Friday, January 15, 2010

Big Leaf Maple, Hawthorn, and other Wood Surprises

Two wood stories whose common thread is merely time:

Some 20 years ago I cut down a tree in our front yard. It was a pest. Hawthorn, I believe, with spiky limbs (though junior varsity compared to locusts) and tiny leaves that make a mockery of raking. Son Joel and I had planted a ponderosa pine nearby, and we didn't want it to have to compete with its vexatious neighbor. I bucked a couple of 12 inch sections from the butt and painted the ends with oil based paint to insure slow drying, and squirreled them away. This December they landed in my mental lap: gifts for the kids who would remember, vaguely, the tree. I tried to turn bowls. Not successful. I ended up making Christmas tree ornaments, shown in the image.

But look closer at this amazing section: The pith--which we expect to be in the center of a tree--is right at the edge!

The annular rings are not rings, they are Cs, and they radiate from the pith and then form "thumbs" as on a mitten, and the bark turns inward and folds onto itself.
It's a mys-tree for sure.

Part Two: a trip to the hardwood yard. I can pretty much stay on a budget in a shopping situation with this exception. I was trolling through a unit of big leaf maple, cut in Oregon, and turned up these three boards. All different, all loading themselves in my truck before I knew what was happening. They will indeed show up on Barker Basses in the future. I'm not sure what model, I'm less sure when, but all three captured my eye and my heart. Budget, begone! Art reigns!

Note: those who sell me wood--Dan and Tom--know me and smile benignly when I succumb this way. I sign the ticket, eyes glazed enough they often need to point to the line. I never leave empty handed, and at the end of the month, their hands aren't empty either. If you can't sell me wood, you would do well to sell me naphtha: That's the strange solvent which, when spread on wood, makes it appear as it would under clear finish. It evaporates readily and leaves the wood unchanged. I buy it by the gallon.

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