Hemp-based wood inspires Canadian acoustic guitar builder | Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement

Hemp-based wood inspires Canadian acoustic guitar builder

Hemp wood guitar

SOOKE, B.C. - He’s tackled acoustic guitar builds using teredo wood soundboards dotted with clam-eaten holes, a 3,000-year-old ancient sitka spruce that fell in a mud slide around 500 years BC, and even wooden boards handpicked from Jimi Hendrix’s dismantled childhood home, but Vancouver-Island guitar builder Reuben Forsland’s latest project was constructed using one of the most sustainable construction materials on the planet: HempWood.
 
Forsland hopes crafting the world’s first acoustic guitar made from HempWood, a wood substitute created with hemp fibres, will inspire others to rethink what is possible with sustainable materials.
 
“The story of this guitar is about community,” said Forsland, owner of JOI Guitars. “It’s about people who believe in something more. From the farmers who grow hemp to the final product - the people through the whole process have a core belief around community and that the world around us matters. To have a farmed product create music through a new instrument is exciting because I get to be part of this amazing community.”
 
Building the guitar was no easy task. From his cedar and glass workshop nestled in the forests of Sooke, B.C., Forsland had to experiment with the new material to understand its limits. This meant feeling it flex, sanding it and putting it in torsion tests.
 
He learned that while HempWood is 20 per cent stronger than oak, it can become tender and prone to breaking when cut thin. To prevent this, Forsland worked gently when tooling the wood and utilized a kevlar honeycomb core and carbon fibre for reinforcement. The entire process took roughly eight weeks.
 
“To work with it was an exciting challenge,” said Forsland. “You have to be kind to it.”
 
But he believes the effort is worth it. Forsland says the guitar not only makes beautiful music, it showcases what can be done with environmentally friendly materials. Hemp crops absorb four times more carbon in their lifetime when compared to forested areas of the same size. In addition to being stronger than oak, hemp grows 100 times faster. This makes it ready in months instead of decades.
 
Like other materials he has worked with, as soon as Forsland learned about all the uses and benefits of HempWood, he became inspired to build with it. JOI Guitars only produces a handful of instruments a year with some of the most unique, rare and unorthodox materials in the world, each embodying a one-of-a-kind story to match.
 
Forsland sourced his materials from Fibonacci, a Kentucky-based company founded and led by materials engineer Greg Wilson.
 
“HempWood is more than just a material. It is a way of life,” said Wilson. “It takes a village to make a difference and we are honoured to have craftsmen and artists like Reuben to make their dreams a reality."
 
Like other materials he has worked with, as soon as Forsland learned about it, he became inspired. JOI Guitars only produces a handful of instruments a year with some of the most unique, rare and unorthodox materials in the world. Each has a one-of-a-kind story to match.
 
“When you have the opportunity to work with something new, challenge yourself, expand your skills and capabilities, while crafting a beautiful guitar  - that experience makes me grateful to be a part of the community of visionary people who combine sustainability and work together,” said Forsland.

hempwood.com
 
Monday, April 12, 2021