Didgeridoo Eucalptus woods


Didgeridoo Eucalyptus Woods

Eucalyptus wood

The eucayptus comes in more than 200 species. All of them originated in Australia. For traditional didgeridoo-making the ones below are used most of the time.


Stringy Bark Eucalyptus Didgeridoos

This is a semi-hardwood with a density of 8 on a scale from 1 to 12. It is the tree I use the most for didgeridoo making and it is very workable for making extended low and high-tone conical didgeridoos. Not in all regions of Australia does the stringy bark tree have the same characteristics as the ones I use for didgeridoo making. The name comes from the fact that you can pull the bark of the stem like a piece of rope. I believe the bark was used to tie things up. Also the termites eat in a cleaner way through the didgeridoo than in most eucalyptus trees. The wood is very dense and good for playing. The didgeridoos often come out in nice red colours with white bell bottoms.


Iron Bark Eucalyptus Didgeridoos

This is probably the hardest wood for didgeridoos, but maybe boxwood Eucalyptus didgeridoos will have the same wood density. This wood is so hard that it easily cracks. Often the didgeridoos of this Iron bark eucalyptus wood contain sap lines that are basically cracks already. The grain of the tree is more straight then woven, which also causes it to crack more easily. The bark is very dark, almost black, and falls off easily when taken off quickly after cutting the didgeridoo. The bark bottom didgeridoos are often made from this tree. Nowadays didgeridoo makers including myself have found a way of preventing the wood from splitting by using epoxy resin. This helps a lot and makes them very durable. The shape of a iron bark didgeridoo stem is often cylindrical. I have not experimented enough to make conical didgeridoos out of it. If you find a healthy patch or single tree it can be interesting to make didgeridoos out of this tree type because of the density of the wood. Only the result can be disappointing at times because the stem can also have unexpected holes that will come about in the final making process of the didgeridoo.


Bloodwood Eucalyptus Didgeridoos

The name bloodwood comes from the fact that the tree can actually bleed red resin. Often mistaken is that bloodwood didgeridoos are always dark red in color. They can as easy be white in colour (see light wood). And often stringy bark didgeridoos are mistaken for bloodwood didgeridoos because it often has a dark red colour. Although bloodwood didgeridoos do have the most beautiful red of all eucalyptus trees used for didgeridoos. Most characteristic of bloodwood didgeridoos is the nice black ‘bloodlines’ that make very playful patterns on the surface of the didgeridoo. A good maker brings them out when he takes the ‘meat’ off the didgeridoo.

Also the shape of the bloodwood trees can be very charming for making didgeridoos. They can have chunky bells and very characteristic flares that make the didgeridoo an ornament in itself with beautiful wood grains on the surface. It is one of my favourite trees for didgeridoo making. Although it is harder to come by and it does only grow in patches or here and there a single one in stringy bark didgeridoo country. One problem is often that the termites often leave double sleeves and chambers in the inner column of the didgeridoos. This can be disappointing when you came back with a nice cut of didgeridoos. The chance of making many top-quality ididgeridoos is less than with good stringy bark didgeridoo stems..

The grain of the bloodwood is woven and therefore very durable against spliting. When the outside of the didgeridoo is white and the inside red it will be even more durable. This counts for all eucalyptus didgeridoos. The sap wood protects the hardwood. The bark of the bloodwood trees look a bit like fish skin. The shape of bloodwood trees can be naturally conical with bends etc. In the past, the shop has sold many nice bloodwood didgeridoos with beautiful bells etc. Also very big examples of didgeridoos like the monster trunks didgeridoos have come through and of course the big bells and monster trunk didgeridoos are mainly bloodwood ecalyptus trees.


Mallee Wood Eucalyptus didgeridoos

This is a lighter type of eucalyptus didgeridoo tree that comes from the more southern and middle (not central like the desert) areas in Australia. It is not as dense as most of the trees used for didgeridoos and the wood is often light yellow in colour. The termites eat the inside out in a very clean way. Smooth as a baby’s bottom the Ozzies say. My first didge was made out of this wood. Nowadays I do not use it for making didgeridoos. But for the beginners range it is very good. It is also one of the easiest woods to work with. But impossible for extended conical didgeridoos and too light in density.


Boxwood Eucalyptus didgeridoos

Another favourite Eucalyptus wood of mine, but very hard to have good results with, is the box wood Eucalyptus didgeridoo. The didgeridoos are often very bendy and grow in scrubs and bushes. The density is the best of all woods and didgeridoos of this wood can produce very nice tearing sounds. It also has a woven grain and does not crack that quickly. The colour of the wood is a very nice red. They sometimes can have a natural conical shape. Another type of eucalyptus box is the river box that comes out more red and can even have bell bottoms. I do not know where this term comes from but I think it has to do with it that these trees grow closer by a river. The bark of the tree is often thin and grey in colour. Some people speak of ‘yellow box’ and ‘red box’ But that is just because they have either taken all the sap wood of the instrument so there is only hard red wood left, or the termite has not eaten all hardwood so when making the didgeridoo there is only sap wood left, which makes the didgeridoo look yellow in colour. Usually the flare will be yellow anyway. Read more about this in light wood didgeridoos in didgeridoo sounds.


Woolly Butt Eucalyptus didgeridoos (pink bloodwood)

Woolly butt eucalyptus didgeridoos got its name from the bark of the tree that has a woolly appearance. It does not really look like wool but it has a flaky surface with lots of little sharp pieces on it. You need gloves to carry or lift these stems. The trees can grow very long and straight. I used it for making extra long low and high-tone conical didgeridoos. On the outside, the wood looks very lumpy but for some reason this usually does not have an effect on the inner column of the didgeridoo. The grain of the wood is not as beautiful and strong as normal bloodwood didgeridoos. It is not a favourable wood of mine but very interesting for making extra long didgeridoos. The density varies. It is mainly softer than stringy bark didgeridoos and bloodwood didgeridoos etc. The name pink bloodwood comes from that the wood looks similar when the bark is of, pinkish in colour and it also has the same bloodlines. But less black in colour.


Termite Hollowed Didgeridoos

This just means that the termites have eaten the inside of the didgeridoo out. That’s what makes a didgeridoo original in some sense. The termites eat the hard or center part of the didgeridoo. They use this to make their nests and complicated tunnel systems and ant hills. Termite hollowed didgeridoos are made out of one piece of wood. Outside of Australia didgeridoos are usually cut in half and hollowed out to be glued back together again afterwards.

It is a myth that Aborigines used to cut a didgeridoo and stick it into an ant hill and wait untill the termites (white ants) have eaten the didgeridoo hollow. The termites come from under the ground and enter the didgeridoo tree from the bottom stem of the tree.


Regenerated didgeridoo trees

Some eucalyptus trees have the ability to regenerate. This means that when they are cut down, a new stem will shoot out of the stump that is left behind. Some people say all eucalyptus do this. Others say the tree will only regenerate if the didgeridoo is cut near or in the wet season. Some say they will only shoot up again if you do not cut the stem too close to the ground. Personally I have seen all trees regenerate in all different situations. But whether some will not regenerate I have not been able to see. Usually when a property owner wants to get rid of his trees in a certain area, he will poison them, otherwise they will keep coming back. They call eucalytpus a weed or a pest for doing this. You can not get rid of  some eucalyptus trees tree by cutting it down. Most of the didgeridoo eucalyptus trees have this nature.


DIdgeridoo Sleeves

This usually happens to older trees. It is wood that you can peel off the tree or didgeridoo. Sometimes you can continue peeling all the way around the didgeridoo. It just keeps chipping off until you come to a point where the wood stays attached on the surface of the didgeridoo. I usually put glue under the layer so that it stays together. It often happens that customers think it is a crack in the didgeridoo. But it is only wood chipping of the surface it never goes through the didgeridoo itself and once glued together it will not cause any problems to the didgeridoos average wood thickness.


Double sleeves in didgeridoos

This is something that occurs sometimes when chiselling a didgeridoo out. The termites have been making more than one hole so that you can have trouble chiselling the inside out. It also can have an effect on the sound. I usually just try to take all the wood out until you will have one neat hole again where the sound can travel through nicely.


Hollow chambers in didgeridoos

A didgeridoo that has a sudden bend in its stem will often have a hollow chamber at the part where the stem changes direction. These chambers make the airflow not consistent and can create a poor sound. Often a branch will shoot from these bends.


White ants

Means termites. See Termite hollowed.

 

See also Didgeridoo Sounds

 

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