Macassar Ebony Processing

'Mindful attentiveness', at the very least, is required for the proper processing of Macassar Ebony lumber.

In Indonesia, the heart-free flitches (cants) are waxed on all 6 faces, and then each cant is individually wrapped in plastic to protect and stabilize the wood on its long journey to our facility in the U.S.

Because extremely hard Macassar Ebony has a very low green moisture content, cants can successfully be air-tightly-wrapped for any number of years without concern for heart-rot. 

Spectrum Hardwoods generally maintains the cants fully wrapped in plastic for 3-8 years before processing.  When we finally cut the cants into dimension lumber, we keep all boards from the same respective cant together so that all mirror-matches are retained for use in any final products, from custom furniture to guitars.

This  extremely patient processing replicates processing of Macassar Ebony trees from days of yore.  50 to 100 years ago the preferred method of aging and stabilizing Macassar Ebony was to 'girdle' the circumference of the base of the Macassar Ebony tree, leave the tree standing to begin drying naturally for 2 years before harvesting the tree, and then finally consolidating it in a given location.

In the upper left-hand corner of this page you will see the image of Bubba the Ebony Tagger.  After carefully inspecting both ends of each cant, he color-codes at least one end from each cant with a 'V' of differing colors, so that all boards from that respective cant can be stickered and kept together during and after slow drying.  The 'V' is painted by Bubba to indicate the re-sawing orientation to yield the maximum quarter-sawn faces.

We prefer very slow air-drying-only here in the crisp air of the high desert.  The U.S. Forest Products Lab data indicate that wood, hard or soft, air-dried-only versus kiln-dried, results in wood after drying that has 40% greater Modulus of Rupture (harder) and 15% greater Modulus of Elasticity  (the capacity of wood to expand and contract without cracking).  This latter quality is critically important in the stability of all finished wooden products.

Thus, with our Macassar Ebony, the wood is aged at least 7 years between time of harvest and time that lumber is slowly air-dried-only and ready for market.  We "hasten slowly", in the words of Caesar Augustus.

The photos on this page illustrate custom-cutting with a precision mill, our workers washing thoroughly each board fresh off the saw, stickering the matched boards from each respective cant, then carefully stacking in our warehouse to slowly air-dry-only for at least 4 years.

A laborious and time-consuming method for Spectrum Hardwoods to correctly bring Macassar Ebony lumber to market.

'Old School' Macassar Ebony from Spectrum Hardwoods.

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Kurt's Phone:
760-703-6460

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