High Mountain Tonewood Company
Luthier Tonewood Supplies
Our process for selecting a tree and processing it is as follows:
Trees are located by driving logging roads, looking at forestry development and aerial maps and talking with longtime loggers.
A large number of trees are surveyed but very few applications for harvest are submitted to the Ministry of Forests. Some of the criteria that are used to assess a trees potential are the twist of the tree (usually, but not always, identifiable in the bark pattern), the diametre of the tree (usually the bigger the better) and how high do the first branches appear (in many cases there will still be branches buried inside what appears to be clear wood).
Once a tree meets these physical appearances a core sample is taken to determine if the grain count and spacing are acceptable. This process has eliminated a very large number of otherwise mouthwatering trees. Your heart races when measure the diamtre of a tree that is over 6 feet across the butt and straight and clear with the first branches at 60 feet up, then you core it and see a grain spacing of about 8 grains per inch. Some of these trees have led to good of a life!
Once a tree is located that meets the requirements for harvest a series of data are recorded and the trees location is plotted with the aid of Global Positioning Satellites (GPS).
Then a written request for harvest is submitted to the Forestry Department.
If the tree falls in an area that is permissible to harvest under the terms of our forest license then we (the Forestry Department and our company) conduct a joint site visit and discuss a harvest strategy and agree on terms.
Once written approval has been received arrangements are made to have the tree felled.
Once down the tree is bucked to lengths and billets are hand split right at the tree location. This is completed by using a froe to mark a split line and then wedges are inserted to split the billets into rectangular blocks. I keep all of the usable side billet wedges that result from splitting these rectangles and manufacture them into bracewood.
The billets are then hauled out of the bush, usually on foot but sometimes with small machines, and transported to our shop area.
Three faces are squared up with a sliding table on our 24 inch re-saw using a laser to ensure that run-out is addressed and a square to ensure that we cut as true to the quarter as possible.
A large fence is then installed on the re-saw and the sliding table is removed. Billets are then sliced into the tops.
The tops are then placed in a heated space and stickered with a fan blowing air across their faces. I can dry about 100 tops at a time with each fan. I have found that it takes about 7 days for the tops to become dry and stiff.
That is the process, labour intensive but with attention focused on extracting the very best quality possible from each tree harvested.
High Mountain Tonewood Company Terrace B.C.
Julian Bream, Bach & The Spanish Guitar/Sarabande