1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Bird's eye maple

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by bag of hammers, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    I was walking around the property with a friend looking at a couple trees we might want to take down this winter. He commented on the bird's eye maples I have on the lot (3 or 4 sugar maples with very distinct bark / patterns). Apparently this wood is sought after for things like musical instruments, etc. Without knowing any better, I might have one day cut them down and burned them.

    Anybody ever deal with this stuff? I thought I had pics on my phone but apparently not. I'll try to remember to grab some next time out.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. BillLion

    BillLion Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    417
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
  3. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    http://birdseyecreations.com/store/index.php?main_page=page&id=10

    "The average selling price of a bird’s-eye maple log is in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 per 1,000 board feet. To put this in perspective, one double bottom truck fully loaded with the highest quality maple bird’s-eye logs would be worth in excess of $700,000. The same size load of plain hard maple logs would be worth about $3,000."

    !!! I have a few trees that I think are bird's eye. If they are, not sure what kind of quality. Could be worth a few $. Imagine if I had a couple acres of top quality logs? I think I'd be really really happy...

    EDIT - the bit of reading I'm doing on the above link and elsewhere seems to suggest that Ontario, Michigan and the Great Lakes area in general are hot spots for this tree. Might be worth a 2nd look when we're out cutting...?
  4. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    934
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    Bird's eye Maple isn't a species or sub species of tree. It's a grain figure. Can't tell by the bark, and may be only in a part of the tree. A logger bidding on your lot won't say "wow, you got a lot of veneer logs and Bird's Eye Maple, it would be up to you to prove and demand. I'm a musician who values vintage and/or well crafted instruments. Bird's Eye Maple's value is decorative, not acoustical.
  5. Soundchasm

    Soundchasm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    522
    Loc:
    Dayton, OH
    Bird's eye can be extremely attractive in an electric guitar neck, or even as a top skin. Sugar maple makes a pretty stable guitar neck, although I've read that some say it's slightly less stable than unfigured maple.
    Maple, Birdseye (Acer saccharum):

    Might find this link interesting.
    http://www.warmoth.com/pages/CustomNeck.aspx?style=1

    Just click on more info at any wood choice.
  6. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    934
    Loc:
    Upstate NY

    My friend and neighbor who builds solid bodies for the stars uses Butternut for the body. Bird's eye for banjo necks,and fiddle backs, Sycamore for fiddle necks, White/liveOak, Black locust for deadwood in boats, Lightrd, White Pine, Larch for planking, Popple for wagons, Hemlock for stables, every wood has a good use besides burnin'.
  7. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Messages:
    648
    Loc:
    Maine
    A friend of the family has some VERY large shagbark hickories on his property.... a large semi-local (2 1/2 hours from here) furniture company offered him "stupid money" for the trees... he said no. He valued the shade more than the money....
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
    bag of hammers likes this.
  8. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Messages:
    648
    Loc:
    Maine
    I've got on my land... several 2'+ oaks (white and red) that are dead straight and limb free for at least 35'... aka veneer trees... unfortunately, they are in a "triangle" that is separated from my main property by a road ROW... the ROW also has 3 phase on all 3 sides.....
  9. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    Thanks Ehouse - yeah I gathered that from my short drive through some of the online stuff. I'm thinking I just have some interesting trees in the mix and not sure what to make of it. Nobody cuts a tree on my property but me. Hate to throw one in the fire if it could have otherwise been used to make something beautiful.
  10. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Messages:
    648
    Loc:
    Maine
    that could be said about any tree.... I've got 12 "bull" pines ringing my side lawn.... the board feet of lumber would be measured in thousands of feet.. could be made into any number of beautiful things....or the oaks.. or the ash.... or the maple...
  11. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    Good point. Got hundred maples and only a couple bird's eye though so guess I'm just thinking they're a bit rare? Kinda special that way?
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,127
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Any figuring, particularly if useable in plank form, is worth a premium. I haven't recently purchased bird's eye (although I've built a few projects with it myself in the past), but I am waiting on a new dining room table, which we ordered in tiger maple. The cost was about $800 more than the same table in cherry, and that was only paying for tiger maple on the top, as the skirt and legs will be painted hard maple.
    Soundchasm likes this.
  13. Soundchasm

    Soundchasm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    522
    Loc:
    Dayton, OH
    That kind of stuff makes me salivate. There's nothing quite like the whole aesthetic package when something has been purposefully and artfully crafted with all the generations prior making a contribution. Pretty cool.
  14. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,588
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    There is a market for birds eye, but generally the folks who pay the most want to cut it themselves. I ran into a person who builds and repairs stringed instruments in VT and he buys it on the stump and goes through quite a culling and drying process for several years before he can use the wood. If its cut at the wrong time of the year, there can be staining of the wood and if not seasoned properly it can split. Veneer mills also buy clear straight trees with no defects and pay well so if you can locate veneer mill they may be able to hook you up with a broker.

    Eastern Maine was the capital for curly and birds eye a few years ago, despite being predominantly softwood. Unemployed Canadians would go on Crown Land and poach figured wood, then haul it over the border to sell. It became a major issue as they would cruise the woods with a broad ax and slash a chunk out of every tree that might have figure.

    Its a PITA to work with, unless the wood tools are razor sharp, the grain will tear out when planed. A local sawmill used to supply Ethan Allen furniture, they regarded curly and birds eye maple as defect and culled it out whenever they found it. They usually threw it in the boiler so that it wouldn't get mixed up with their "good" wood. Ethan Allen was somewhat high volume and used power tools so usually they would have more trouble with grain tear out than it was worth.

    My bother knew a few brothers that bought figured wood at the stump or log yard, one of them built stringed instruments, one block birdseye big enough for a bass fiddle back would pay for the tree and the rest would be profit. They did it few years and then one year they bought a couple of trees cut at the wrong time of year and they developed stain. I guess the joke for a few years after was their firewood pile was one of the most expensive piles of firewood in the area as it was all stained figured wood. I cut down a smaller curly maple once without knowing it and as soon as I split one piece I came to the conclusion that I had about a third of cord of wood that was worth a grand. Luckilly it had a twin and I am pretty sure its also curly and I have been letting it grow out for several years.
    Soundchasm likes this.
  15. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    934
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    A knowledgeable forester can be worth their wage to help market your timber if you think you have some "specialty" wood.
  16. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    Everyone - thanks for the great feedback.

    Peakbagger - I'd love to see a pic of that 2nd standing tree - just to compare. I also have to get some pics posted here - for sure will do if anyone is interested in seeing what I'm yammering about. It might turn out that I have nothing at all. Best case, a few trees that might qualify. Either way it would be great to know more about this.

    Wow. Once upon a time I had a Fender strat - a factory unit from a long rack of similar stuff, in a downtown music store. That's about the extent of my experience - not even in the same realm. I wouldn't call myself a real musician by any stretch (never had the courage to really chase the dream, so to speak) but I'd still consider myself incredibly fortunate to own something custom made. Must be great to visit your friend and see this stuff being crafted, played for the first time, etc.. Wish I could trade a tree for a 6 string acoustic.. (just kidding --- sorta...) :)
  17. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    934
    Loc:
    Upstate NY

    He had a meeting with John Mayall a while back, but I don't know if he got a sale.
    Soundchasm likes this.
  18. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    Very cool. Assuming he gets to jam for a bit with some of these guys - would be awesome just to be in the room...
  19. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,512
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    I have a custom recurve bow made with birds eye and yes - it is valuable but cannot be determined by looking at the bark so maybe/maybe not. And like mentioned it may only be a small portion of the tree. If it were that easy to determine a 10,000 dollar log the log would no longer be worth 10G - unfortunately
    Joful likes this.
  20. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    There's a lot of knowledge here - I had no clue about this. At the end of the day, it's very interesting.
  21. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    934
    Loc:
    Upstate NY

    Google Tom Lieber guitars.
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Wikipedia:

    Bird's eye
    is a type of figure that occurs within several kinds of wood, most notably in hard maple. It has a distinctive pattern that resembles tiny, swirling eyes disrupting the smooth lines of grain. It is somewhat reminiscent of a burl, but it is quite different: the small knots that make the burl are missing.

    It is not known what causes the phenomenon. Research into the cultivation of bird's eye maple has so far discounted the theories that it is caused by pecking birds deforming the wood grain or that an infecting fungus makes it twist. However, no one has demonstrated a complete understanding of any combination of climate, soil, tree variety, insects, viruses or genetic mutation that may produce the effect.

    Bird's eye maple is most often found in Acer saccharum (sugar maple), but millers also find bird's eye figure in red maple, white ash, Cuban mahogany, American beech, black walnut, and yellow birch. Trees that grow in the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States yield the greatest supply, along with some varieties in the Rocky Mountains. It is not uncommon in Huon Pine, which grows only in Tasmania. Although there are a few clues in a tree's bark that indicate the lumber might have bird's eye figure, it is usually necessary to fell the tree and cut it apart to know for sure.
    JoeyD, Soundchasm and nrford like this.
  23. Soundchasm

    Soundchasm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    522
    Loc:
    Dayton, OH
    Whoa! Cue Peter Gabriel's "Big Time"!! Nice.

    I guess (based on one of my guitars) I want to know, who has a particle board tree growing at their place?
    bag of hammers and Joful like this.
  24. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    934
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    They all get bought up by fancy built-in kitchen manufacturers.
    bag of hammers likes this.
  25. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,588
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    My second maple is a curly maple not a birdseye and it doesn't look any different than a regular maple from the outside. The reason I know is curly, is its twin and that a snow plow hit it and scrapped a patch of bark off and ithe underlying wood has some definite waves. There is a USFS study floating around the web somewhere on figured maple and how to identify it in standing timber but even the study says its difficult.

    Long ago while hiking the AT through the smokies I passed through curly maple gap, many of the trees had distinct waves in the bark and dead one with the bark flaked off showed distinct waves. Unfortunately the broadax method I described used by poachers is the only real way to tell, although they do tend to grow in clumps so if you find one you may find others.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013

Share This Page