Reclaimed fir from 100-year-old building...any guitar uses?

bc-cosmo

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Hello experts! We're doing a basement renovation at our heritage apartment building, and the guys have pulled out a lot of very old fir timbers. We'll repurpose much of it for shelving and the like, but I wondered if it could be useful for building guitars?

The wood is 4x6 tongue and groove, 8 foot lengths. Building was built in 1912.

I'm not a luthier, but am aware that acoustic guitars use spruce, and I've had a couple of pine Telecasters that were really good.

What about fir? Any advice?

 

old goat

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don't know about guitars but a couple of recommendations about resawing it. Check with a magnetic stud finder for hidden nails. Resaw with a bandsaw to minimize waste and because the blade is a lot cheaper if you hit a nail. Resaw for vertical grain (what would be called quartersawn with other species)--straight narrow grain lines close together. You should see them on 2 opposite faces of the beam with the flat sawn grain on the other two faces. You might have to lightly plane a small bit to see the grain in an old beam, which is probably rough sawn, which makes the grain hard to see. Vertical grain doug fir is worth a lot more than flat sawn.
 

bc-cosmo

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Thanks for that link. Really amazing work!

This stack of wood needs to leave the premises soon to make room for construction. I guess I will look through it and try to select a likely piece or two.

 

Grez

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I build from reclaimed lumber whenever I can. A very very small percentage of wood I find is good enough or potentially instrument grade and I generally have to put more time into prepping the wood for use than you would think. So from your pile, you might find one really nice board and that would be enough to make a 3pc body. The point is, the pleasure of having a guitar you made from wood reclaimed from a place that means something to you. The time and effort to reuse this wood makes no sense outside the the special value to you.
 
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Take more than you can imagine you will need, and here's why:

This 100 year old fir will be very brittle, and many pieces will just not stay together all the way through the project. This type of wood doesn't acquire the toughness in aging that some other species do, but it will be very light in weight and that's useful for guitar bodies.
 

bc-cosmo

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Thanks for your wisdom, guys. Still thinking about this.

If I were to snag 2-3 of these boards, any thoughts on how to choose? Now that it's getting stacked up, I see how some of it is splitting...


 

twinrider1

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I don't know about guitars, but I bet those would make some awesome workbenches. Take all of them.
 

bc-cosmo

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Yeah, the plan is to use most of them to make shelves and a countertop for the building's new spaces.
I've seen some of that finished work in one of the apartments here using the old fir, and it's really nice.
 

Grez

Gold Supporting Member
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220
Look for straight grain running perpendicular to the top or the side (perfectly vertical or horizontal). Then orient the boards so the grain is all vertical and glue them up.
 

CharlyG

Play It Forward
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Make ZZ Top guitars......

oh wait.......

brain spell check on order
 

swiveltung

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14,497
Old fir is great wood. The 2x4's in my 1925 house were clear fir and true 2" by 4". Clear fir (no knots) today is very expensive . I cant tell if that stuff is clear or not. I would select the most knot free pieces. Take all you can, you might find a market for it.
I've not made a guitar out of fir, but suspect it might be pretty good. People make guitars they like out of pine... which surprises me. Spruce is a relative to fir but softer and more lightweight... so I suspect fir would be good. It's harder.
 

Mighty Melvin

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I imagine that it would be hard to end up with a flat, smooth surface finish. You've seen fir plywood. You know how hard it is to make it look nice, unless the look of fir is the look you want.
 

swiveltung

Member
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14,497
Plywood is peeled off circumferentially. It is very hard to finish for sure. But normal fir should finish fine, no worse than a Spruce or cedar acoustic top.
 




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