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 Post subject: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #1 Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:40 am 
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Hi everyone,
I am new to this forum and have a question regarding making your own goban. I currently own a foldable birch plywood goban. I bought it from a very popular go online retailer in Germany. Its of good quality and it does the job. But apart from the fact that the wood seems to lack a proper finish, the grain is rather ugly and sometimes the dark color of the grain interferes with the lines of the board.

As I built some wood furniture myself, I thought about making my own goban. As I was looking for the material, I stumbled over paulownia. It seems to be a lightweight, bright color, straight grain, soft (good for the tone, e.g., it is quite often used for guitars), easy to work with and affordable wood (approx. 30$/m2 for 18mm thickness).

So this seems to be a optimal choice. However, it seems to be very uncommon. Its not listed on the Material Goban list on Senseis Library and googling it gives me no proper results (even when using the japanese name „kiri“).

So is there anything i miss? I am grateful for any further insights.
Best, Chris

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 Post subject: Re: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #2 Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:26 am 
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It's too soft for a Goban. https://www.wood-database.com/wood-arti ... est-woods/
It breaks easily, the grain isn't fine and detailed; sanding will not give you a plain surface as a hard wood would.
They use it for boxes and covers in Japan. Never for Gobans.


Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #3 Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:08 pm 
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Paulonia is very soft, and the impact of the stones on it would seriously dent it or even split it. In Japan it is used to make boxes and covers for high quality go bowls and boards. The softness of the wood means that it protects things inside the box by absorbing (by being dented) the energy of some blow to the box. The softness also means that the contents won't be likely to be scratched by the inside of the box. Thirty-five years ago I was told by a Japanese pro who was also a collector of high class go equipment (multiple kaya floor boards, island mulberry bowls, several sets of thick Japanese clam stones, etc.) who told me that the paulonia wood cover can give some protection to a kaya board in case of a house fire. I don't know anything about that in my own experience, but that is what he said.

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Post #4 Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:36 pm 
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Hi sh58,

I don't know anything about this particular wood,
but based on the two replies, it's too soft.
If it's "too soft," it means lining the grids may be a big challenge.
Since you have experience with wood furniture, maybe you also know about lining a goban. I found out the hard way that professional quality grid lines and star points on a goban are very difficult to obtain "free-hand" ( unless you have some laser-etching tools! )

Enjoy. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #5 Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:37 pm 
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Thanks for the input. I read about the softness but attributed it to "making a good sound", rather than durability issues.
So I guess, I will have to look for another material :-)
btw, it is true that paulownia is somewhat more fire resistant than other woods. So it might actually buy you time in case of a fire.

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 Post subject: Re: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #6 Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:08 am 
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Like the other comments said, it is far too soft. Paulownia is popular for making boxes to house Go bowls and covers for boards, but it's far too soft for the stones. Even very hard wood like Agathis will dent with a strong strike, so Paulownia would not fare well.

If you're making a Go board you'll want something sturdy but with a pleasing, light color.

Popular woods in Japan are...

1. Kaya (highest quality)
2. Katsura (most common)
3. Agathis (commmon, but a bit hard for shell stones)
4. Spruce (Shin-Kaya) (popular but not high quality)
5. Hiba (Not as common, even in Japan)

This website has a good list of woods, many of which should be easy to acquire in Germany.

https://senseis.xmp.net/?MaterialGoban

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Post #7 Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:23 am 
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Quote:
5. Hiba (Not as common, even in Japan)
Over 10 years ago, I experienced someone's hiba board. Its color was almost a creamy hue; and I thought it was harder than spruce (maybe too hard for shell stones, but I'm not sure).

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 Post subject: Re: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #8 Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:45 pm 
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Erythen wrote:
Popular woods in Japan are...

1. Kaya (highest quality)
2. Katsura (most common)
3. Agathis (commmon, but a bit hard for shell stones)
4. Spruce (Shin-Kaya) (popular but not high quality)
5. Hiba (Not as common, even in Japan)


I know kaya is highly valued, and indeed it often is beautiful and very nice to play with, but saying spruce is not high quality is not totally true, IMHO.
I have seen nice and beautiful spruce/shin-kaya boards, same as there are some ugly (to my eyes) kaya boards around (knots, dents, uneven grain, uneven shades of colour - for multipiece boards, painted, etc.). Some shin-kaya boards may be of high quality.
Apart from that, it is also a matter of personal preference and taste, costs and budget.

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 Post subject: Re: Paulownia as goban material?
Post #9 Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:42 pm 
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An old post from someone who was considering cedar as a goban material might be of interest to you.
forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=8958

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