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Examination of Wood Properties of Plantation-Grown Pernambuco (Caesalpinia Echinata)

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Caesalpinia echinata (pernambuco or pau-brasil), is recognized as the premier wood for manufacturing stringed instrument bows. Owing to limited supplies and concerns regarding species survival, interest exists in establishing pernambuco plantations to provide future bow-quality wood. For native forest- and plantationgrown woods we examined several wood properties considered important in determining bow quality including basic density, modulus of elasticity (MOE), modulus of rupture (MOR) measured using static bending samples, air-dry density, microfibril angle (MFA), and stiffness using SilviScan. Color, extractives content and loss tangent (tan δ) were measured for a subsample of the static bending samples. Finally, the samples were also ranked based on their potential for manufacturing high-quality bows (0 = poor, 1 = good and 2 = excellent) by an experienced bow maker. No evidence of differences between means for density, MOE and MOR for native, and 25- and 30-year-old plantation-grown pernambuco was observed; however, when sorted based on quality, the excellent group had higher density, MOE and MOR. MFA and tan δ were low, especially for native forest samples. Extractive contents were low for plantation samples; 5.7% and 12.7% respectively for the 25- and 30-year-old samples, compared to the native forest samples (set 1 = 23%, set 2 = 22.5 %) and few samples had heartwood. Overall, plantation-grown samples provided promising results in terms of their quality.


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