Casuarina fraserana| Tonewood Profile | “Western Sheoak”
[Ed.- read more about this and other Australian Tonewoods in Jack Spira’s fantastic article… here!]
Western Sheoak is an erect dioecious with a limited range in South West Autralis from Perth to Albany. It attains heights of 15m in it’s woodland and open forest habitat.
Named after the botanist, Charles Fraser, the first specimen was collected in 1840 by Johann Priess.
Priess was a German born botanist and zoologist who between 1838-42 collected over about 200,000 plant specimens in Western Australia. Charles Fraser was also a famous botanist, based in New South Wales, Australia. How Fraser, who is blamed for the failure of the Swan River expedition due to inaccurate reporting of soil conditions had this species names after him and not Priess is not clear.
Western Sheoak has a limited range but is not widely exploited although it is now gaining popularity for turning and decorative uses due to it’s broad prominent medullary rays.
The timber is a deep red colour with an even and fine grain. It exhibits a large medullary ray figure which can be very attractive.
Western Sheoak has a Janka rating of around 1900 and a Specific Gravity around 0.8.
As a tonewood…
It’s use has been limited to the Australian builders but bends well and works as a back and sides wood.
Jack Spira says:”The W A sheoak on the other hand seems a perfect density, is easy to work and bends well. I have found a marked difference in sound between the well quarter sawn backs, which have the broad medullarys going right across. “
My experience with sheoak is that the tone is much like a vintage mahogany with very open overtones.
Jack Spira again: “ Guitars with well quartered sheoak backs have a lot of volume and projection, quite bright, but not as many overtones as blackwood I think, so a more woody, less metallic brightness. The guitars with Sheoak backs sawn on the rift, or the beautiful lace figured ones with grain going everywhere seem to make quieter, more polite sounding instruments.“
Limited sources in southwest Australia.
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