French Pearwood?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Changeling1, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    Any comments regarding the use of French Pearwood in the making of LF cameras? Zone VI, under Fred Picker, actually built some of their cameras with this wood as well as Black Walnut. I have no idea how much the use of these exotic woods increased the price of camera, nor have I been able to actually locate a Zone VI (or any other brand) made of Fr. Pearwood. Any information would be appreciated.
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    probably one of the most knowledgeable people about different woods used in view cameras is Richard Ritter, as he does alot of repairs on wood cameras in addition to working with Fred Picker for a number of years.

    Dave
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    He built the whole camera out of pear? Or did he use it for just a few small items?

    Orchard fruit trees don't get that big. The wood is often just branches cut during normal pruning. Fine for making a knife handle or something. I could see maybe somebody supply pear veener but whole boards?

    Walnut isn't exotic. It's not cheap but it's a domestic.
     
  4. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Pearwood is extremely dimensionally stable once it is dry and is quite strong. French Pear is one of the names for European Pear (a name common in the U.S.) ,pearwood (a common name in the U.K.) or Common Pear. They are all from the same genus and species therefore all the same.

    As Nick has pointed out, most orchard trees do not get that big. The lumber yield from branches and trunks of orchard wood is usually very low because of distortion during drying. The wood should be kiln dried and then machined several times before reaching final dimension. There should be a rather liberal time given between machinings to allow the natural stresses in the wood to warp the hell out of your nice flat lumber. Then it can be machined and warp again. So what you are left with when you finally get it straight is very little. This in addition to the small branches you start with makes the yield very very low and therefore the price is quite high.

    According to "the Real Wood Bible" (best book I have ever seen on wood) Pear is medium hard and rather heavy at 44 lb. per cubic foot which is more dense than Black Walnut but less dense than Red Oak. I suspect it is stronger than either and it is more stable dimensionally than Walnut or Oak.

    So I guess if you can afford it, it would be an excellent wood to make cameras from. It certainly would have some snob appeal.

    Barry Young
     
  5. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Hi all,
    I have been making fancy pool cues as a profession for 31 years. Good old straight grain maple can not be beaten...Evan Clarke
     
  6. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Your cues are simply stunning Evan.
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Won't the pear branches all be reaction wood?

    I think one of the local places stocks [or used] pear veener and small pieces. IIRC it was pretty expensive for what it was.
     
  8. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    I agree with Evan on the Maple, I do remember years ago I used to get a Newsletter from Zone VI and there was a special price for the pearwood cameras...It was lower! don't remember if it was a close out or if they did a run of experimental cameras etc.....Ritter would probably know.
     
  9. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Thanks Barry, I thought I might be incognito here 8))..

    They use a grade of straight-grained maple called "piano action" to mount the frame and action of the piano on. It is stable and light..Evan Clarke
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Member

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    I've heard maple is hard on cutting tools...have you experienced this?
     
  11. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Hi,
    No, maybe only compared to pine or fir but not any of the other hardwoods, expecially cherry or the like. Sharp tools fare best!!..Evan Clarke
     
  12. Richard T Ritter

    Richard T Ritter Member

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    Zone VI made 5 pear wood cameras as a test run for a special addition camera. Pear wood at the time was $25 a board foot. When we decided to do a run of more camera the wood could not be found and the wood that was available was in the $50 range. Pear wood is a very stable wood. It has fine grain and is very stable it has been use to make ship sextants. I have a piece from the first run it is 8/4 and 20 inches wide.
     
  13. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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  14. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    Thanks everyone. Very interesting information. No wonder I haven't come across a Pearwood Zone VI camera with only 5 being built!
     
  15. WKF20500

    WKF20500 Member

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    When I bought my Zone VI a few years ago the man that sold it to me told me it was one of the pear wood models. How can I find out for sure? The color of the wood is like no other Zone VI I've ever seen - it's much lighter in color that the cherry and mahogany cameras I've seen. It's been nearly impossible to find matching lens boards.

    Wes
     
  16. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I've always used stinkwood for my cameras. It is light, strong, cheap and durable. Finishes well, has no pores and no bark inclusions so noseoil is the best finish. tim

    But seriously folks: Try this guy for some nice hardwoods. He has a selection of old growth hardwood from the midwest. A friend of many years and is honest as the day is long. Tell him what you need and be specific about dimension. Give it a try and please, don't ask for "French Pearwood" or you may just get stinkwood from "Pecker-wood International" themaingov@yahoo.com
     
  17. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    Mesquite...America's finest "exotic"

    When Barry Young finally comes out with a set of ULF plans I'll be making mine out of Mesquite. I've worked a little bit with this stuff and it's amazing. Super stable, very dense and totally beautiful. It's a bit difficult to get in larger widths but I think it would be perfect for camera parts. My other choice would be some type of rosewood from South America.
     
  18. magic823

    magic823 Member

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    A good site for seeing the qualities of wood compared to each other is http://www.woodworkerssource.net/index.php

    You'll get a grin out of purpleheart compared to others.

    I'm building my wife's new 8x10 out of willow. Mine's out of walnut. I thought about teak or zebrawood, but since its my first run at building a camera I went with a cheaper wood.

    Steve
     
  19. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    WKF20500- I would love to see some pix of your Pearwood Zone VI! Was the brass gold-plated by any chance? Does your camera have a serial number? Fred Picker talks about the Pearwood Camera in one of his '92 videos going so far as to shoot a portrait of his #1 camera-maker with a big piece of it as part of the lesson.
     
  20. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    FWIW, pearwood has always been a popular choice for carving and instrument making in Europe. Quite a lot of medieval polychome alterpiece figures are pearwood, and the renaissance craze for bas relief wood portraits produced some stunning pieces. A lot of viol necks and pegboards are pear too. It's obviously stable once it's settled down.
     
  21. WKF20500

    WKF20500 Member

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    Here a a few pictures of my Zone VI. Serial number is 4337. If you have any idea of how I can check the history of the camera, or verify what wood it's made of I'd appreciate it.

    Thanks,

    Wes
     

    Attached Files:

  22. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    That certainly looks like pearwood to me and it is absolutely beautiful. I also am certain that the hardware has been plated. That is not the color of raw brass, even when it is freshly machined. It has much more brilliance than non-plated brass even if it is lacquered. Man, if cameras were jewelry that one would be made by tiffany. Truly a wonderful expression of the camera makers art.
     
  23. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    From the 1991-1992 Zone VI catalog:

    "We found six planks of Swiss pear from old fruit trees in Swiss orchards. It is truly exquisite; a hard smooth pale tan wood exhibiting a slight pinkish cast in some lights. Cameras made from these woods are limited in number, so please inquire as to price and delivery if you would like something very special."

    From View Camera magazine,Jan-Feb 2003, article by Richard T. Ritter

    "1991 came with the shocking news that Zone VI was sold to Calumet Photographic. It was also the year that we introduced gold-plated hardware. We made about 1800 of these cameras and their serial numbers are in the 3,000 and 4,000 range. The concept of goldplated hardware started with the idea of doing a special run of cameras in honor of the 20th anniversary of Zone VI."

    Hope this helps.
    Jim
     
  24. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    Wes,

    Thanks for the Pearwood pix. Beautiful camera! The chances of another 4x5 view camera being built out of pearwood with gold plated brass hardware is about a zillion to one. If you decide to sell it, I hope you give your fellow APUGers first crack at it!

    Jim-
    Thanks for the magazine quotes. Someone should write a book!
     
  25. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    A beautiful camera Wes, almost seems a shame to take it out and use it! Also many good links and information to hardwood dealers. Thanks!

    Regards,
    John