New Binding Wood

Binding Wood from Tiger MapleI am very fortunate to have a great supplier of hardwood right here in Cookeville, TN named Winell Lee. I picked up the Tiger Maple in the picture at left today to use for the binding on my guitars. I first used maple binding when I worked at Gallagher Guitar Co. in Wartrace, TN, a company that makes fine sting string guitars popularized by the late Doc Watson. If you are a bit shocked that such a beautiful piece of wood could be used for a mere accent on the edge of a guitar body then I understand completely, and can reassure you that this wood I bought today will probably be used for some other small projects. On the other hand, there are few more beautiful contrasts in woodworking than maple and rosewood, and after seeing the results on the mohangany Doc Watson Signature and other rosewood models at Gallagher Guitar, I always knew that I would eventually use this color scheme on my own guitars.

The flamed look of Tiger Maple is created by a distorted grain pattern. While the grain normally travels in a straight line, the grain orientation of flamed maple curves in a wave pattern. It is rare to find a piece of wood like the one I bought today in which the flame travels the complete length of the board. It's hard to say what causes this wave in the grain, but there are a lot of theories - genetics, environmental stress, minerals in the soil...who knows. 

In addition to being the wood of choice for the Kentucky Rifle and the early Les Paul, Tiger Maple has always been a wood prized by intrument makers - most notably violin makers. However, tiger maple is also a prized wood for the back and sides of classical guitars, and if you hang around, then I am sure you will see one listed on this website before too long.