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All Koa - decisions, decisions.
Author
Post
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 167
Received my birthday present the other day!





There is a lot of 'character' in this set. It was priced for a learner guitar so I couldn't resist. Now I'm scratching my head wondering which should be the top... the first image is the 'top' as the second matches the sides closer, but I'm really tempted to keep a majority of that sapwood and showcase it on the back, without the soundhole and bridge interrupting sections of it. Way i see it i have 3 choices:

1. use matched back and sides, keep the sapwood on the top

2. use matched back and sides, trim out the sapwood on the top.

3. use 'back' for top, show off the sapwood 'top' on the back

I guess a forth option is to use the 'top' on the back but trim off the sapwood, but that really doesn't appeal to me. Now I'm not saying this is going to be a democratic process but what do you think?

Also if you have any advice on working with Koa, bring it on!

Feb 26, 10 | 7:49 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
I like the 2nd picture as the top. The inverted "V" from the sapwood would end just below the bridge, as pointing it out.
The 1st picture has nicely figured wood that would look good on a back.
What is the issue with the circle at the upper right side of the lower bout? Would that preclude its use as a top?
Pretty wood.
Bob

Feb 26, 10 | 8:28 am
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
Thanks Bob,

There are a few small knots circled here and there - the reason for the discount. The one circled in the right side of the lower bout is actually a knot that is on the other side (would be the inside) of the plate, but doesn't go all the way through.

Darren

Feb 26, 10 | 8:47 am
Herman

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 480
Fist impression would be the sapwoodset as a typical back. But on the other hand: It would be a really unique guitar with a sapwood-koa top. Not many of them out there. Niceaaa wood, Darren.

Feb 26, 10 | 8:55 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
If you use the option of trimming the sapwood away, wouldn't it bring the knots into play? If so, you may not want that.

Feb 26, 10 | 9:13 am
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
Adaboy,
The outline traced on the sapwood top misses both the knots and the sapwood, so I do have room for that option.

Herman, there was a picture of a koa uke posted here the other week that had a sapwood top. Would definitely be unique... I just don't know how the bridge will look on it. Time to flex my photoshop skills!

Feb 26, 10 | 9:54 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
That back is georgous (the first pic). Now you which I would choose for the back. On the top, I would cut out the sapwod, both for looks, and for stiffness/strength. The sapwood is softer and may affect the tone? (just guessing here). Or, get a Sitka top for it.
That will make a pretty guitar.

Kevin

Feb 26, 10 | 10:28 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
I was just thinking about the effect of sapwood on the top too when I saw Kevin's post.

Feb 26, 10 | 11:09 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
This will be fun to watch. I'm working on an all koa project right now too.

Feb 26, 10 | 1:29 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
thanks for all the input - on to the shooting board.

Freeman - what thickness did you (or are you going to) end up for the top plate? I can find lots of data on spruce/cedar, even redwood tops, but no figures for koa. I understand it's a 'stop when you're there' dimension but a target number would be good to start from. Anyone?

I think the sapwood is going on the back.

Feb 28, 10 | 5:19 am
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
Well I just returned from a 2 week vacation in Hawaii. While I was on the Big Island, I ordered enough raw Koa for 5 - 6 guitars depending on how the resawing goes. It should be here soon, then I have to do the resawing and wicker to dry. Not sure when these guitars will be started, as I'm not sure how long it wil take to dry.

I'll try and post some pictures once I get cut up.

Lance.

Feb 28, 10 | 5:42 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Good deal. I haven't worked on Koa yet, and would love to try some. I have some more of the Curly Mango and just love the stuff, but I would also really like to try some Australian Blackwood....very similar to Koa.

Mar 01, 10 | 10:11 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I would use the piece in the second pic as the back and leave as much sapwood as possible. I love the look of the sapwood in the center.
I would cut away the sapwood from the top plate. Then I would build a really beautiful guitar out of it and send it to that handsome guy, Tony_in_NYC. He is the bees knees as the kids say.

Mar 02, 10 | 6:15 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I meant the piece in the first pic as the back.
Thats really nice wood. Say thanks to those knots for causing the discount!!

Mar 02, 10 | 6:18 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Dviss, my top plate thickness for this build is not relevant to what you are doing - mine will be a resonator and I'm making the top very thick (0.125). The thing that pains the heck out of me is that I will be cutting a great big hole out of the middle of mine for the sound well - but I'm going to try to save that piece to be the headstock veneer - hopefully that way the bookmatch will work.

I ran the back to 0.100 and braced it for 15 ft radius - and the sides at 0.080 bent very nicely. Koa is supposed to have a top wood sound much like mahogany, I would think it could be a little thinner than a softer spruce or cedar top. Maybe start with 0.100 and do a lot of flexing and tapping. If you could find a koa Taylor in a guitar shop stick your calipers inside the soundhole and measure the plate thickness (I actually did that when I was building my first 12 string and didn't know what thickness I wanted).

I'll just add my 0.02 - I'm used to seeing sapwood on the backs, but not tops. It looks like you have layed it out to try to minimize the sapwood at the seam - are you locked into what looks like an OM? (Would an 00 or even a lovely little parlor be a better choice?). I don't know if you wet the wood before photographing it but I would also be inclined to use the lighter pieces in the second photo for the top. They both seem to have a lot of flame - I would try to maximize the figure in the top if you can. Remember that the fretboard will cover some of the seam so take that into consideration.

What ever you do, keep us posted!

Mar 03, 10 | 7:19 am
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
Well the plates are both joined - the sapwood piece presented a challenge because there is a lot of curl (not sure how to describe it as the grain is going in every direction?), even into the sapwood, that made getting a good joint difficult. When on the shooting board the plane would chip out small sections. But I eventually got a good joint.

I thought that shooting for a mahogany top thickness would be a good idea and will probably start at 2.5mm or .1 as Freeman suggested.

The outline is marked to show that the OM shape could possibly exclude both the sapwood and the outer knots. I am including most of the sapwood so that outline doesn't really apply to my build. It will be an OM, though.

Both top and back have much more 'flame' after even a light sanding, this should make a beautiful guitar if I don't screw it up!

Freeman, good to hear it bent nicely. I'll be trying it soon.

Mar 03, 10 | 12:55 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
man i am a horrible photographer! But I sure like this :)

Mar 03, 10 | 5:08 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Thats looking like the start of a very nice guitar!

Mar 03, 10 | 5:41 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Using a bladed tool with any real figured wood can be dicy.....better off sanding if you can.

Mar 03, 10 | 5:43 pm



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