We'll start off with the boring technical stuff and then go from there.
Red Ivory or what is more commonly know as Pink Ivory. And no, it's not from the tusk of a Pink Elephant. Called "the royal wood of the Zulus" because of its importance in local customs. Native to South Africa otherwise named Berchemia Zeyheri. Distribution occurs from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa and scattering in other parts of southern Africa.The Tree varies in height from under 20 ft. The flowers are small and greenish-yellow in color. The fruits are small black berries.The wood is uniformly bright pink or pale red. The luster is low, and odor and taste are not distinct. It is hard and heavy.The grain is straight to irregular, while the texture is very fine. The sapwood is almost white, and the pink heartwood, after long exposure, tends to become orange-colored or orange-brown. Red Ivory seasons very slowly and needs care to prevent checking. It is very strong and stiff. It is difficult to work with hand tools, but is an excellent wood for turnery and carving. It takes a high polish. Red Ivory cannot be considered a commercial timber because the trees are scattered as to make exploitation a costly process. The small quantities that are felled are used for fancy articles, inlaid work, small turned goods, and carving.
Here we photo a truly rare site. This is about as good as it gets. Here we have an exceptional two hundred pound log of highly prized and exceedingly rare Red Ivory. This particular log is more red than pink. You can see how deep the red is on the ends where we've sealed it with shelac. That will also give an idea on the quality of colour when cues are produced. This log will produce many exceptional pieces.
This particular piece has been sawed into 1.5" planks as per our needs. This log was chosen from some of the finest Red Ivory currently available through one of our sources who imports it directly from Africa. Only years of building relations can produce contacts such as we have developed. As such, we get to choose only the finest specimens for use in building cues and sale of fine woods to others.
This log will yield many premium long (length is even rarer) squares for forearms and butt sleeves as well as inlay material, points, rings and billets. Of course there will be much waste too due to some checking, defects and sap wood. This particular piece will be placed in our wood storage warehouse and will not see daylight for many, many years.
Which brings us to another important issue; daylight. Red Ivory as with all exotic wood should never be placed where it is exposed to daylight and its nasty untraviolet rays. Dark is best.
Now, the question.... do you buy logs, lumber or squares for building cues? If you have the experience in purchasing logs, then by all means do so. However, most do not have the expertise to do so on their own and we do discourage it. When buying logs, you can expect about a 20-25% (+-) yield depending on species and quality. Yes, you can save considerably and have all sorts of scrap left over as well as the exceptional pieces. Then, let's not forget the waste too. However, the odds are very much against you when buying logs. You really have to know what you're doing and know who you're dealing with. Additionally, you need to know costs for woods at all stages otherwise you'll bury yourself.
You can also buy lumber which is basically the 1.5" planks that you see in the photo's here. Once again, lumber is for the experienced who know how to cut it to maximize the yield. And, not all planks are created equal. The price/quality correlation is important and you have to know the ratio and current market values.
Red Ivory sells for anywhere from $7 to as high as $25 a pound. Now, this is not etched in stone or anything but it's a good ballpark. Some even sell it by the inch at $5 or more (for 1.5" square material). Obviously, price is dependent on quality, size and moisture content. Red Ivory is one of the most expensive, scarce and highly prized woods available today. Buying logs requires large investments and time, time, time to age the wood properly before it can be used. Of course the most fun is with the logs but unless you have knowledge, money, dedication and patience -- logs are not the way to go.
You can purchase very nice squares which is the recommended method for building cues. Of course you need a good supplier too. :-)
We have tonage of Red Ivory (it's one of our favourites) in stock which has been aging since 1990. This example is one of our latest purchases and we have much more of it coming in due to the high quality. And that's another thing.... when you are offered exceptional woods; by all means break the bank to buy it as you may never see that quality or have access to it again. When it comes to quality woods, buy, buy, buy.
You can never have enough wood. :-)
Our favourite woods are Red Ivory, Ebony, Brazilian Rosewood, Cocobolo, Blackwood, Olive Wood, Zircote, Bocote and a host of other exotic woods. Burls are coming into their own today due to many cue builders utilizing these woods with the use of coring them out and placing laminated dowels inside to strengthen this otherwise fragile wood. That's a whole other subject which will be covered in greater detail in another section.
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