Wood Wisdom: Madrone - High Spirits Flutes

Wood Wisdom: Madrone

Publié le juillet 10, 2023 par Mindy Mellenbruch

Sourced from the madrone tree (Arbutus menziesii), madrone wood carries an irresistible allure. Found along the western coastal regions from British Columbia to California, this towering tree reaches impressive heights of 50-80 feet with trunk diameters of 2-3 feet.

With its cream or pinkish-brown color and occasional dark red patches, madrone wood presents a captivating visual appeal. The wood's burl veneer, characterized by tightly-packed clusters of knots and swirled grain, further enhances its beauty. As madrone wood ages, it gracefully fades, creating sought-after pattern transitions.

Madrone wood stands out for its exceptional tonal quality, making it ideal for crafting flutes. Its clear, defined sound produces clean, high notes and a smooth voice in the lower register.

Craftsmen appreciate madrone for its workability, making it easy to shape and carve using both hand and machine tools, similar to Hard Maple. However, drying can be challenging due to its tendency to warp or twist. Madrone is used in furniture making, commonly as decorative veneer, adding sophistication to cabinetry, and finely-crafted items. The wood's density and fine grain make it suitable for turning objects, while its burn qualities also make it valuable as firewood and charcoal.  Despite its value and occasional expense, madrone wood remains a sustainable option for conscientious craftsmen.

Discovered by Scottish botanist Archibald Menzies during the George Vancouver Expedition in 1792, the species was named Arbutus menziesii in his honor.

Native Americans recognized the value of the madrone tree beyond its wood. They consumed the berries raw or cooked, often chewing them or making them into cider due to their astringent properties. The berries were also used for crafting necklaces, decorations, and as fishing bait. The bark and leaves served as remedies for stomach aches, cramps, skin ailments, and sore throats, often brewed into a medicinal tea.

Madrone wood is a true standout. Its exceptional tonal quality, captivating visual appeal, and versatility make it a top choice among craftsmen. Whether you're shaping flutes, refining furniture, or fashioning decorative pieces, madrone wood consistently delivers impressive results.