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Lignum vitae as a flutewood?
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Author:  Steve Bliven [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Anyone have experience with Lignum vitae as a flutewood? Weight, stability, susceptibility to cracking? Other issues?

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

Author:  an seanduine [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Mr. Gumby would know, but is seems to me, Eugene Lambe experimented a bit with Lignum Vitae, but with poor results. . .cracking.

Bob

Author:  Jon C. [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Steve Bliven wrote:
Anyone have experience with Lignum vitae as a flutewood? Weight, stability, susceptibility to cracking? Other issues?

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

Yes, cracking... Similar to snake wood...

Author:  Loren [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Yup, it’s gonna crack, don’t do it.

Author:  paddler [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

I have a quena made from guayacan, which I believe is another name for lignum vitae.
It has held up well, plays well, and smells nice. Lignum vitae has a nice perfume-like
fragrance. I have another quena made from vera wood, which I believe is closely related
to, and often used as a substitute for, lignum vitae. Visually, the wood in the two instruments
look very similar, a kind of greenish olive brown color with a nice surface finish. Both are
very dense. In fact, lignum vitae is widely reported to be the densest wood in the world.

I don't have experience making a flute from it, in part because I heard others report
problems with cracking, and in part because it is a CITES listed threatened species.
I'm not sure whether the cracking problems are inherent, or if it requires special attention
in seasoning and treatment. Maybe I've just been lucky with my quenas.

Author:  Steve Bliven [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Thanks for input. I really should have phrased my question as, Anything new since the last time (in 2006) this question was discussed? viewtopic.php?p=469721

Seems there's enough concern to suggest avoidance.

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

Author:  Geoffrey Ellis [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

I've made quite a few flutes from Vera wood over the years, but I have not (so far) heard that any of them cracked. I got some stock many years ago and it lasted quite awhile but I never sought more of it, especially after the CITIES regulations took effect. But I don't care for using it much as a flute wood for a variety of reasons. It has lots of great qualities, but it is really difficult to sand it properly! The stock I had was so oily that it clogged sandpaper instantly--very frustrating.

I had never heard about it's propensity to crack so I'm hoping there are not some poor flute owners out there who have an unpleasant surprise coming....

Author:  Casey Burns [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

I made one out of this wood years ago. Great player until it warped horribly. Was hard to warm up however.

Eugene Lambe once told me that if it gets hot while turning, the resulting fumes can make you hight - by killing brain cells.

Casey

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
I've made quite a few flutes from Vera wood over the years, but I have not (so far) heard that any of them cracked. I got some stock many years ago and it lasted quite awhile but I never sought more of it, especially after the CITIES regulations took effect. But I don't care for using it much as a flute wood for a variety of reasons. It has lots of great qualities, but it is really difficult to sand it properly! The stock I had was so oily that it clogged sandpaper instantly--very frustrating.

I had never heard about it's propensity to crack so I'm hoping there are not some poor flute owners out there who have an unpleasant surprise coming....



Wiki:

Quote:
Various other hardwoods may also be called lignum vitae and should not be confused with it. The best-known come from Bulnesia arborea and Bulnesia sarmientoi (in the same subfamily as Guaiacum) and are known as verawood or Argentine lignum vitae; they are somewhat similar in appearance and working qualities as genuine lignum vitae.

Author:  Geoffrey Ellis [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Mr.Gumby wrote:
[Various other hardwoods may also be called lignum vitae and should not be confused with it. The best-known come from Bulnesia arborea and Bulnesia sarmientoi (in the same subfamily as Guaiacum) and are known as verawood or Argentine lignum vitae; they are somewhat similar in appearance and working qualities as genuine lignum vitae.


That's funny--in the course of reading the thread I forgot that the OP was about lignum vitae! Oh dear. The brain can no longer be trusted...

I've made a few flutes from true lignum vitae as well, one of them being a bansuri! Very thin walls. Maybe I should be worried about that one.

Author:  Loren [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Geoffrey Ellis wrote:

I've made a few flutes from true lignum vitae as well, one of them being a bansuri! Very thin walls. Maybe I should be worried about that one.


Only need to worry if it gets played.

Author:  paddler [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Loren wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:

I've made a few flutes from true lignum vitae as well, one of them being a bansuri! Very thin walls. Maybe I should be worried about that one.


Only need to worry if it gets played.


Why do you say this Loren?

A lot of flutes crack because they are left unplayed for long periods of time and dry out. Others crack because they have metal
lining. Others are brittle and crack when dropped. Some flute woods move a lot with humidity changes and crack when used in
combination with materials that do not move a lot, but may be very resilient to being heated and cooled, and hence can be great
for stabilization using heat-curing resins. Other woods that are very hard and dense crack when heated making them almost
impossible to stabilize with heat-curing resins. So, I'm curious whether you have some more specific knowledge about the cause
of cracking in lignum vitae, or are you just implying that Geoffrey's flutes don't get played?

I've played my quena flutes quite a bit and they have not cracked. I'm not certain that they are genuine lignum vitae though, and
since they both look so similar they might both be vera wood.

Author:  Loren [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

My comment has absolutely nothing to do with Geoffrey or his flutes in particular, there’s zero axe grinding going on.

Yes, I have experience specific to LV wood and the question at hand, did you read the referenced thread from 2006?

I have talked about LV multiple times over the years and covering the same stuff repeatedly gets old.

I imagine none of that will satisfy you so here’s a short answer: LV is particularly susceptible to wet/dry cycling. This is what causes it to crack (eventually) on virtually any direct blown instrument. Seems to fare much better on bellows blown instruments, or so I’ve heard. We only made direct blown instruments where I worked, so that’s all I have certain knowledge of.

Author:  Geoffrey Ellis [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Loren wrote:
LV is particularly susceptible to wet/dry cycling. This is what causes it to crack (eventually) on virtually any direct blown instrument.


It's possible that the LV instruments that I've made (and if my memory serves there have only been a couple of them, the rest being verawood) have not been reported as having cracked simply because of the bore treatment and outer finishes that I use. I essentially seal the wood of all the flutes I make inside in out, effectively separating them from moisture, either from the player or the ambient atmosphere. This might account for different behavior.

Author:  Loren [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lignum vitae as a flutewood?

Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
Loren wrote:
LV is particularly susceptible to wet/dry cycling. This is what causes it to crack (eventually) on virtually any direct blown instrument.


It's possible that the LV instruments that I've made (and if my memory serves there have only been a couple of them, the rest being verawood) have not been reported as having cracked simply because of the bore treatment and outer finishes that I use. I essentially seal the wood of all the flutes I make inside in out, effectively separating them from moisture, either from the player or the ambient atmosphere. This might account for different behavior.



Could be the case. We had a sealing process too, which worked extremely well on virtually all the other woods we used, but apparently failed on LV.

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