Brent Cole, Alaska Specialty Woods
PO Box 312. Craig, AK 99921 | 907 826 3566 | 855 4AK WOOD | brent @alaskawoods.com | www.alaskawoods.com
How did you end up in the specialty wood industry?
When I arrived on Prince of Wales in ’87, Dwayne Dixon was dabbling in musicwood by taking unused chunks and rounds to local instrument makers. I rented Dixon’s house and found the chunks of wood. I remember he picked one up and knocked on it. “Hear that music?” he said. He introduced me to the concept. I spent 9 years with Phoenix Log before deciding I needed to do my own thing. I had some trees on my property and started using them for musicwood. I started doing wholesale block production, but I went through those blocks to find the specialty woods for the high end products. And for the past 17 years, we’ve been manufacturing soundboards for all acoustic instruments.
Where do you get most of your wood from?
Where do you sell your products?
I actually have a large, worldwide market. I ship to 50 or 60 countries on a order by order basis. I have major purchasers in Australia, Canada, all over the UK, and in the lower 48. I think I have a good relationship with my customers. I actually had a customer in South Carolina recently send me a native flute as a gift.
What sets your products apart from other musicwood operations?
We’re set apart by the fact that he has an extensive product line. We send soundboards that are cut to specific dimensions, and our biggest seller is guitar tops, but we also sell parts for other instruments. We sell soundboards for mandolins, mountain dulcimers, harp guitars, ukuleles, violins, basses – you name it. If it it’s acoustic, I cut for it. And I make use of everything, right down to the sticks. I use a vertical band saw for the smaller pieces, and a horizontal saw for the larger pieces. We dry the wood using fans and a dehumidifier, and then separate pieces according to color, texture, and thickness. Some people prefer a closer knit texture, of 16 to 24 growth lines per inch. But we have a broad selection.
Where do you see the future of the timber industry going?
What is the most rewarding aspect of running this business?
The most rewarding aspect is that I’m doing my own thing. I don’t do any one thing enough to get tired of it. Plus I’m working outside everyday in southeast Alaska. Now that’s a blessing.
Sounds like you spend a lot of time around instruments. Can you play any?
Nope. Hurts my fingers.