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Author Topic: Exotics?  (Read 606 times)

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Offline YellowHammer

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Exotics?
« on: December 07, 2019, 11:03:24 PM »
Recently, we have started selling exotic wood species, due in large part for a demand by our customers who must drive several hours away to get some.  We have also secured a reliable and very high quality source, which in a test case, has shown to be able to provide the very high grade we sell.  

Currently, we have Zebra wood, Patagonian Rosewood, Africa Walnut, African Mahogany, Purple Heart, and Paduak. 
 
What other species should I consider? Any thoughts and recommendations are welcome. 

Thanks

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2019, 11:14:45 PM »
I used to sell exotics, The rosewoods always sold well. Check out babinga, cocabolo, tulipwood. You have to do your own spelling.  :D

Offline Southside

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2019, 11:25:51 PM »
Have a customer who was in Africa for work and visited a lumber yard, said there were stacks and stacks of every exotic wood you could imagine and in the middle of the yard was a secured building which contained the "very high value" lumber - you needed permission from the yard manager to get into that building, which he obtained as he had to know what treasures lie within.  The doors were opened to this secretive vault and inside he could see the rarest, most amazing wood on the continent.  Southern Yellow Pine.....I did ask him if it was stamped Georgia Pacific or not :D, guess it's just like real-estate and practicing with explosives - location, location, location.  :D
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2019, 06:59:19 AM »
@muggs How do any of the yellow wood sell?  Canary wood, yellow wood etc?  

I noticed the ebony woods are basically banned for some reason. What would be a good substitute for the black woods?  

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Offline btulloh

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2019, 09:08:34 AM »
@YellowHammer you've got a good list to start.  Muggs had some good adds.  I would also add Ziricote and Koa, just off the top of my head.

One of the best exotic dealers I ever ran into was just north of San Diego.  You might want to check out their website for ideas.  Tropical and Exotic Hardwoods

Here's another good one:  California Exotic Hardwoods

I used to deal with these guys when I live out there:  Eisendbrand  (not to be confused with "Heisenberg" of Breaking Bad / Manhattan Project)
Their website is not that great, but it's another reference.

As far as black wood like ebony, it's almost impossible these days due to restrictions.  A lot of people have gone to making their own.  There are some finish schedules around that start with analine dye for creating ebony look-alikes.  Doesn't help you, but that's what's going on with black wood.  There may be something out there I'm not aware of.  IDK

As a side note, all the restrictions have made some of the favorites like rosewood and ebony difficult or impossible.  Guitar makers have been brought to their knees over this.  A lot of people traveling and returning to the the US with guitars made prior to the restrictions have a lot of hoops to jump through.  Certificates are required, and that doesn't always work.  People have had guitars impounded for no good reason.  Gibson was really raked over the coals a few years ago - mostly due to legacy inventory of ebony and rosewood.  It was a real mess.

When are you going to open a branch in Richmond, VA?  I would be your first customer!

Good luck with the exotics.


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Offline btulloh

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2019, 09:27:00 AM »
I don't know what the retail opportunity for Ancient Kauri might be, but it's a really interesting and unique wood.  Forty to fifty THOUSAND years old.  Comes from bogs in New Zealand.  As far as I know, there's only one importer in the US.  Maybe @Ianab would have some input.

At the very least, it's worth checking out.  Ancient Kauri
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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2019, 09:58:16 AM »
I would not bother with the yellow woods, after all we have Osage orange here. I did not mess with ebony. Most of my wood came from electric guitar makers, it was their rejects, they were very picky. I was a consultant to them. 

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2019, 10:14:57 AM »
You are really doing good with wood!!!
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Offline Larry

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2019, 10:18:52 AM »
In my woodturning club, we have a lot of turners that do segmented pieces.  Besides the wood you already stock, get some yellowwood, and bloodwood.  Unlike osage orange, yellowwood doesn't turn brown.  I bought 20 board foot last month and my supplier said yellowwood is getting near impossible to obtain.

Blackwood is a good substitute (I think better than) for ebony.  Its great to turn for finials and pens.  Excellent for inlay.  Buy large boards, cut to small pieces, and mark up 5 times.  Just a note, I'm turning Christmas ornaments and dye cherry and maple icicles with black shoe dye.  Most people think its ebony.

Most woodturners are old and have disposable $$$'s.  We sometimes organize a expedition to travel to a exotic wood supplier and load up. ;)

Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

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Offline btulloh

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2019, 11:13:44 AM »
All good points in the posts above.  

No doubt you're already factoring in the ability of carrying exotics brings in people to buy decent quantities of walnut and maple while they're there.  I've traveled a fair distance at times to get a few bd ft of purple heart to make some hand planes and picked up 500 bd ft of cabinet lumber to make the trip worthwhile.  That dynamic and the 5x markup for billets and blanks can be a real profit generator.  You seem to have a good nose for profit.
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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2019, 01:10:35 PM »
I don't know what the retail opportunity for Ancient Kauri might be, but it's a really interesting and unique wood.  Forty to fifty THOUSAND years old.  Comes from bogs in New Zealand.  As far as I know, there's only one importer in the US.  Maybe @Ianab would have some input.

At the very least, it's worth checking out.  Ancient Kauri

The export of Ancient Kauri has been really clamped down in recent years. Legally it can only now be exported as "finished" products. Any rough wood out there now will be old stock.

Tasmanian Blackwood might be worth looking at though. It's closely related to Koa, but not endangered or on any restricted Cites list.
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Offline low_48

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2019, 10:33:53 PM »
I would not bother with the yellow woods, after all we have Osage orange here. I did not mess with ebony. Most of my wood came from electric guitar makers, it was their rejects, they were very picky. I was a consultant to them.
I reason to stock wood like yellow heart is that is stays pretty much yellow. Osage goes brown.

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2019, 11:27:49 PM »
Sipo/Utile is a good mahogany substitute.
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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2019, 08:00:24 AM »
Im looking into all the suggestions, I appreciate the help.  

Our exotic experiment is a way to dip our toe in the water and see what happens.  There are about 2.5 million people within a 60 mile commute radius to Huntsville, and so people are used to driving to Rockler or Woodcraft in Birmingham, Chattanooga, Nashville and such because that is the only place to get exotic wood.

However, this stuff is pretty expensive, even at wholesale prices, so getting enough diversity is important without breaking the bank.  We didnt even advertise last Saturday that we had exotics, and customers had already heard through the grapevine, in just a few hours.

Interestingly enough, the company who sells to both Rockler and Woodcraft contacted us because they had heard of us and wanted to see if we wanted to sell exotics.  Surprisingly, we had been considering it because of the customer requests, so the timing was right.  

Here was our first shipment in, about $2,800 for just this little bit of 5 species.
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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2019, 08:12:25 AM »
Nice pallet of lumber.  Padauk and Purpleheart really stand out, don't they?  

Padauk is really interesting to work with.  I made a bed out of padauk and it oxidizes into a very rich red over time.  If you want it to stay bright orange it has to live in the dark.  It has a unique smell and is unforgettable after working with it.

Interesting how your customers are reacting.  You must be the go-to guy for fine lumber.  I'd call that a real achievement.

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2019, 09:45:23 AM »
Robert, I would also suggest ipe.  Its one of the best woods for outdoor use.

World Timber in Hubert, NC has a lot of exotics at some fantastic prices.  Weve resaw a lot of them for some of our customers.  Almost everything that Ive seen from there is FAS grade.
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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2019, 03:47:09 PM »
If you ever want to evaluate your dust collection system, plus see where fine sanding dust goes, build something out of padauk. 

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2019, 06:15:44 PM »
Im looking at all the suggestion, some Im not familiar with.  Great suggestions.  

We sold about half of what we had on the rack Saturday, not bad considering we had not announced publicly that we had started selling exotics.  

Im also trying to differentiate between the species people would buy in small quantities, vs the species people would buy enough to say, build a piece of furniture.  Id like a selection of both.  African Mahogany is considerable less expensive than Hondran Mahogany, and I will probably get some 4/4 as well as 8/4 of that.  Enough for someone to build a desk.

So far the customer reaction has been good.  Its a mixture of surprise (there isnt another exotic wood retailer for a couple hours drive in any direction) and disbelief (I have always been a strong proponent that properly prepared American Hardwood is some of the most beautiful in the world, and here I am sellling exotics).  One long time customer put his hand on the floor and said It doesnt feel overly cold.  

One customer who routinely buys wood from us said he was going to Birmingham, 2 hours drive away, to buy some exotics after he bought  his domestic species from us.  He was most pleased we had exactly what he wanted and didnt have to burn another 5 hours driving.  

Im still not even sure what length to prepare the boards.

Once the word gets out, Im hoping this will snowball, as it fits right within our wheelhouse.  Provide the very best and beautiful wood for our customers, stuff they cant get anywhere else, or at least not easily or at the same price point, I.e. just a tad less than Rockler or Woodcraft. :D


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Offline Larry

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2019, 09:12:14 PM »
Two other items you might consider are baltic birch at a reasonable price and burls.  Loggers will gladly sell a burl to a steady buyer who can move them.
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

We need to insure our customers understand the importance of our craft.

Offline btulloh

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Re: Exotics?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2019, 09:20:13 PM »
Excellent suggestion on the baltic birch. Especially if its not available somewhere close. That would make you a one-stop shop. 

Heck, you might even start carrying hinges and drawer slides some day. 
HM126


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Urban exotics and invasives of Florida

Started by Rob Bocik on Urban and Community Forestry

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