Ebony (and other exotic wood) alternatives

I’ve got a couple of pieces of ebony I’ve been saving for various special projects (one is just the right size for a small guitar fretboard), but supplies are drying up.

This was suggested as an alternative:

anyone had occasion to try it? Seems to be a new version of Micarta.

The other material I want to try is:


There are a few videos available with luthiers shaping Rocklite, which comes in ebony and indian rosewood varieties. It’s stable, made of wood, and suitable for fretboards, bridges and headstock covers.

Not sure of US availability, though.


1 Like

Ebony has certain properties but is more and more scares. Have you considered using maple and ebonizing it. There are dyes, stains and other methods used to blacken maple and other wood like holly. Maybe instead of using something untried you use a common wood like maple, poplar or holly and simply color the wood.

1 Like

Oh hey, I’ve been meaning to take a look at hempwood for a bit now.
foureyes did a project a while ago. Didn’t talk much about working with it, but didn’t look too bad or overly complicated.

Pretty sure video starts at relevant section.
1 Like

I’ve ebonized red oak in the past:


I want ebony for a couple of intricate projects which I expect to see regular handling and I don’t think other materials will wear as nicely or develop the wonderful patina which ebony will. Probably I’ll just pay whatever Woodcraft wants for a couple of pieces the next time I’m in there.

I need to get some holly for some projects as well, but haven’t looked into it yet. I think I’ve seen it on sale at Woodcraft in the past, and need to find time to travel to Hearne’s Hardwoods once things are back to normal.

That is a very nice case. How did you construct the case. I have several things I need to make cases for and recently bought some 1/8 inch Baltic birch plywood I may try to make the cases with.

1 Like


I made it w/ hand cut dovetails and 1/8" grooves top/bottom for red oak plywood from D&D Plywood, then cut it apart w/ a handsaw (this was pre-Shapeoko and the project which nudged me over to the idea of getting a CNC by way of finding a Bridgeport for less than scrap metal value which wouldn’t fit in my basement).

I think there are photos showing my making the prototype on archerytalk.com

If you’ll let us know the dimensions you want for the case we’ll gladly try to work up files for it. Do you want to use 1/8" plywood for everything, or just the top/bottom? What sort of joinery do you wish to do?

Hey @WillAdams I know you aren’t too far away but theres a guy in Sykesville MD that has random stuff and different holly boards is one of the things he has. That may be a bit of a haul, but not sure.

1 Like