Thursday, August 30, 2012

Germany is Cool!

OK, besides the beer, Oktoberfest, the shoe dance and Neuschwanstein, there is more awesomeness to Germany...


I have recently purchased and watched Larry Williams' DVD , decided to get a few planemaker's tools and build some hollows and rounds.

First step is to find some lumber.

Those of you Americans still living in the US will envy those of us Americans living over here in Europe.  Beech is the traditional wood of choice for molding planes, and getting proper beech quarter-sawn is not so easy, or cheap to find in the US (at least according to what y'all are writing on the internet).

Here, it is everywhere, inexpensive, and looked at as the kind of wood you use when you can't afford something better.

The lumber yard I go to here in Munich is a huge place, with zillions of board feet of lumber.  Actually, they don't measure anything in board feet, so it can be difficult to know how much to get.  Lumber is sold in cubic meters.

I've come to just go there, and buy some boards and hope that is enough.  They have been patient with me as I go through the whole stack, and go so far as to lay out my project on the rough lumber to determine how much I need.  This is followed by them cutting it up in lengths that will fit in my VW Golf, and going to pay with a feeling of dread when they tell me it is 1500 EUROs per cubic meter.

Anyway, I went there the other day to get a nice board to make a set of hollows and rounds.  I figured I would get beech, but decided to ask if they happened to have apple or pear wood just because.  "Indeed," the salesman said, "we have both."  He proceeded to take me to view all the lumber I could comprehend.

You poor US-Amerikaners.  You have never seen so many different kinds of beech.  There was enough perfect beech available to replace every plane ever made.  I picked out a nice 6/4 board that the salesman said would run about 20-25 EUROs.

Somehow, I wanted to see the fruitwood, too.  Beech has such a connotation of every-day-ness here that I thought I owed it to them.

We first looked at apple.  There were a few nice flitches there, and I pointed to the center of the stack to look at a nice board from the middle of the tree.  He said that this board would be too unstable, therefore unsuitable.

Oh-well, lets move on.

We got to the pear, and I was in love.  52 mm thick (8/4 or so), and a beautiful quarter-sawn board about two meters long.  A perfect length to keep from breaking the windshield in the Golf (DAMHIKT).

This wood is absolutely gorgeous.  Larry mentions it in the DVD as perfectly suitable for planes, so off I went.

The salesman said it was expensive, about three times the price of beech.  I figured, "what the heck!"  knowing that this board probably had enough lumber to make two full sets.

It turns out that 1500 EUROs per cubic meters translates to about 3.50 EUROs per board/foot.  Or (in American), $4.50 per board/foot.  Not too bad.

This means that the beech I saw was only a dollar or two per board foot.  I think I will be making a lot of planes in the future.


  1. Please Brian.

    Could we have a picture of the lumberyard or at least of the pear wood?
    I have once used some apple wood when turning, and once it heats up it smells really good, kind of like a warm summerday mixed with apple blossom.
    I suspect pear is the same.

  2. Wow, Bripes...this is impressive...can't wait to see pictures. Did you go to the October Fest??? You are amazing taking your hobby to a whole new level..very exciting.

  3. Oktoberfest is in September. It's August. I've been banned. Ask Uncle Dan.

  4. We want photos, photos, photos and more photos :-)