Making Matters: In praise of cypress


The wood of the cypress tree can seem like an unusual alternative for spruce, but both its figure and relative density make it a desirable option. Alan Beavitt explains why he has used it for several instruments

bout ten years ago I came across a large log from a recently felled Sawara cypress tree (chamaecyparis pisifera). I was immediately impressed by its lack of knots, straight grain, widely spaced annual growth rings and apparent low density.

Sawara cypress is native to Japan, but is widely grown in Europe and North America as an ornamental tree. This particular log was a sucker from an established mother tree (figure 1). Sawara cypress trees readily produce suckers, which grow very fast, and with few side branches – hence the lack of knots.

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