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Thread: QUILTED MAHOGANY "THE TREE." GOING....Going...?

  1. #1

    QUILTED MAHOGANY "THE TREE." GOING....Going...?

    Quilted mahogany, commonly called “THE TREE” has become legendary since 1965 when it was felled in the Chiquibul jungle. Fine Woodworking featured an article in 1985 relating the astonishing story of “the tree’s” journey and obstacles to be overcome transporting it to the USA.

    I have updated the history from 1985 to the present time. If anyone wants a copy please e-mail me – rupert36@gmail.com

    The end of “The Tree” supply line is perilously close at hand, so much so, I have been reduced to crafting pieces out of offcuts. Picture one shows an octagonal coffee/end table top using eight 3/8” thick quilted mahogany with contrasting figuring surrounded by Maplewood and inlaid by purchased marquetry. Sanding was to 1000 grit. A one coat shellac finish was applied followed by 12 coats of Mcclusky’s varnish with wet and dry 220 grit sanding between coats.
    The final finish copied the old furniture maker’s technique used by Sheraton and Chippendale - light oil combined with very fine rottenstone then hand burnished.

    The last hurrah! The initial yield of “The Tree” was 11,000 BF. The finest figuring was either a tortoise shell or attractive waves of golden hue contrasted with browns and reds. To see a finished piece of furniture or a guitar is a dream any lover of wood should desire. The second picture shows part of a panel in an English bar.

    My research indicates, after almost a half century, approximately 0.018% of the original tree is left available. Unlike gold and platinum there will likely be no more supply available in our lifetimes. I found one hoarder of wood with a very large board which would market for a modest $135,000. Another source has a beautiful board valued at approximately $110,000. After Mark Berry had his 1986 article published in Fine Woodworking prices raised dramatically to $130.00 BF – now a steel but impossible to buy. Between 2005 and 2008 this rare quilted mahogany changed hands at over $600.00 BF some being traded by a Family Woodworking member. The latest actual sales price for a piece of quilted mahogany suitable for guitar or furniture making was over $1000.00 BF. There is one (the last) board available which would make 4/5 guitars or small items of furniture (Picture 3).
    In my estimation with, such a small inventory, current eco concerns and no future supply, prices will double within the next two years.

    Anyone owning small pieces of this precious commodity – please let me know?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails OctaginalQM_TablePicture1.jpg   BarQMPicture2.jpg   24x41TreeMahog41x24 018.jpg  

  2. #2
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    See http://familywoodworking.org/forums/...d-Mahogany-Top

    That 14 foot long slab was finished into a tabletop, but did not sell in a furniture show a couple years ago. It is owned by Edward "Alex" Alexander, who has a shop near Sam Blasco's shop (Sam was redoing the finishing for Alex). I don't know if Alex has more boards from that three, but he does have an amazing collection of wood.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  3. #3
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    charlie, when we went over to eds. it was gone. he had sold it to the guitar guy.. and it was gonna be turned into smaller pieces for guitars
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    charlie, when we went over to eds. it was gone. he had sold it to the guitar guy.. and it was gonna be turned into smaller pieces for guitars
    That is sad, it was a beautiful table.
    Last edited by Bill Satko; 01-02-2012 at 06:32 PM.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
    Alex sold/part traded his qulited mahogany to, as stated, a guitar guy. However, it is still in tact because he didn't have the heart to cut it up! It is one of the boards I mentioned in my post.

    Peter

  6. #6
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    Peter, I think I have had some of this tree. I worked for Martin Guitar back in 85-86 and they did a run of guitars from this tree. I scavanged some of their "seconds" and some time ago I had some in hand. Something they considered second was not a second in my opinion. I'll have to check to see if I have any left. I haven't looked at my guitar sets in some time. They have been stored and I haven't done guitar work in some time. I had no idea that the wood was priced that high. If I don't have any now I may be a sorry camper.

  7. #7
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    There is a similar trend going on with the best birdseye maple. However it is obviously not to quite the scale nor price range. When I was a lad and not into wood at all I had an opportunity to buy some outstanding birdseye from a longtime generational landowner/logging family. I sure wish I was better than ignorant at that time. The sources of the best birdseye is dwindling because of modern forestry management practices. Birdseye occurs when sugar maple trees grow up under stress on North facing slopes. There are some other conditions that cause it to occur and these other conditions are being eliminated by modern forestry management to "increase the overall value of a timber stand". Some of the trees harvested in remote locations were so large in diameter that they were called "nickle eye", the eyes were the size of nickles. (the larger the diameter the bigger the "eyes")

    I used to be able to pick up premium "seconds" for a very reasonable price. The sources are drying up.

    With figured mahogany I have noticed the similarity with the supply. I have a grand piano that I will be refinishing some time this year (hopefully) This piano is in curly ribbon mahogany and I had hoped to find enough wood with similar figure to make a matching piano bench. Looks like I should get busy scouring the net to find some descent wood.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  8. #8
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	64095Thanks Ed Sautter. I have attached two pictures left and below the first being the favored figuring and the second although from the same tree I would say (but this is personal opinion) is a secondary figuring.
    I hope you find some of this precious commodity – if so please post a picture.

    Also thanks Paul Downes. Very interesting points. Whilst most of us support the green movement it is disturbing to see the exotic woods we love are diminishing. In Mark Berry’s 1985 FineWoodWorking article he finished by hoping another magnificent mutant would be discovered – a reward was offered by a Honduras mill owner but nothing was discovered.
    Peter
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails MahogFW1.jpg  

  9. #9
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yes the Table is still uncut! It really is a hard thing to take another man's art and cut it up. It's also hard to cut up a board the likes of which I will never see again. Alex still has the base...if I had the cash I buy that and try to keep it as is as long as I could.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed sautter View Post
    Peter, I think I have had some of this tree. I worked for Martin Guitar back in 85-86 and they did a run of guitars from this tree. I scavanged some of their "seconds" and some time ago I had some in hand. Something they considered second was not a second in my opinion. I'll have to check to see if I have any left. I haven't looked at my guitar sets in some time. They have been stored and I haven't done guitar work in some time. I had no idea that the wood was priced that high. If I don't have any now I may be a sorry camper.
    Hi Ed,
    If you still have some of the Tree Mahogany, I would be interested.

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