What woods are PC?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by darinwc, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    The rate at which I buy woods is extremely low, but I'd like to think I am not fueling the market for non-renewable resources.

    So what woods are OK to buy? I see alot of things marketed as 'rosewood' and other foreign exotic names but to me they look like mahogany and ebony.
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You are highly unlikely to find real cuban mahogany. It's been gone forever or at least post WWII. I think the mahogany you'll find is either Hondurian or Luan. Neither is at risk.

    If you want PC wood how about North American cherry?
     
  3. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Rosewood is in heavy demand for musical instrument manufacturing - it has rather different tonal qualities compared with mahogany. It can get horrifically expensive, as can nice pieces of ebony. If the wood comes from areputable dealer then you should be able to find out its place of origin. Finally, don't forget about your native woods - some of which are very good indeed - cherry as mentioned above, but also alder, maple, white oak, ash/ swamp ash, and birch - although I don't know how suitable any of these woods are for camera building :confused: (they can be used to make superb guitars though...)

    Hope this helps,

    Lachlan
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    As someone who has built a few guitars, I would say that most woods suitable for guitar building would be suitable for cameras as they have to stay stable in varying heat and humidity.


    Steve
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've been toying with the idea of making a camera from juniper. Not only is it ubiquitous around here, but it's also just about everlasting - and it smells good when you're working it. :smile:
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Bamboo is very PC for flooring. I saw a bamboo floor in a new National Park Service facility, and it looked pretty neat. Is it stable enough for cameras (probably in some laminated form)? It would certainly be very light weight, and it's an easily renewable resource.
     
  7. bliorg

    bliorg Member

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    There are (or at least have been) issues with cherry harvesting in the northeast. Large swaths of formerly bountiful cherry forests in Appalachia have been shut down (according to my two sawyers, anyway). Ain't gonna last forever - either the "Genuine" mahogany (which is sustainable, and not Cuban, FWIW) for it's ease in joinery, or cherry for its beauty would be my choices. Or some quartered walnut. Or Sapele. Or some bubinga.

    Too many choices. :D
     
  8. jamie young

    jamie young Member

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    Most wood is "PC" but some is much more that others.
    As far as tropical timbers go, there are a lot of new sustained yield programs happening, but the fact is, giving timber value through use is more important than removing it's value from boycotting.Then the wood will be cut down and burned to make way for farms. There is also tree salvage, liek a company that pulls up logs from the bottom of lake Superior. The Ho Chunk in Wisconsin, are doing a lot of sustained yield forestry as well. The northest us has a lot more forest land than it did in the 1940's.
    The issue is complex, but there are a lot of choices, and it's better to use most woods and give value to them, than not. Some species are in danger though, like Brazilian Rosewood, which has been way overcut for years, and cuban mahagony.
     
  9. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    Mesquite! Not just for grilling...

    My opinion would be to use a domestic exotic like Mesquite. Actually it's my only opinion. For a camera you should be able to fine lenghts and widths to fit your needs. It's not a wood known to be available in large slabs but that stuff is as stable as they come. I think you'd be building a real American original with it.

    I've done a lot of woodworking and most of the other suggestions would be appropriate. Just wanted to throw my favorite "unknown" into the mix.

    Good luck,

    Alan.
     
  10. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I have some really nice boards of spalded alder that came from a recent band-saw class i took. it is only a small amount but would make a nice 4x5 pinhole camera. On the lensboards I make for myself I use either plywood or cherry. But I started looking at exotic differnet woods on ebay and such.

    I remembered reading an article last year about a journalist who visited a wood processing plant in south america. The plant had armed guards at all the entrances. When he asked about some logs that looked like mahogany, which was protected in that area and illegal to harvest, he was told that it was not mahogany but some other type. (the name turned out to be made-up) Anyway all the weird names on ebay really freaked me out.

    I'm a woodworking newb, I guess i better educate myself. Where are some good places on the net to go?
     
  11. bliorg

    bliorg Member

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  12. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Ash. It's cheap, light, and strong. http://www.hardwoodstore.com/ They have lots of other stuff too. Tell Hil I sent you, he did a great job on the wood for my tripod! The lumber was ready for finish sanding when I received it.

    If you want Walnut you might see what Barry Young has in stock, search for his contact info (he is a member here).
     
  13. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Cuban Mahogany is the same species as Honduras Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Mahogany grows from southern Mexico through Columbia, Venezuela and the upper Amazon and it's tributaries in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. African mahogany is a different species (Khaya spp).

    Lauan is not even a close relative of true mahogany. It just has a similar colour. It grows in Asia, and another trade name is red and white Meranti. It is various species of Shorea. Nothing wrong with the wood, but I don't know how suitable it would be for cameras.

    Honduras mahogany is now grown in plantations, so it is unlikely to disappear. However, all tropical rainforest species are at some long term risk - mainly because of the conversion of forests to agriculture (often after non-sustainable logging or illegal logging), especially Asian forests.
     
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  15. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    A grass camera :D

    I would think it would have to be laminated in order to be stable enough for a camera. But it sure is tough stuff!
     
  16. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Rosewood is commonly some species of Dalbergia, and grows in the rainforests of South and Central America, and in India. It has the reputation of being more difficult to work than mahogany, but it is a beautiful wood.
     
  17. gminerich

    gminerich Guest

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    What woods are PC

    HI:

    Be careful with exotic woods. The sanding dust can be toxic. Native White and black ash are beautiful when finished. Native black walnut can't be beat for stability and grain when finished.
     
  18. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Don't forget plentiful Red and White Oak from Kentucky and Tennessee; you can find the solid flooring in about any flooring store and it isn't too expensive. Problem is, you have to re-saw and shape it...

    I have a 90' tall Cherry tree and 120' tall Black Walnut tree on my property that are bothering the 500 year old oaks (about 3 with a circumference of close to 20'), so they may have to become planks in a couple of years. Being this close to Kentucky, its not a problem to have someone come up with a portable saw, cut the planks and then transport them back to a kiln to dry. I hope between them, I can build a full set of built-in bookcases and have enough left over to build as many LF cameras as I could ever want.

    Too bad, there aren't any red dot artar trees around... Hear they grow further West, out in Nevada...

    On second thought, maybe you mine those...
     
  19. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    If you want to be sure that the wood you buy is from a sustainably managed forest, make sure it is, "certified". The certification is done by independent third parties, and it's a rigorous procedure to obtain the certification. If it is certified, they will advertise it as such. Buying only certified wood is probably the one thing consumers can do that might ensure proper management of tropical rainforests.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2007
  20. dphill

    dphill Member

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    What about Sitka Spruce?
    Strong.
    Lightweight.
    Too Soft maybe?

    Dan
     
  21. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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  22. dslater

    dslater Member

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    I'd say way too soft. It's easily dented by a fingernail.
     
  23. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    1)I think spalded is spelled 'spalted'. Unless you're British and spell spelled 'spelt'...I dunno.

    2) Maybe not at the top of the toxic list, but I thought walnut dust is still a hazard occupationally. Maybe not at hobby levels of usage. Before hearing this, I recall a particularly bad taste in my mouth doing wood turning in school in the 70's with walnut over any of the other woods I used.
     
  24. Terence

    Terence Member

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    .Look for anything certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

    As for Cuban mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni), although very closely related, it is not the same as Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Cuban mahogany has a warmer color and "works" better than the Honduran.

    Cuban mahogany IS still available from at least one sustainably-harvested spot in the South Pacific. See http://www.bluemoonexoticwood.com/index1.html

    Although I have heard rumblings about whether they are still actively importing it.
     
  25. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Don't let Willie Nelson use it. :smile:

    Lee
     
  26. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Odd, I'd never heard of Swietenia mahagoni until now. The reference book I mostly use (Tropical Timbers of the World) doesn't have it listed. Another reference says that Swietenia macrophylla is sometimes called Cuban mahogany, and it does grow in Cuba. A search on the net found it though, so Nick and Terence are right.