|Koa (Acacia Koa)
Koa is the best known of the
endemic Hawaiian woods. It is recognized world wide for it's
remarkable variety of grain figure which ranges from plain, to
curly, to deep fiddleback. The color can go from reds to
chocolate browns, with the sap wood sometimes even a bleached
white. The grain is fine and the texture medium coarse, but it
is the figuring that sets Koa into a class of it's own.
Chatoyancy is a property that is
usually attributed to certain gems, the cats eye effect or shimmer
which gives a senseof depth in the gem. This property can also be
used to describe some of the more dramatic pieces of curly,
tigerstripe and fiddleback Koa. This figuring gives the
wood a three dimensional quality; and depending on from what angle
one views the wood, it can take on several completely different
In pre-western contact times Koa
was used to build canoes, spears and paddles. The canoes were
carved out of a single tree, which was carefully chosen,
spiritually and physically for the purpose. Today Koa is
valued for furniture, guitars, boxes, paneling and bowl turning.
It is interesting to note that Hawaiians of earlier times did not
use it for bowls or platters because of an unpleasant flavor
associated with the wood.
The trees grow successfully from
1500' to about 6000' in elevation and are very sensitive to
grazing animals. Koa leaves change totally in appearance
from seedling to older growth. They start out as lacy, divided
leaves and then fuse into a single sickle shaped leaf. Koa
is currently on the endangered species register due to concerns
about the habitat it provides for endangered native Hawaiian
All the Koa that David uses
in his creations comes from standing deadfalls. Also, his pieces
are designed to make maximum use of the wood, with minimal waste.