Harpsichord-making woods for sale

 

Air-dried spruce soundboard wood sold in flitches

A spectacular off-cut from one of the flitches!

 

 

            This soundboard wood is sold only in complete flitches which I will not split up.  We will make a conservative estimate of the total usable area in each flitch.  Let us know which particular flitch you are interested in purchasing.  I have tried to describe each flitch accurately and impartially, but if you wish we will have a second look at the flitches you are interested in and try to describe them more fully either by telephone or by e-mail.  Please ask if you would like more information about individual flitches.  Have a look at the larger-sized photos (click on the small thumbnail photos) of the flitches to get an idea of the grain, quartering and the sizes of the individual planks (compare with the scale in each photo) making up each flitch.  The large photos were all taken at the same distance from the end of the flitch and so can be compared with one another accurately.

 

            Because of its age, the outer edges of each plank have oxidised to a warm golden colour somewhat darker than the interior wood.  Once glued together and exposed in a window (or outside protected from the rain) to the sun the whole soundboard will take on a beautiful uniform warm colour. 

 

            My advice when using this soundboard wood is, before cutting it up, to mark each plank with an arrow pointing to the same end of the plank.  The wood should then be organised so that ALL of the planks making up the soundboard have the same direction.  This means that, when planing the wood to thickness, the grain in all of the same planks also has the same direction so that, once the direction of planing is determined, it is then the same for all of the planks and there is therefore no risk of raising the grain when planing successive planks.

 

            In most cases a judicious choice of planks using the short sections with knots for treble soundboard planks would recover much more usable wood than that listed below.

 

Although listed here as harpsichord soundboard wood, much of this spruce would be excellent for making the soundboards in virginals, spinets, clavichords, forte-pianos, lutes, guitars, dulcimers, etc.

 

Prices for individual flitches, 1 January, 2017

 (click on the thumbnail photo to see a larger image of the end-grain of the flitch)

Flitch

number

No of

planks

Photos of

end grain

Length

Total

Area

Price/m2

Total

cost

General description

L1

11

215 cm

3.64 m2

544

1979

A particularly wide side flitch.  The grain is of somewhat variable width and

the  wood is a bit resinous.  Fairly accurately quartered with lots of

sparkle from rays in the surface.  There are quite a few pitch pockets,

but still lots of usable wood.

L3

9

219 cm

2.41 m2

622

1498

A wide side flitch.  VERY well quartered and mostly wide, but evenly-spaced

grain.  Knots give 170 cm of clean wood in the bottom (wide) three planks but the

ends (46cm) are also usable.  This tree's neighbour must have been used for

the 1646 Couchet double-manual harpsichord in Brussels!  Extra planks!

L5

4

237 cm

1.08 m2

544

587

A small side flitch probably from the same tree as L3 - it has a very similar grain

and properties at least.  Bottom (wide) planks are usable full length, the others

 have a knot that is 124 cm from one end.

L6

4

225 cm

1.56 m2

622

972

Another 'flat' flitch!  Very well quartered and even grain.  The two central planks

are usable full length, the outside planks have a middle knot that gives a

maximum of 130cm from one end and 90 cm from the other.  No pitch pockets.

L7

9

216 cm

3.5 m2

544

1902

An amazing side flitch!  The bottom (wide) planks have knots that enable lengths

of only 95 cm, 85 cm and 50 cm to be recovered.  But the middle planks can all be

 used full length.  Very well quartered and with a slightly variable grain width.

Middle plank 20 cm wide can be used full length!  Some pitch pockets.

L10

4

226 cm

1.40 m2

622

871

A 'flat' flitch.  Mostly VERY well quartered and has a fairly even grain.  Some

edge knots, but most of the planks are usable full length.  Few pitch pockets,

and wood with a real sparkle.  An 'extra' thin top plank included gratis.

L11

7

225

 2.22 m2

622

1385

A side flitch of excellent quality.  Very well quartered and slightly wide grain.

The bottom (wide) boards have a knot at one end that yields only 134 cm of full-

length wood.  Otherwise all of the board are clean full length.  A few pitch pockets.

               

M1

9

191 cm

2.98m2

544

1618

Most of the flitch is interrupted by a knot that gives usable lengths of only

 75cm and 110cm.  There is a number of large pitch pockets.  But the whole

  flitch is VERY accurately quartered.  Some water staining and old shakes.

   Only 0.4 m2available full length; the remainder is 76cm long (1.72m2) and

 105cm long (0.86m2).  Beautiful wood (see the end-grain photograph above).

               

S1

14

172 cm.

3 m2

544

1621

A centre flitch so that the planks are all  beautifully quartered.  Lots of

sparkle.  Some knots and many resin  pockets which reduce the amount 

of usable wood.  Very even grain.  Would be very good for clavichords.

S6

12

171 cm

2.17 m2

622

1350

A centre flitch of excellent quality.  Accurately quartered and of very even

grain.  A number of pitch pockets which will reduce the amount of usable

wood very little.  All planks can be used full length.  Full of great wood!

S9

9

169 cm

1.1 m2

544

592

A small flitch exhibiting better quartering at one end than at the other!  Bottom

two planks have a knot in the middle.  A number of ?lightening? shakes in the

lower planks which have been taken into account when calculating the usable area.

 

Please note:  by way of a price comparison, kiln-dried Sitka spruce (picea sitchensis) of soundboard quality is available in the UK for 377 per square meter (priced in 2015).  It is kiln dried and not air dried and is not seasoned at all, it is not the traditional European spruce (picea excelsa) used historically, but is Sitka spruce from North America.  Sitka spruce has totally different properties (it has a higher Young's modulus (stiffness) and a much lower coefficient of internal friction) when used as soundboard wood.  It therefore has a very bright 'edgy' sound that exaggerates the upper false harmonics of the strings which are out of tune with the fundamental note of the string.  It lacks all of the round fundamental - and therefore musical - sound of the wood sold here.  But commercial Sitka spruce is also NOT not sold in flitches but in individual planks, and so is of variable grain and colour since each plank comes from a different tree.  It has been possible to buy spruce sold in flitches, but it is very difficult to find.

 

How to make payment for the wood

 

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