Kawika, tell me about koawood

About Koa Wood... 
A Woodworker's description
and a sampling of images

A few years ago, my friend and fellow woodworker Hank Snider wrote the following regarding Hawaiian koa wood:

Koa wood leaves and flowers    "With the possible exception of sandalwood, koa is the best-known hardwood of the Hawaiian Islands. Acacia koa is a native forest tree, unique to Hawaii, and held inreverence. Koa means bold, a quality essential to the ocean-going vessels which were adze-carved from giant logs in Big Island forests. Koa was used by early European craftsmen in Hawaii to make western-style furniture of the last century, some of whhich survives as Hawaiian heritage antiques. Modern uses include some extensive employment in isolated commercial and government buildings, some production furniture made locally in small factories, and the limited output of a few score of individual craftsmen who make one or a few pieces at a time.

For those of you who haven't had the chance to see koa wood, I offer the following from a random selection of pieces that I deal with. There are two groups of koa images, both taken using a Microtek Scanmaker E3 and the pieces of wood themselves. In the first group, the samples have been lightly treated with Deft Danish oil (the SCNKOA#.GIF series); the second group of images is taken from the backs of some of my current instruments in stock (SCNUKE#) wherein the wood has been sealed and lacquered. The size chosen (200x200 pixels) may make it useful for your Windows wallpaper. If these images are used in a commercial site, I would appreciate either a link or a simple source acknowledgement.

 First we look at relatively simple patterns


Sometimes I deal with koa wood that is a mixture of both sapwood, which is usually more lightly colored, and heartwood. If the wood has been allowed to languish in the elements before harvesting, various fungi enter the wood and discolor it in a variety of ways producing an effect termed "spalting". Spalted wood is softer than unaltered wood, so our resin impregnation process becomes that much more important in making this beautiful effect still useable.



The last set of images are from the backs of current instruments. Symmetrical patterns are taken from the center seam area...

(to download double-click or option-click)

To explore more of the website, please refer to the Sitemap and Search Engine