York City apartment buildings. I got to go through the pile of planks that were taken down and replaced and could pick out some that are perfectly quarter-sawn. The planks are 2.25" thick and 6 to 12 inches wide.
    I have one plank that has very fine grain. I got a cool little microscope that plugs into a USB slot on my computer and is just another camera to the computer. I took a small off-cut from making a top, fine-sanded the edge, and set about counting the rings. It took 331 years to grow a section that is 4.5" wide. Very slow growth!
    Here is a picture from the microscope. That is a .5mm mechanical pencil tip.
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    Last edited by jupiteruke; 02-22-2021 at 04:42 AM.

  2. #2
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    Briarcliff, TX - Fabulous Hill Country home to Willie Nelson, and me!
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    Ordinarily, Redwood would be considered "to soft" to make a decent tone wood. It's about as soft as White Pine. But, I have a Uke with a "Sinker Redwood" top that sounds great. Sinker Redwood is cut from logs that spent the last 100 years or so on the bottom of the river, and have only recently been rescued, so to speak. While on the bottom, the wood has taken in a lot of minerals from the water, and it has hardened. Kind of sounds as if the wood had been on the road to becoming fossilized. Anyway, it harden up, and is now great tone wood. Perhaps the same thing has happened to your Redwood water tank slats?
    Last edited by VegasGeorge; 02-22-2021 at 05:03 AM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Virginia USA
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    Here's a uke built of only redwood. Well, a few ebony bits but other than that all redwood. It's quite nice, very music box-ish and chimey sounding. I don't recommend using it for sides as they were near impossible to bend without cracks. But it's very solid and is holding up quite well.

    redwood.jpg
    Rodney Paul Adams

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasGeorge View Post
    Ordinarily, Redwood would be considered "to soft" to make a decent tone wood.
    Considered too soft by whom? Redwood is my most commonly used top wood. I don't find it too soft at all. If anything it's harder than some other top woods in use. And I also don't feel that I've noticed a difference between sinker and redwood sourced from stumps/fallen logs that haven't been wet.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2013
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    Hawaii Island
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    I also use redwood anytime I am building a uke with a softwood top. Usually curly redwood. Here are a couple of photos. One is a reclaimed all redwood uke from a couple of years ago. No issues with bending the sides. Being all softwood, it was not a powerful uke, but had a pleasant balanced sound with enough volume. The other shows a curly redwood top. Curly can be risky, and I've lost a few, but successful results are worth the risk to me.
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  6. #6
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    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pegasus Guitars View Post
    it was not a powerful uke, but had a pleasant balanced sound with enough volume.
    This has been my experience too. The tone was well balanced and complex but no volume cannon for sure. Nice for delicate finger picking but couldn't hold up to hard strumming.

    Anyway, I literally live next to the river where most of the worlds supply of "sinker redwood" was harvested so I get my pick of the best of the best. Below is a big sinker log. My house is on the other side of that hill.

    REDWOOD-LOG.jpg

    The salvage is a fascinating story if you want to read it here.

    http://www.redwoodsalvagesales.com/t...vage-story.htm

  7. #7
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    Apr 2015
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    Redwood is probably my favorite top wood, especially as I like a low-G setup and the redwood really responds well to the lower registers.

    I think of water-tank redwood as "sinker redwood from up in the sky". Spent a lot of years with water soaking into/through it, and drying on the outside. Some is very streaky because they band the water tanks with iron bands.
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  8. #8
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    Jan 2016
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    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
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    As an owner of a Jupiter ukulele with a "water tank redwood" top, I can confirm that it is not only beautiful looking but also beautiful sounding!

    Last edited by Snargle; 02-22-2021 at 12:45 PM.
    Larry

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  9. #9
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    Jun 2020
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    Redwood is gorgeous and has a good variation in color and grain pattern which gives you some artistic choice in the matter. It sounds great, it's fairly easy to work (although it can be brittle), and it's available from "sustainable" or reclaimed sources if you look for them. I really don't think we can ask for anything more in a softwood for instrument tops. I love how stiff it is and I feel that contributes to the wonderful tone. Coming to ukuleles from a guitar background, I expected that I would prefer traditional steel string folk guitar material choices for ukes - spruce, for instance - but I've since realized that, as far as I'm concerned, redwood is the king for softwood tops on ukes.



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