A box of Koa - Not a Koa Box #1: Introductions

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Blog entry by sras posted 11-27-2010 06:20 PM 5103 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of A box of Koa - Not a Koa Box series Part 2: The first project - Board #2 »

Last spring, we had the pleasure of spending some time in Hawaii. I am not usually interested in collecting souvenirs. However, there was a store there called the Koa Store which had lots of items made from Koa, but also had a selection of Koa lumber. That got my interest! The pieces ranged from straight grained all the way to premium curly. Premium Curly Koa is expensive!

One of the choices they offered was a boxed set of pre selected lumber. I asked about buying individual pieces out the box – the polite reply was “No, the box is to be sold as is”. I said I would have to think about it. The advice I got was to not take too long as woodwrokers snap these up. There were three boxes of wood to choose from.

I called my local supplier of imported lumber and asked about the price. I was told that the prices were in line and that premium curly Koa is hard to find. When asked what I planned to build I said “I have no idea, but the wood is really pretty.

I went back the next day and there was only one box left. Lucky for me, it had the pieces that most interested me. The box was a FedEx shipping box. All I had to do was pay and give my address – the wood arrived about a week after we got home.

ANYWAY – this blog series is one where I will share what happens to each piece. It will be a very slow story, but I thought it might be fun to see what happens to each of these pieces over time. This entry is where you get to meet all the members.

First up is Board #1 – a piece of curly Koa that measures 1.125×1.75×10.5 inches

Board #2 is 1.125×3.75×10.75 – also curly. This one I have plans for and will the the subject of the next blog entry.

Board #3 is curly Koa and measures 2×2x10.75. This is a piece that has me pondering as to what it should become. I’m thinking sawn veneers. Now I need a reason for them…

Number 4 measures 2.125×3x10.75 – also curly Koa. This one has nice grain on all 4 faces – not sure what will happen here.

This next one (#5) is slated to become a frame. It measures 2×2.75×10.75 inches. It is a bit of a challenge to come up with a frame design that looks right when the length is only 10.75.

Number 6 has me stumped. It is one of the reasons why I was attracted to this particular set. It measures 2×2.75×10.75. The grain wraps beautifully around the piece. It was graded as “curly” but I would have called it “premium curly”. I showed it to a friend of mine and he suggested polishing it and putting it on a stand! I am open to suggestions on this one in particular.

Board #7 is 2.125×2.75×10 – also graded curly.

Board #8 is the only piece graded premium curly. It measures 2×2.75×11. Here is another challenge to find the right use for this. The grain is really intense on this one. I am currently thinking veneers for drawer fronts on a jewelry chest, but I am not sure I am comfortable losing the view of grain on all 4 sides. Still pondering…

Well, that is the whole team – next up will be the transformation of Board #2. Any ideas on how to best use these pieces is welcome!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

15 comments so far

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3033 days

#1 posted 11-27-2010 06:28 PM

Gorgeous wood Steve I think when undecided wait for the right project to dictate how you cut it. Although I had a similar situation with some maple so I cut a couple of veneers to bookmatch off the deepest side then rolled it over 90 degrees & sliced the whole of the rest that way I had examples of all the faces I liked. But Koa is quite precious isn’t it?
Hope you make good choices

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3092 days

#2 posted 11-27-2010 06:32 PM

Thanks Trevor! It is going to be a tricky balance. I want to make sure I have a good use for a piece before I commit to it. On the other hand, I do not want to let these pieces jsut sit in the shipping box for the next 20 years. I have some wood that I have had for that long and it gets to the point that I forget I have them.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Benji Reyes's profile

Benji Reyes

330 posts in 3041 days

#3 posted 11-27-2010 06:39 PM

Nice array of curly koa Steve. I always love rounding edges of curly wood. it gives the grain a sense of continuity and flow around a finished piece. what to do with it? I would contemplate on a design 10 times before cutting once! Can’t wait to see what you do with it buddy!

-- Benji Reyes, Antipolo, Philippines,

View shipwright's profile


7965 posts in 2761 days

#4 posted 11-27-2010 06:44 PM

Nice score Steve. On the last piece, if you want to keep both grains as in the original piece for drawer fronts, you could slice one veneer off the back, one off the front and then one off the top. That would give perfect corner matches, or two off the front and one off the top for almost perfect but matching fronts. Man, you’ve got lots of fun planning to do.

I’ll be watching.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3092 days

#5 posted 11-27-2010 07:07 PM

Thanks Benji – Rounded edges is a great suggestion! Taking that to the extreme would be to do a turning. I find myself often pondering a turning for #6 but have not gotten the right inspiration yet.

Paul – I really like the idea of slicing veneers each side. One result would be progessively smaller veneers which would set up for a series of progressively smaller drawer fronts! That has got me thinking… Thanks!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3233 days

#6 posted 11-27-2010 07:27 PM

Beautiful wood….Koa is such eye candy. That size is about right for boxes, frames or inlays. A couple of those pieces would make beautiful pens also. You can also segment some beautiful turnings from those also. I made a trivet out of glued up Koa pen blanks and gave it to a friend of mine….his wife loves it….she said she would love to have her whole kitchen done in Koa (until I told her how expensive that would be – she said she still would love it….but only after they win the lotto).

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3092 days

#7 posted 11-27-2010 07:34 PM

Good ideas reggiek – Segmented turnings have really caurght my eye. One of the benefits to LJs is seeing all the different kinds of projects people have done. I would want to do a practice project before I committed the Koa to that! I have several scraps that could be made into pen blanks. The Koa would be another reason to get set up for that.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View ellen35's profile


2734 posts in 3395 days

#8 posted 11-27-2010 09:24 PM

I have a koa frame around a map of the Hawaiian Islands. It is some of the most beautiful wood I have seen.
You scored bigtime!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3092 days

#9 posted 11-27-2010 09:38 PM

Thanks Ellen – I knew I was in trouble once I found out this store sold raw lumber. It never occurred to me that I would come back with koa as a souvenir! I’ll be posting the results of the first board shortly…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3297 days

#10 posted 11-27-2010 09:41 PM

Fantastic wood Steve. It will be interesting to see what you come up with.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3092 days

#11 posted 11-27-2010 09:43 PM

Good to hear from you Mike! I’m interested as well ;)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3004 days

#12 posted 11-27-2010 09:50 PM

Nice find. I do love the koa.

View degoose's profile


7228 posts in 3317 days

#13 posted 11-27-2010 10:16 PM

What a great selection of fine timber..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2937 days

#14 posted 11-28-2010 04:14 AM

Dang, I needed to read this last week when I was in Hawaii looking for Koa. I would have ordered it from your source on Kauai….hoping the internet guy I ordered from is on the up and up. Koa is absolutely gorgeous and it was everywhere at the resort we stayed at Koolina, Oahu. I spent as much time gawking at woodwork and carvings as I did the beach.
I found a Woodcraft store in Honolulu, but they only had huge boards and the guy was too busy hitting on some chick to talk with me and my son so I bailed.
Thanks for the other Koa source.

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3092 days

#15 posted 11-28-2010 05:09 AM

Larry & Bill – I have to agree, these are some of my favorite pieces.

Scott – I feel comfortable recommending this source. Their selection was not huge, but have a nice range from smaller to larger pieces. Also, thier finished products show they know how to make good use of it!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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