Australian Woods

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ausdag
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Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:21 pm

I've been experimenting with a few different Australian species for making pipes.
Here's a video of a comparison between Indian Ebony and three Australian timbers: Queensland Budgeroo; Boree (Acacia Tephrina); and Gidgee (Acacia Cambergei). It was posted a few weeks back over on the Chips n Dribble but here it is here too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKRU6fYkOMQ

Cheers,

DavidG
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
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Hans- Joerg
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by Hans- Joerg » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:47 am

I couldn´t tell differences. Which chanter performs best and which wood gives the smoothest surface when drilling (and the straightest bore)? Do you have to add oils/chemicals to improve the reamed surface?

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:04 am

Hi Hans - Joerg,
Although present, there appears to be only slight tonal difference between the four timbers, although the two acacias do give a slightly more 'woody' tone - note that I use the same reed in each chanter, so no differences in tone could be attributed to the reed. None of them could be considered 'dull'. None of them have been treated internally. Nor is there any rushing of the bore or taping of holes.

The budgeroo is less dense, but the grain structure is very fine and so the tone is still pleasing. As for boring, the acacias and the ebony produce similar bores and all four bore well with very minimal run-out, even with hand-held d-bits.

Cheers,

DavidG
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
http://ozuilleann.weebly.com/

outofthebox
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by outofthebox » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:07 am

On first listening I liked the sound of the second chanter best (budgeroo?). The overall tone was more pleasing to my ear than the others. But I think I still prefer the tone of that Australian box chanter that you made a while back. There was something special in the tone of that chanter - some kind of overtone - that was unusual enough to make it stand out.

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:17 pm

outofthebox wrote:On first listening I liked the sound of the second chanter best (budgeroo?). The overall tone was more pleasing to my ear than the others. But I think I still prefer the tone of that Australian box chanter that you made a while back. There was something special in the tone of that chanter - some kind of overtone - that was unusual enough to make it stand out.
Unfortunately we've never been able to definitively identify the timber used for that 'australian box' chanter. It looks like Australian brush box, but of a quality no longer apparently available. It was from a WWII era tent pole. The tonal qualities probably come from the overload of silica in the wood. It was murderous on the tools. I might make a few more up though just to see how they turn out.
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
http://ozuilleann.weebly.com/

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:56 am

Hans- Joerg wrote: Which chanter performs best and <snip>
I forgot to address this one.

All four chanters perform identically. None is easier to play than any other and as you can hear, the pitch of each is spot on relative to the drones - I have experienced in the past a noticeable change in pitch between timber species, same reed, but evidently not with these timbers.

I should also mention that at this point none of the tone holes have had any undercutting or rounding of the tone hole edges whatsoever. In other words, round holes played as is straight off the lathe so as to ensure consistency in comparison.
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
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Hans- Joerg
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by Hans- Joerg » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:21 am

David, I´m impressed! BTW, your video seems to be the only one that allows for a comparison at all: Same reed, same piper, same recording situation. Good job!

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:33 am

Thanks Hans-Joerg :D
You may be interested to know, a friend of mine who belongs to the International Wood Collectors Society, and is a professional percussionist very interested in tone woods for professional - grade xylophones and the like, told me that Australia has over 1000 (a thousand) species of timbers that have not yet been assessed for their tonal qualities!! Well, I've assessed three, so 997 plus to go :mrgreen:

Cheers,

DavidG
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http://ozuilleann.weebly.com/

outofthebox
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by outofthebox » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:12 am

Yes good work ausdag 8) - this is definitely a good experimental path to follow. Already your video has shown that there are many other possibilities. Instrument makers should be thinking in terms of moving away from endangered species hardwoods. Even better if they can find local resources to work with.

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:09 am

outofthebox wrote:Yes good work ausdag 8) - this is definitely a good experimental path to follow. Already your video has shown that there are many other possibilities. Instrument makers should be thinking in terms of moving away from endangered species hardwoods. Even better if they can find local resources to work with.
Thanks OOTB. Yes, there is much potential in other species here. Although at the moment it is still far easier to source supplies of traditional woods such as ebony and blackwood. But fortunately there is a growing band of woodwind makers here who are helping the local wood-people realise that our trees have potential far beyond their current use as fence posts holding up barbed wire to keep kangaroos and wascally wabbits out of sheep country.
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
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chris bayley
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by chris bayley » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:54 am

Have used Ironwwood (organic steel !!!), Mulga (Acacia aneura) and Canthium (native Currant) for UP's and Pastorals

Supplies of these and other Oz woods are unpredictable but am always on the look out for new and interesting timbers when visiting timber yards

The wood list here has something rather alarming to say about Mulga http://www.wood-database.com/wood-artic ... -toxicity/

I know orchestral woodwinds and flutes have made from Mulga so I wonder if the toxicity is the sap when fresh cut - any ideas David or has the compiler of the data made a mistake as other sources miss out this point
e.g. Major use has been as fence posts in Goldfields pastoral areas and in farming areas on the south coast of WA. The species is important for fence posts. The wood turns well and takes a high polish. Traditional uses included spears, clubs and boomerangs. Settlers used it for fencing because of its very high durability, and it is still used today. Other current use is for small ornamental articles for the tourist industry. The tree is important for fodder over a wide area of Australia.
Chris
New Website now live at http://www.uilleann-pipes.co.uk. It is still under construction with more to be added
My original website http://www.bagpipeworld.co.uk remains in place as historical

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:56 pm

Hi Chris,
I think your wood database guy is not really accurate concerning Mulga's toxicity. This website -

http://www.worldwidewattle.com/infogall ... iginal.php

gives quite an extensive coverage of traditional aboriginal usage of Acacia varieties including Mulga. If you scroll down to 'Other traditional uses' it states that aboriginals favoured mulga for spears and such, not because of any level of toxicity, but because the wood was less prone to splitting.

It does mention the practice of using leaves and bark to poison water holes for fishing, but Mulga is not listed among the acacias used for this purpose.

I've asked a few other more knowledgeable people about Mulga and none of them had ever heard that it is toxic to the extent of requiring such a dire warning as is given in the wood database. I'll ask around a bit more and if I come up with anything I'll let you know.

Cheers,

DavidG
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LiamO'Flynn
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by LiamO'Flynn » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:09 am

How did you find working with the different woods. It would be an interesting project if you could detail the properties of each wood as a frame of reference and comparision. Things like specific gravity, oil content,presence of knots and grain formation and workability . Some woods may contain other things like silica which would effect things.

Liam
Liam O'Flynn the plumber not the piper .

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ausdag
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Re: Australian Woods

Post by ausdag » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:39 am

LiamO'Flynn wrote:How did you find working with the different woods. It would be an interesting project if you could detail the properties of each wood as a frame of reference and comparision. Things like specific gravity, oil content,presence of knots and grain formation and workability . Some woods may contain other things like silica which would effect things.

Liam
I find the acacias and the budgeroo much nicer to work with than ebony - more forgiving - but apart from density, I haven't bothered about any of the other elements you mention as I prefer to judge by the 'proof of the pudding' so to speak, and the interesting thing is that even though budgeroo comes in at a dry density of about 600 - 700, as compared to ebony and the acacias at about 1200 (kg/m3), there is very little noticeable difference in tone between them. Where one would expect the softer budgeroo to give a more mellow tone, it is instead, the very hard acacias, particularly the gidgee which have a slightly mellower, woody tone.
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
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