Yew

A friend is having a Yew tree pruned, and will save me any lengths he can salvage. I know that it’s a heavy softwood, and the most poisonous of English woods. What’s the view on seasoning it and using  for guitar making, or shall I keep it for turning?
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  • tone1tone1 Frets: 1210
    I thought they’d caught another one in the operation.... B)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1561
    edited January 12
    I don't know about seasoning, but it's a nice wood to work and can produce a beautiful result.  

    My main gigging guitar has a yew top and it still looks, 6 years later, like this fresh-built shot:


    It is, on the other hand, highly poisonous (in terms of ingestion and respiratory risk) and you have to wear a dust mask for any sanding and routing, and be pretty scrupulous with your dust down and clean down to make sure you don't inadvertently end up chewing on any router or chiselling chips.

    I didn't personally notice any particularly issues with skin sensitivity but you should check it out on one of the many databases before using it and, clearly, stop immediately if you suffer any reaction.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1385
    @Andyjr1515 I presume you made that yourself? How much does it weigh? Several sites I’ve looked at suggest that Yew turns out quite heavy.
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  • SporkySporky Frets: 11341
    There was a guy on the UKGB forum who did a lot with yew - some lovely bits of wood, but as Andy says, be very careful working with it.
    Never forget that you are wearing your invisible tiara.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1561
    Roland said:
    @Andyjr1515 I presume you made that yourself? How much does it weigh? Several sites I’ve looked at suggest that Yew turns out quite heavy.
    Medium weight, in my experience.  Just weighed this one and it is 7.5lbs ready to play.  Can't remember if there is any chambering in it (don't think so) and it is pretty much strat thickness and size and sapele back so no great weight-saving tricks in the build.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1561
    Roland said:
    @Andyjr1515 I presume you made that yourself? How much does it weigh? Several sites I’ve looked at suggest that Yew turns out quite heavy.
    Medium weight, in my experience.  Just weighed this one and it is 7.5lbs ready to play.  Can't remember if there is any chambering in it (don't think so) and it is pretty much strat thickness and size and sapele back so no great weight-saving tricks in the build.
    Just found my old build photos.  There's a shallow chamber in the sapele back, about the size of a control chamber on the rear upper bout.  The yew doesn't have any chambering in it.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1385
    I feel a Yew faced guitar coming in 2019. It will take that long at least to season a panel, longer if I go for a solid block body. Maybe I’ll do a hollowbody with a Yew top.
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