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Old 9th January 2013, 10:49 PM   #1
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Cool Hardwood enthusiast in an MDF world

Greetings DIY Audio.

I'm more of a lumberjack than expert audiophile. I approach the hobby from a [very] amateur carpenter's point of view. For me, building loudspeakers is just another case of cabinetry.

What makes my projects unique is surely my approach to acquiring raw materials. There are a lot of things I don't enjoy about living in the Midwest, but one of the perks is unprecedented access to standing dead hardwood. Maple, Oak, Ash, Walnut, Black Cherry; all of the big names and all available as spectacularly large specimens.

The trouble, of course, is getting the big dead tree whittled down into some kind of regularly sized material. It can get expensive and discouraging when you are faced with a whopper like this:

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Such a situation generally calls for heavy equipment and a saw mill. However, with the right tools, plenty of gumption and at least a bit of foolhardiness it is possible to manage a DIY solution. It is simply a matter of having a big enough chainsaw:

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And then knowing what to do with it:

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With some practice, it is possible to produce hardwood lumber of excellent quality with only a few hundred dollar's worth of tools:

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Perhaps the best thing about this approach is that you can use classic techniques that have long since been abandoned by the industry. Quarter-sawing is a prime example of this. It tends to waste more stubby off-cut material out of a given log and so has fallen out of favor. However on certain breeds of wood, Oaks especially, the resulting beauty is more than worth the lost material:

Click the image to open in full size.


When you are a hobbyist lumberjack of this capacity, thousands upon thousands of board-feet will pass beneath your fingers. This gives you the best chance of coming across a few pieces that are truly irregular; truly special. These are the bits that don't get sold. They get stacked up in the personal stash to await an appropriate project.

Over the years a few such projects were stereos. The quarter-sawed Red Oak above eventually became a small coffee table come big subwoofer:

Click the image to open in full size.

It was a 12" driver job with a passive radiator and was part of a beefy 2.1 system. The satellites had the same red oak and black face look. I'll have to scrounge up photos of them.


I haven't been on an audio forum with my projects before because, to me, the only thing interesting about them has been the carpentry. As far as the stereo bits they have been of good quality, but unremarkable design and execution. Simple pre-constructed passive crossovers matched to solid and well-matched, off-the-shelf components. Only mild computer-assisted design through the use of WinISD.

However my most recent project has been different. It is based on some truly bizarre 'purple-streaked' Ash that I've had for ages. The stereo itself is a simple, 2-speakers bookshelf Hi-Fi system with grand packaging ambitions. It employs a fully active crossover system powered by MiniISD, a miniature medical-grade power supply and super-efficient Tripath-based digital amplification.

Ending on that note, I was hoping to post this new project as a blog. I've been looking at the (very well-done) entries of other members but have been unable to figure out how to make new entries of my own. Anyone care to chime in on my noob issues?

Last edited by StrangeLiform; 10th January 2013 at 01:17 AM.
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Old 10th January 2013, 04:16 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome. You are welcome to start a new 'build' thread if you wish, it doesn't have to be a blog. I know the blog area doesn't get the same traffic as the forums do so...

Anyway, I like you work. I have a friend with a similar portable type sawmill and all the planers and such that are needed to bring out the best in the wood. Good to see that some are still interested in doing it rather than heading to the lumberyard.
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Old 10th January 2013, 09:16 PM   #3
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Ahh, awesome. I should have just asked where the best place for a "build thread" would be. Obviously I need to do some more lurking.

There are still a few of us amateur lumberjacks around. Its amazing what is possible with a simple "Alaskan" style, chainsaw-based portable saw mill.

I still hit my local lumberyard every now and again. We have a pretty strong rule about only cutting up trees that are "standing dead". I would not kill a perfectly good, living tree just for some lumber. I'll take farmed hardwood rather than do that. However if you keep your eyes open there is a lot of dead stuff just waiting around to be salvaged.

Thanks for the compliment. I'm fairly proud of my projects. Looking forward to sharing lots more in the future.
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Old 10th January 2013, 09:24 PM   #4
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Very impressive I must say! I myself have some experience with chainsaws and cutting down big trees but I haven't made planks of them, only firewood. By the way, that's a damn big chainsaw!

As I might have said before, it's always interesting watching a professional do his job that an ordinary person would have no chance at all doing.
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Old 10th January 2013, 09:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeLiform View Post
lumberjacks
Ahem...Craftsman.
Quote:
I still hit my local lumberyard every now and again.
Of course you do.
Quote:
We have a pretty strong rule about only cutting up trees that are "standing dead". I would not kill a perfectly good, living tree just for some lumber.
Not to mention the storage while drying. Standing dead is perfect.
Quote:
Thanks for the compliment.
It's nice to see you doing it.
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Old 10th January 2013, 10:28 PM   #6
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Very nice Zach. Good to see more exploring what can be done with solid wood. Do post more of your builds.

I am fortunate to have a couple locals that are skilled enuff to do solid wood builds... you can see some of them in the miniOnken gallery.

I am fortunate to have a buddy with a giant version of your diy mill. Urban Milling (more pictures there)

I got the opportunity to be helper labour when he did a 400 year old garry oak, milled right where it blew down. I've helped him with a number of trees on the same order of size (including a couple cedars on our property that had to come down because they were killed by lightning strike)

Click the image to open in full size.

The chain saw attachment has something like a 6' blade.

Click the image to open in full size.

dave
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Old 10th January 2013, 11:26 PM   #7
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Dave, pics of Garry Oak please. They are one of the 'coolest' trees while living but I don't think I've seen one cut. Is that one in the pic? I know all too well that isn't you there.
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Old 10th January 2013, 11:30 PM   #8
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I just googled garry oak and it doesn't look like the ones in the park in Nanaimo. those ones are really windswept and look a lot different. I may be thinking of Piper's Lagoon. Kind of a poor man's Arbutus.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32505738@N04/7271894128/
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Old 10th January 2013, 11:46 PM   #9
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Dave, pics of Garry Oak please. They are one of the 'coolest' trees while living but I don't think I've seen one cut. Is that one in the pic? I know all too well that isn't you there.
That is the other dave (aka Mr Miller). Since i was taking the pictures (there are more on the web site) i'm not in any of the pics. I took away a bunch of scaps (that would normally see the fireplace... a few phase plugs have been made, the base on these the toobs Mk 1 and i loaded Bernie up and he is building a set of µFonkenSET for Scott (moose). It is lovely stuff and a bitch to work.

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Old 10th January 2013, 11:51 PM   #10
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I just googled garry oak and it doesn't look like the ones in the park in Nanaimo. those ones are really windswept and look a lot different. I may be thinking of Piper's Lagoon. Kind of a poor man's Arbutus.
Your Nanaimo ones look heavily wind scupted. The rest of the row of Garry Oaks at the same place we milled the fall were tall, tall.

This is more typical

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

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