This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  zorro 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #1673


    I posted a question on “That Other” Forum about Chantoyance. As usual there was a lot of comments but few answers as to The How ,Why and when of Chantoyance.
    All of my SCGC guitars show vivid and very dimensional chantoyance while my much loved 25 year old Martin show none.
    Why ??/ Is it the woods themselves or the nitro versus laquer finish? the way the wood is cut?
    The Martin is very nice EIR while the SCs are Braz, Madi ,”Tree Hog” and Maple.
    Does the wood have to be highly figured to show Chantoyance ?
    As an moderately good wildlife photographer I would like to know so I can use the info to set up some shots to capture the beautiful effect.

  • #1675


    I think it’s generally believed that it results from trees growing under stress that cause the grain of the wood to grow back on itself in a wave form. This creates a 3D appearance as light strikes the variable grain angle. It’s common in some wood, maple being an example.

    – Paul –

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by  haasome.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by  haasome.
  • #1760


    I think it also has to do with how close to truly quartersawn the material is – its not uncommon to see it in perfectly quartered sitka, which frequently was cut from very large diameter trees with little to no rotation in the trunk,  but is hard to see evenly in adirondack tops as the trees are much harder to find large enough and straight enough to get the same cut (plus adirondack tends to favor a bit more spiral growth) –

    In b&s material, you find many species don’t tend to show it, and in the few that might, its harder to find material cut from trunks large enough or cut to show it off – true quartersawing can be a bit wasteful, which is ok with softwoods where the smaller pieces still have use as braces, but the far more costly and smaller rosewoods and such tend to get cut for optimal yield –  going a few degrees off quarter and getting another set or two is almost always preferable to getting the perfect quartered cut just to show a little chatoyance –


    oops – just realized this was in the ask scgc section – pls move or delete as appropriate

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  tadol.
    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  tadol.
  • #1805

    Richard Hoover
    Senior Moderator

    Thank you Tadol and Hassome. You have us headed in the right direction!

    Zorro; here’s some links to expert knowledge on Chatoyance, especially the last one. You know my promise to stick to scientific conclusion and repeatable experimentation, rather than opinion. So, instead of me issuing an “opinion alert”, let’s learn together through these experienced perspectives.                                                                                                                                                                   Or, here in The New Wood Finishing Book by Michael Dresdner.                                                             Michael is the definitive source for woodworking and finish science. He’s devoted a life time to his work and contributed to our craft as a founding member of The American Society of Stringed Instrument Artisans. 

    For everyone: Put “Michael Dresdner” into your search engine for an instant bibliography on valuable and trustworthy knowhow for all things wood, finish, technique and lutherie.

    All the best,                                                                                                                                                                                         Richard



    • #1814


      Thank you Richard….excellent help as always.

  • #1806

    Matt Hayden

    Yes indeed – Michael Dresdner  is a super-authority.  His “Woodfinishing Book” was published when I was working as a freelancer for an editor at Taunton Press in 1992, and it was authoritative of its type then – and it’s gotten better in subsequent editions.  He was, AIR, also involved with Tacoma and Guild.

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