Part 2 ~ Hinoki Cypress – Port Orford Cedar- Lawson Cypress

I’m writing about the guitar making process on my website blog. I’m using Hinoki which is a Japanese Cypress which promises to make excellent flamenco guitars. The Hinoki is a cypress native to Japan and it grows all up and down the archipelago. It’s very similar to Lawson Cypress AKA Port Orford Cedar.

A look at botanical class:
Port Orford Cedar- Lawson Cypress and Hinoki share the same botanical classification right down to Genus, Chamaecyparis, then split into two distinct species.

Kingdom: Plants
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Chamaecyparis
Species: C. lawsoniana

Hinoki – Chamaecyparis obtusa:

Lawson Cypress – Chamaecyparis lawsonia

They share a similar Topogragical range, they both grow in the same latitudes on the East and West sides of the Pacific Rim. The Hinoki Cypress does flourish for about 800 miles farther south than the Lawson species.

I think it is a wood worth having a look at because Port Orford Cedar has been a very successful wood for making flamenco guitars and I expect no less from the Hinoki. In my area it can be found commonly in many lumber yards, but finding aged timber that is big enough to build guitars from is difficult. You have to search and be choosy, but the rewards are worth it.

I have also cut down a Hinoki tree and quartered the logs with a chainsaw. The tree had been standing dead for 12 years, but since Hinoki is like Lawson Cypress, full of bug resisting chemicals, the interior of a standing tree is not subject to the same kind of rotting and degrading that other trees may have. When we sawed this tree open we found it to have pristine, dry, non greyed wood from the outer layers to the center.

This felled wood has been dimensioned to air dry further, 12 years in the open air is along time, but a complete tree can’t fully dry…or at least I’m not taking any chances. This wood will dry in guitar dimensional form for at least a few years before I build with it.

When the rainy season is over I have plans to search for a larger Hinoki in the mountains. I am trying to find a tree a diameter of one meter across to render backs and sides for guitars and cellos. If I find one and cut it down I’ll document it with photos and share them.

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