I had an opportunity to visit the big island of Hawaii last summer. Hawaii is the only place in the world that Koa grows. The figure is just wonderful and it is very easy to work and finish. The density is similar to Mahogany but the wood is more "musical" (quite alive and resonates well). Koa can also be used as a guitar top. The harvesting of Koa trees is tightly controlled by the state so the supply of good guitar wood is somewhat limited and fairly expensive.

The Sawmill

The Hawaiian Hardwoods sawmill consists of a "Wood Mizer" bandsaw mill and several fork lifts/ loaders to move the logs around. Cutting a log is really an art. The wood must be studied carefully to maximize yield and exploit the face figure. The saw blade got stuck several times while I was there. Bandsaws will follow the figure of the wood if you try to cut too fast. The twist of the wood pinches the blade.

Wood Mizer portable band saw lumber mill Wood Mizer in action

The Wood

The first cut Koa wood figure after the first cut

The color and contrast of the figure in Koa is remarkable. The figure in 5A wood is almost too much for the eye to take in (and very hard on the wallet as well).

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