The Story of Buck’s Return To Genuine Ebony
Republished With Permission
Sit back and we will tell you the tale of our journey with ebony. Back in the 60’s when we introduced a little knife you might have heard of, the 110 Folding Hunter, it was decided that ebony would be the perfect complement to those beautiful, brass bolsters. Things were good for many years until practices of harvesting this tropical hardwood ran afoul of the law. This led to bans on importing most ebony into the USA. We transitioned to the best available alternative which was a resin-treated wood that was durable and classic looking. But, nothing could beat the real thing.
A few years back, Taylor Guitars, a company located near Buck’s previous factory in El Cajon, California, reached out about a new supply chain of ebony. We were immediately interested.
Taylor Guitars had been approached to buy an ebony mill in Cameroon, Africa. During the vetting process, their eyes were opened to the malpractices of the industry. Ebony is a slow growth tree, taking over 60 years to mature. Only about 1 in 10 trees produces the famous black ebony (which most people thought was the only ebony). Most trees have marbled patterns. There is no way to find out which is which until you cut into the tree. This led to the forest being stripped in search of black ebony. Add to this, low paid workers, corruption, lack of resources, etc. and they almost backed out the deal. This created an ethical dilemma for Taylor Guitars, as they knew backing out of the deal like that meant they would never use ebony on their guitars again.
Taylor purchased the mill, named Crelicam, and quickly changed many things. Workers were given contracts and better working conditions, and they brought in new equipment from the USA. They realized the marbled ebony might be their preferred ebony for the gorgeous marbling. They started using it in their high end guitars and customers loved it. They partnered with research institutes to do one of the most complete studies of the ebony tree. They learned how to germinate and plant it. They partnered with locals to pay them to plant ebony as well as care for the trees till they reach a certain size.
Today they have created a model that is working. The raw ebony comes into Taylor’s factory in El Cajon, California where it is turned into raw handle scales. These scales are then finished by our skilled craftsmen here in Post Falls, Idaho. We are happy to partner with Taylor Guitars to offer you genuine ebony on our classic products.
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