I took a much-needed break from the day job and walked down to Gilmer Wood Co. to price the wood for the instrument soundboard. This piece is very much like a guitar top - 1/8" thick and considered a "tonewood" - and you can actually rap on it when it's been sliced to determine the tone produced using an electronic tuner. The weather is beautiful today, so I snatched the opportunity to get out of the office and catch the tonewood dude out in the shop doing tonewood dude stuff.
When I reminded the tonewood dude that he asked me during a previous visit to return with specific measurements for the soundboard, he got a little annoyed because the nice spruce billets are buried high up on a rack that would require a forklift to maneuver around. Once I explained to him that I was there to 1) get out of the office for a bit and 2) simply price the wood, he settled down. Apparently, tonewood dudes can be a little touchy about actually doing their tonewood dude jobs.
Tonewood dude angst aside, it turns out I can purchase a 10' x 10" x 2" piece for $225. Because I need five 1/8" thick pieces five feet long, six inches wide, this means I can get enough soundboards out of the piece for two harpsichords because I will have them cut to 6' x 6" x 1/4" to start. Though this is a very good thing, I am left with two dilemmas. The first is how to transport a 10' x 10" x 2" piece of spruce in my Kia Rio and the second is how to get it sliced accurately. My original intent was to cut such pieces myself on my new band saw, but there is really no way I could cut a piece of that length without the blade floating around and making a general nuisance of itself.
Fortunately, Creative Woodworking NW on SE 10th and Taylor in our fair city (PDX) will slice and dice the billet any old way I want - for $60 per hour. This might sound like a lot, but it's really not that much to get smooth, accurate slices, especially for such a critical part of the instrument as the soundboard. It should take them no more than 30 minutes to do the work, costing me only $30 for the cuts. Combining this with the fact that the billet will yield four soundboards means I will be paying only $127.50 per soundboard. I don't know where you make your home, but in my neck of the woods, that ain't too shabby at all.
I'll keep you posted on how I solve the first dilemma: transporting the beast!