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Aaron Plunkett Lignum Vitae Bones
Aaron Plunkett Lignum Vitae Bones
World's Hardest and Densest Wood.


 
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  • World's hardest wood
  • Spiritually enriched
  • Rough Rustic Texture: Delivers Low powerful tone
  • Unique dihedral "bent" design
  • Bargain priced
  • Color and grain patterns vary
  • Handcrafted Product: No two are exactly alike.
Why shop here?
Only $49.97 pair

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Description Technical Specs The Inside Story...
 
Lignum Vitae (aka ironwood) Bones
World's Hardest and Densest Wood

These extraordinary bones are designed and handcrafted by Aaron Plunkett. Aaron is a multi-instrumentalist known throughout the world community of musical bone players for his Irish-American technique. You might have seen him as the bone-playing percussionist with the Irish Steerage band in the epic film, Titanic.

Spiritually Enriched Bones
Aaron is a metaphysically attuned person who handcrafts his distinctive instruments during cycles of the solstice in his workshop nestled in the magical Valley of Ojai (pronounced oh-high) in Southern California. "I use old-world tools, such as scrapers and sanding blocks, as well as various cooper techniques to shape my wooden bones," says the culturally aware bone maker with an avocation for chasing prehistoric fossilized whales.

So why does he choose lignum vitae? "Ironwood is amazing stuff!" declares Aaron. "It is denser than ebony," he explains, "and hence gives a much richer, deeper and warmer sound."

Aaron's mystically enhanced lignum vitae bones are the perfect choice for Irish music - especially on Saint Patrick's Day. Why? Because Aaron is kinsman to "The Honorable Druid and Catholic Priest, Oliver Plunkett, whose bones were chopped into bits," he discloses. Aaron invites you to "check out the bones of an interesting Irish saint and relative of mine - Saint Oliver Plunkett - may his bones rest in peace!"


Handcrafted from the World's Hardest and Densest Timber
Lignum vitae is reddish brown when freshly cut, with pale yellow sapwood. As it oxidizes, the color turns to a deep green, often with black details. The sapwood is pale yellow or cream colored. The heartwood ranges from dark greenish brown to almost black and is naturally resistant to decay and attack by termites and marine borers.

Aaron reports that "this ironwood comes from the jungles of South America." As a conscientious environmentalist, Aaron says the only wood he crafts is "timber from sustainable forests."

Lignum vitae is very finely textured. The wood is especially waxy because of high guaiac gum content which accounts for about 30 percent of the weight. The timber emits a slight aroma when it is warmed or rubbed. Aaron tells me "the smell is great, similar to sandalwood."

Lignum Vitae Facts
Lignum Vitae is regarded as the hardest commercial wood. With a hardness of 4500 on the Janka scale, it is roughly three-and-a-half times as hard as red oak. Not only is the wood extremely hard, but it is also extremely heavy. And with a specific gravity over 1.0, it sinks in water. In fact, the specific gravity of lignum vitae can exceed 1.4. Compare this with black ebony which has a specific gravity from 1.0 to 1.3. Yes, both woods sink in water.

This hardest of hardwoods is ideal where durability is crucial. "Historically it has been used for making things such as pulleys and propeller bushings for boats," reports the woodworker's information website, Sawdust and Shavings.

Another woodworkers site, Woodfinder.com, reports that "lignum vitae is most commonly used for mallet heads, bearings and rollers. Because of its durability and natural lubricants, it is the preferred wood for propeller bushings and other underwater applications."

Wikipedia states that "Lignum Vitae is the hardest, densest wood in the world." More from Wikipedia--
  • Lignum Vitae is the heartwood of species of the genus Guaiacum, the trees of which are also called guayacan. The name is Latin for "wood of life", and derives from its medicinal uses. Other names are palo santo, holy wood, greenheart and ironwood (one of many ironwoods). The wood is obtained chiefly from Guaiacum officinale and Guaiacum sanctum, both small, slow growing trees.
  • The lignum vitae is the national flower of Jamaica and the national tree of The Bahamas.
  • Shaft bearings on the WWII submarine USS Pampanito were made of lignum vitae, as well as the after main shaft strut bearings for USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered submarine. Also, the bearings in the original 1920's turbines of the Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant on the lower Susquehanna River were made from lignum vitae.
  • It was the traditional wood used for British police truncheons.
  • The resin has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions from coughs to arthritis.
  • Wood chips can be used to brew a tea.
Lignum Vitae Legends and Lore
According to T.H. White's version of the King Arthur story, The Once and Future King, lignum vitae, from which the staff of Merlin is made, has magical powers.

The belaying pins aboard the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") are made from lignum vitae. Despite the severity of typical marine weathering condition, they rarely require replacement because of its high density and natural oils.

Dreaded by Woodcrafters
Lignum Vitae is excellent for wood turning (i.e. making poles and bowls), and it takes a good polish. Unfortunately, however, not only is lignum vitae a rare wood, but woodcrafters dread working with it.

Why is the species feared by woodcrafters? Because the wood's extreme hardness and density combined with its high rosin and gum content make the material difficult to plane, drill, bore, router, mortise, carve, sand or glue. And although it doesn't matter much to us players, the wood is arduous to work because it is both oily and waxy. What's more, the dust is toxic.


Unique Dihedral Design
The initial thing you notice when you pick up a pair is they just feel right. At first, the "bent" shape might seem a little unusual (eccentric might be more accurate). But they are a delight to grip and you immediately discover these bones are quite formidable to play.

What is the advantage of the dihedral design?
Aaron cites three benefits:
  1. Improved tonal quality of the click (actual point at which the bone tips strike each other)
  2. Superior speed and balance (re-bound and kick back response).
  3. Better dexterity (fluidity of motion).
Low Powerful Tone
Thickness is a significant, but easily overlooked tone factor. Thick bones generate a lower tone, thin bones generate a higher tone. Surface texture is also significant. A rough texture generates a lower tone than a smooth texture. Since Aaron Plunkett's Lignum Vitae bones are relatively thick and rough textured, they produce a lower, but powerful tone.

Why Do These Bones Cost So Much?
Bones made from the hardest of hardwoods come to you at a premium price because the wood is scarce, the material is grueling to work with and the sawdust can kill you (well, not you, but the woodworker).

But whether these bones are high-priced or a bargain depends on your outlook. I don't know about you, but for me, fifty bucks is a lot of dough for one pair of bones. So how are they a bargain? Because if you compare the price to ebony bones, which run from $30 to $70+ plus per pair, then these exceptionally rare lignum vitae bones (which you are not likely to find anywhere else online or off), are an exceptionally good value for the money.

The real question is "why do these bones cost so little?"
The reason for the modest cost is because the market for musical bones is too teeny-tiny to support the production of high-end (expensive) goods. So count your blessings that Aaron keeps crafting lignum vitae bones at this relatively - and ridiculously - low price.

Figures are approximate (but pretty darn close)--

Width: 1-1/8"
Thickness: 1/4"

Specific Gravity: 1.0 to 1.4+
Density: 79 pcf

Hardness: 4500 Janka
Features
  • World's Hardest Wood: Durable, will last virtually forever.
  • World's Densest Wood: Guaranteed not to crack or your money back.
  • Genuine Lignum Vitae: Denser than ebony. Gives a rich, deep, warm tone.
  • Unique Dihedral Design: Easy to grip. Easy to play. Easy to find sweet spot
  • Extra Thick and Heavy: Helps kinetic energy work for you.
  • Handcrafted during Solstice using old-world tools: Spiritually enriched bones.

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Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 1 Write a review.

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
 
Awesome bones January 4, 2014
Reviewer: Mayo Coates from Florida  
Just received a pair of these bones in the mail today (earlier than I expected I might add) and I absolutely love them. They sound great, look great, and they even smell amazing, which makes playing them even more fun. The lore and even the factual information about these bones make them all the more interesting of an instrument. All in all, definitely buy!

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