English Elm. Guitar wood?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Michael.N.
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:06 am

Go for it. I suppose if you quarter saw it and let it season for long enough it will minimise the dangers. At the very worst you have the perfect splint material should it ever crack. I've never used Elm but my guess is that it will be OK providing it's well seasoned, a sensible 'cut' and kept with good humidity control as a finished instrument. I have a soft spot for using local woods too. My own personal opinion is that the rosewood mantra has been going on for far too long. Time to recapture the renaissance spirit of instrument making.
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Philipp Lerche
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:42 am

Hehe, word up Michael !! :D
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

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Phil

Ryeman
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Ryeman » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:54 pm

Thanks to all for your interest and encouragement. I am going to cut some wood up tomorrow!

Alan

Ryeman
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Ryeman » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:23 pm

Spent most of today splitting elm logs into quarters. Is there enough wood here for a guitar?

Alan
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printer2
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by printer2 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:43 pm

You will be laminating them together I imagine.
Fred

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Philipp Lerche
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:27 pm

If you cut em very carefully, it should barely be enough for one set of back n sides !
Otherwise glue them together like mentioned. :wink:
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

JRomano
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by JRomano » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:51 pm

I would love to see photos of the wood and the grain as you've cut it. I think local woods are a great idea. Kind of like, but not exactly, how La Patrie (though not high end) uses cherry, or laminated versions, on their classical and other acoustics...

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Michael.N.
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:22 pm

I tend to view it as going back to how renaissance lutes were made - largely local woods which is also true of the early violin and harpsichords.
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Ryeman
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Ryeman » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:54 pm

And the photo didn't show all the wood. There are a couple more logs not shown.
This next photo shows how clean and straight most of the wood had grown.

The final one shows the split butt being split into quarters. The tree's centre was offset, so the radial split is about 9 inches wide, perfect for sawing into guitar back sets.

Michael; I am planning to cut some of this elm up into back, sides and neck sets for a violin. Then if it dries out nicely I might make one. And I keep seeing in my mind a 19 ribbed lute with ribs of alternate Elm and Laburnum -a lovely contrast, I think. And I have some Laburnum that I harvested from a cottage carden only 2 miles away from where the elm grew.

Alan
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Michael.N.
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:38 pm

Is this the same as wych elm? In any case I'd love to see it all planed up and then with a finish on it. I often see little saplings of elms (if I'm identifying the leaves correctly) but apparently they never get to become mature trees due to dutch elm disease. Back in the 70's I can remember the local park having majestic mature elms but of course they all succumbed to the disease. This one must have been a bit of a survivor. What better way to show it respect than to make a musical instrument out of it (just don't say that to a cabinet maker!).
Historicalguitars.

printer2
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by printer2 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:11 pm

We have about 160,000 Elm trees in town. We loose about 5000 trees a year. I would like to get wood from some of the bigger trees but they disallow diverting the wood from landfill in an attempt to reduce further infestation.
Fred

amezcua
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by amezcua » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:25 am

Surprisingly the list of woods for making guitars shows even an innocent sounding wood like Elm is on a danger list . That`s danger from dust . The word "common "in the list refers to how common the bad effects have been . One of the safest woods where the word "rare" appears is good old fashioned Oak and oak is a nice sounding resonant wood . It`s certainly not a rare wood in the normal sense . The chart I saw mentions the word Sensitisation for several woods . A few dust types will attack the central nervous system and at least two will give you a Cardiac . Time to check your air cleaner systems . Sweeping brushes are now recognised as the most dangerous pieces of equipment in a workshop . Sensitisation can lead to itching and rashes on the back of hands and forearms , eyelids , face , back of neck and (wait for it ) genitals . Now wash your hands .

Ryeman
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Ryeman » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:03 am

Michael, not sure what the differences are between Wych Elm and English Elm. Wych Elm is slightly heavier I think. I know Wych Elm was used to make longbows. Very strong in compression. The oldest bow found in Europe, the Danish Holmegaard bow, was made of Elm, probably Wych Elm.
I am slightly worried that elm is rated as lacking dimensional stability, though I am hoping that radially cut boards will be stable enough...We will see.

Alan

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Michael.N.
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:20 pm

amezcua wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:25 am
Surprisingly the list of woods for making guitars shows even an innocent sounding wood like Elm is on a danger list . That`s danger from dust . The word "common "in the list refers to how common the bad effects have been . One of the safest woods where the word "rare" appears is good old fashioned Oak and oak is a nice sounding resonant wood . It`s certainly not a rare wood in the normal sense . The chart I saw mentions the word Sensitisation for several woods . A few dust types will attack the central nervous system and at least two will give you a Cardiac . Time to check your air cleaner systems . Sweeping brushes are now recognised as the most dangerous pieces of equipment in a workshop . Sensitisation can lead to itching and rashes on the back of hands and forearms , eyelids , face , back of neck and (wait for it ) genitals . Now wash your hands .
I guess we are right back to sanding vs planing and scraping. I gave up ebony because it was increasingly causing me irritation. It never bothered me for the 30 odd years previous. Fortunately bog Oak came to the rescue and I have absolutely zero problems with that or any other European hardwood for that matter (at least the ones that I've tried). Unfortunately good old oak is rare in terms of guitar woods. I also strongly suspect that maple is low on your chart, a wood that is much more commonly used for musical instruments. Poor old cherry rarely gets a look in although it can look very beautiful especially if a reddish colour and with figure. Don't know where walnut features on your chart but it doesn't seem to irritate me.
I'll wait for Alan to report on the elm before dipping my toes!
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Ryeman
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Re: English Elm. Guitar wood?

Post by Ryeman » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:25 pm

Well I have made a start. Cut the back and sides blanks out.
My new bandsaw did me proud.

Alan
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