How much is a cord of maple for making guitars?

how88December 8, 2012

I don't know if this is the correct forum to post this question. Someone has put in an ad in Craigslist wanting to buy maple trees for the purpose of making guitars. We have a couple that he is interested in. He is offering $3000 per cord. Does that sound right? Also, what do we have to be cautious about as this sounds too good to be true.

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That screams scam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First, guitar stock is not cut as cordwood.

Second, wood cannot be graded while still a living tree.

Third, the scam is he will pay you for several cords(too many) and tell you to cash the check and send him the overage. The check will clear, you hand him $XXXXXX and two weeks later, the check bounces and the back wants the full amount.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 7:03AM
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And do know how many guitars could be made from a CORD if you could get that much suitable maple? That's like a lifetime supply of wood for a luthier.

I agree with handymac. It's a scam.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Lumber for making things is not sold by the cord.

Firewood is sold by the cord.

Lumber for making things is sold by the board foot (even in log form).

I have a ruler that is used to convert the diameter of round logs into board feet.
Al you need to do is take the reading from the ruler and multiply by the length of the log in feet.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Thanks all for your feedback. We checked out the fellow's company on the internet and links on it and it seems legit. Also, the trees are so far back on our huge property, we didn't even know they are there. I think he used the word "cord" as a rough estimate for us as we are not versed with firewood or lumber terms. He will pick and choose what is suitable for him and leave the rest as firewood. He is paying in cash. I still haven't found out if $3000 per cord is the going rate for maple suitable guitar construction.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Definition of a 'cord' of wood(FIREWOOD)

Although there are many names associated with a cord of wood, the legal definition of a cord of firewood in the US and Canada, is a full or bush cord, which measures 4' wide x 4' high x 8' long and is 128 cubic feet in volume.

Chords of firewood sell from $75 to %250---per chord. Not $3000.

Other names not defined by statutes for a stack of firewood are a face or rick cord which often refers to a stack of wood 4' high x 8' long and on the average about 16" wide, or the size of the firewood pieces.

Therefore a face or rick cord is usually much smaller and could even be half of a full or bush cord.

Another wood stack measure is a sheldon cord, which varies in size and is often bigger than a full cord.

I have zero idea of what he is trying to say. The word chord has no meaning in selling lumber for use in building anything. Cordwood is cut in lengths suitable to put into a woodstove or fireplace---about 24" long. It is usually split at least in quarters if not more pieces.

Those pieces are good ONLY for burning.

Find out what he means by the word chord. Lumber buyers and firewood sellers use the correct terminology for their respective areas and do NOT interchange the terms.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 8:01PM
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It still reeks. Mostly because he doesn't sound like someone who is used to buying wood for guitars. They normally buy from people who have already cut and dried the lumber. He sounds more like a guitar maker who thinks he's found a shortcut that will save money.

If he's paying "$3,000 per cord" only for the bits that are suitable for him ... then it's going to take down some huge trees and leave you with a pile of cheap firewood, some nasty tracks and trash on your property, and not much cash.

How is he going to determine suitability for guitars? Normally the trees are cut into manageable lengths, split into rough boards, dried, then graded and sorted. Who will decide suitability? And who has control of the wood and pays for the processing?

There are lumber buyers who will buy individual trees of desirable lumber species, but they usually bid for the "standing tree", the whole tree.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:39AM
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Adding - even if he turns out to be a legitimate lumber buyer, the contract of sale MUST include the plan for getting in to where the trees are, cutting them and removing them. It MUST include how the approach to the trees will be made, specifying the route, and who cleans up and repairs any damage to the terrain.

I have heard horror stories of people who sold a couple of large valuable trees and were left with huge rutted areas where a bulldozer cleared the way for the tree cutting and moving equipment.

And, BTW, keep an eye on the trees. They have been known to vanish.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:44AM
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Many of the less reputable firewood sellers love to play games.

A 'cord is 4 ft x 4 ft x 8 ft, split lumber.

A face cord' is 2 ft x 4 ft x 8 ft.

2 foot long is a little large for may fireplaces, so having 16 inch pieces works well.
Three rows of 16 inch splits will get you 48 inches.
Now pile them up 4 ft high and 8 feet long.
You now have one cord.

There used to be all sorts of legal descriptions for how tightly the wood was stacked.

The most colorful one I remember was "loose enough for the squirrel to get through, but tight enough the cat chasing could not get through."

This post was edited by brickeyee on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 10:48

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Hi all,
Thanks for all your concern. We love how the Gardeweb community comes together to look out for each other. We took all your comments into consideration and appreciate all your help.

We want to report to you that everything went well with the tree cutting. The fellows came and cut the first tree and are coming back to finish up. Their company is totally legit. To be cautious we drafted a waiver letter which they signed. They also asked us to photocopy their insurance papers. Everything was done very professionally. They came with an all terrain vehicle with a trailer. They cut the wood into blocks of a particular length and various thicknesses. the length suitable of guitar construction. Then the wood is taken to be processed - dried, trimmed and milled, etc. before it can be used. They explained to us how the lot of wood is measured, in a very professional manner, and we were paid for what was taken.

Our property is a huge undeveloped piece of land with no worries about damage to the terrain.

Thanks again everyone. It was a very educational process for us.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:35AM
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Glad it went well.

For $3000 a cord I'd take the money and run.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Many speciaty woods are sold by the cord. yellow birch for aircraft vinear,ash for tool handles, birds eye maple for furniture, white birch for spool wood. Most are turned on a lathe not sawed to better follow the grain. The specs are very tight( 10" top, no knots or bumps, no more than 1 1/2 " heart wood). We had to cut a lot of trees take 1 or 2 sticks and set aside to get a load of the high priced stuff. We cut about 100 cord of logs, pulp and firewood a week. the good stuff was about 5 cord a month. It still was a good spiff.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Just to add to the general knowledge of this thread. 128 cubic feet of wood is 1536 board feet. Basically, the offer was roughly $2 BF for the wood. An good price for instrument grade maple would be in the $10 to $12 range once dried and processed, and speaking from experience a lot can go wrong when drying and processing and the waste can be significant. I would say the price you were paid on the stump was a fair price.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:02PM
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"128 cubic feet of wood is 1536 board feet"

It depends on how the wood is cut(or split) and stacked fpr the cord.

A cord is not solid wood.
It has gaps and holes.

It is not a simple volume conversion.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Brickeyee, yes it is a simple volume conversion. I said 128 cubic feet of wood equals 1536 board feet. I said nothing about how it was cut or stacked.

To further my point, instrument grade wood is cut a certain way, not pie shaped or round like you would cut firewood. I have cut instrument grade cedar a long time ago. I believe the minimum size was a squared bolt 3" thick x 9" wide x 24" long. This was for export to Spain for guitars. I've seen maple in the woods that has been cut for instrument wood and it was cut in similar fashion although I do not know the exact dimensions. So, yes, the wood can be stacked very tightly and it would not be unreasonable to approach a gross 1500 bf in a stacked cord of instrument grade wood. In fact, if the wood we cut was not stacked as tightly as possible, we ran the risk of the whole load being rejected.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:40PM
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A Guitar cord runs between the output and the amp. Unless it's a power chord.
Building guitars can augment your income in a major way. Even if their are minor considerations like proper jigs and fixtures for luthier work, I don't want to diminish what you're trying to do.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Having Built guitars myself. Its not an unreasonable amount to pay for a lot of quality wood, older the growth the better Ive Paid as much and 250 for a single piece 2x14x24 for Maple tone wood. the better the figure the higher the money it commands. if they gave all the documentation. I think they see it as an inexpensive investment what could be a huge profit for them

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 3:03PM
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" yes it is a simple volume conversion."

No it is not.

Board feet are solid cut wood, unlike cords that are split stacked wood (for firewood).

I have a nice grading stick that will turn round wood into a board foot estimate, but it would be pretty tough for cord wood given the vagaries of stacking.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:29PM
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