Young-Growth Koa Wood Quality Assessment & Demonstration Project

HFIA teamed up with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station and the Northern Research Station, and the University of Hawai‘i to implement the Young-Growth Koa Wood Quality Assessment and Demonstration project. Others involved include Kamehameha Schools, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and Parker Ranch. HFIA contracted with subcontractors to harvest and mill the project trees.

To address questions about the viability of young-growth koa in existing koa wood product markets, a study was conducted in which 10 young-growth koa trees were harvested at three locations on the Island of Hawai‘i; Keauhou in West Hawai‘i and Waipunalie and Humu‘ula in East Hawai‘i. Results will provide a good indication of the variability of the young-growth koa resource on these key attributes.

A Young-Growth Koa Wood Processing Demonstration Day was held on November 15th at Jay Warner’s mill in Waipunalei.  Jay milled one log from each of the three sites, explained the milling process, and answered questions from the 25 attendees.  US Forest Service Researchers Jan Weidenbeck and Eini Lowell and research assistants Betsy Porterfield and Judy Makowski collected data from the young-growth koa wood for important market attributes such as color, heartwood/sapwood proportions, defect, wood density, and curl figure. UH Extension Forester Dr. J.B. Friday and his assistants Holli Tidwell and Sarah Knox assisted with the study. Merchantable log sections were measured, analyzed for defect, photographed, and then sawn.

Seven woodworkers created pieces from the young-growth koa wood. The pieces were displayed for at public venues, including the 2012 and 2013 Hawaii’s Woodshow, Hilo Airport, Rainforest Gallery in Volcano, Dunn Gallery, Cunningham Gallery, Big Island Wood Products, Hawaiian Koa Naturals, and fishcake gallery.  Because this was young koa, it was an interesting challenge. The element of design and craftsmanship were very important.

Dave Landry’s UH Manoa summer furniture art studio class crafted some beautiful pieces of furniture from the young-growth koa.  The pieces were on display at the UH Art Gallery in September 2012.  See photos at UH Manoa Students’ Young-growth Koa Furniture.

Don Albrecht created eight bowls and displayed three of them at the 2012 Hawaii’s Woodshow.  A jewelry box and mirror frame by Richard Cunningham; matching side table and dresser by Clark Allred; 12 benches by Mats Fogelvik; matching side tables by Ron Hester; and two calabashes by Scott Hare were displayed at the “Growing Koa in Hawaii Nei” Symposium in November 2012, along with one of Don Albrecht’s bowls. Some pieces were displayed at the Hilo Airport, Rainforest Gallery in Volcano, Dunn Gallery, Cunningham Gallery, Big Island Wood Products, Hawaiian Koa Naturals, and fishcake gallery.

Richard Cunningham’s jewelry box and framed mirror; Mats Fogelvik’s two small stools; Scott Hare’s two calabashes; Ron Hester’s two end tables; and Ima Ukulele’s two soprano ukuleles were on display at the 2013 Hawaii’s Woodshow.  Graphic artist Diana Tusher created a three-panel Young-growth Koa Study poster, which was displayed on the wall above the young-growth koa pieces at the 2013 Hawaii’s Woodshow.  Scott Hare gifted his two calabashes to Heather Simmons, one of which will be donated to the Mahalo ‘āina “Give Back to the Forest” Campaign.

Consumer Preference Study of Characteristics of Hawaiian Koa Wood Bowls, 8/23/2017 By Eini C. Lowell, Katherine Wilson, Jan Wiedenbeck, Catherine Chan, J. B. Friday, and Nicole Evans Lowell Friday et al koa wood preference BPB 29-150-1-PB

2016 Koa Symposium Proceedings: https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/forestry/trees/koa_2016.html