Finding Wood for Musical Instruments (& more)

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“Where do you get your wood?”

That’s a question that I’m often asked, as someone examines a flute I’ve made or emails about a kantele on my blog.

The answer is – almost everywhere.

A regular source of wood is a combination of stores that sell wood, like Woodcraft or Home Depot. The long planks of poplar at Home Depot can become lovely toned Native American style flutes. I examine each board to get a beautiful color and grain.

wood on display at AAW
Woodturning conventions include trade shows with large arrays of wood to chose from, like this display at an American Association of Woodturners convention.

The trade floor of the American Association of Woodturners convention provides a tempting selection of wood.  As well, my local woodturning group always has a surprise number of Florida woods for auction or trade at our monthly meetings.

If I need a special wood – like Cherry, Ambrosia Maple or Sapele – that is kiln-dried, I will go to Woodcraft. The store I most often visit has a long hallway with hundreds of board feet of different woods.

A nearby Cypress store provides a large lot filled with Cypress of all shapes and sizes – huge slabs that could be made into a bar top or smaller slices of Cypress that I use to make the base of flute stands.

Another source of wood is the discovery process.

Friends will contact me about potential wood. I have a friend who is a runner.  She will contact me if she sees someone has cut down a tree while she is out on her running route. A friend from the woodturning club called about a Pecan tree that had fallen during a storm. The owner of a local business let me know that he was cutting Spalted Hackberry trees and wanted to know if I could use the wood. Sometimes I’m out biking and come across a tree that’s been cut.  In such cases I have to return to the site with my car and its empty trunk.

I’ve made some great branch flutes (including the Dogwood branch flute in the photo slideshow), bowls, wooden beads and Christmas ornaments from trees that have been cut down.