Going to Hawaii soon and I'm interested in bringing some local wood back
with me - monkey pod and koa, for example. Has anyone done this before?
Should I attempt to bundle some up and ship it with my luggage, or have it
shipped separate via UPS or FedEx? I'm not talking about huge quantities
here, but enough to make some boxes or similar. Regardless, the stuff is
You'd better check on the quarantine/fumigation issues, plant material
from Hawaii to the mainland is highly regulated. Whether lumber falls
into the same categories is something you definitely need to get a
They have the Formosan termites in Hawaii that make our species look
like toothless ladybugs, and I don't think we have them in California...
yet. I'll bet wood shipments from Hawaii are not a simple matter;
definitely do not ship via your luggage.
I went a couple years ago, and brought home a small board of Koa,
maybe 1.5 board ft, in my luggage. The board cost $10, and they
charged me $25 at the airport for "overweight luggage". If you plan
ahead you should be fine. The ag inspectors saw it and didn't stop
On Mon, 15 Jan 2007 20:46:59 -0600, "bob"
At the end of March 2004 I shipped 13 bd ft of Koa from Honolulu to
California. I bought it (a plank that was 102" long x 8-1/2" x 2") from
a furniture builder whose shop was near the Hawaii Stadium. He cut it
into four equal-length pieces and sealed the end-grain for me. I took
it to a UPS shop and shipped home for about $105, after paying $388 for
the wood. My net cost was about $38 per board foot for some nicely
figured Koa. Just a few months ago I sliced one of the four pieces into
two bookmatched panels for use in building solid-body guitars - the
stuff is gorgeous!
The best sources are probably on the Big Island, but I found this guy
through a woman who sells koa back & side sets for acoustic guitars and
makes koa shells for snare drums.
There's also a Woodcraft store in Honolulu that has some Koa in stock
for prices ranging from $25 to over $50 per bd ft at that time -
probably more now.
Yes, you must get yourself some while you're there.
There's a lumber yard in Honolulu down toward the Docks off Mokauea Street.
They have a shop, where they were building some big coffee tables out of Koa
that were absolutely beautiful (and probably worth $10,000 each). I asked if
I could get some shorts to bring home and the guy took me over to their
shorts storage area and let me pick through the pile. Since the stuff is so
expensive they save almost every cut off, down to only a few inches square
(and I thought I saved everything). I picked out 10 pieces that varied in
size and thickness from 24"X 5"X 1" and smaller. When I decided that I had
selected all that I wanted the guy looked my pile over and said $25. I think
I got a pretty good deal because what I got totaled about 4 BF. I had one
suitcase that wasn't very full, but with these boards added I almost
couldn't get it closed. I even had to move a few things to another suitcase.
It went through the luggage check-in and the trip home with no problems at
all (know the size and weight limits ahead of time and then weigh the bags
at the hotel). The agricultural inspectors weren't at all concerned about
it. One of them told me that they were only interested in living vegetation,
fruit, and wood that might contain insects. I've made a few small desk
accessories (it doesn't make pens very well), but still have most of what I
brought back. (Someday that special project will come along). If you are
going to ship it back, take it to a UPS Store and have them box it up and
ship it back for you. It's about as heavy as teak, so shipping will be
expensive, even if you send it by snail carrier.
"bob" < email@example.com> wrote in message
You should definitely do it. I brought back about 12 bf of Koa this
summer from Honolulu Hardwoods - it took me a bit of detective work to
track down a place that would sell small quantities. I had a shipping
store wrap it in bubblewrap and pack it in a cardboard box and I had no
problems getting it through the agriculture inspection or baggage
check-in (no extra fees) - and this was days after the "liquid bomb"
scare in London.
More details here on my trip and the koa:
Which island you going to? We went to the big island.
Yes, heavy, but not a problem at the airport except for weight. And I
had several boards of suitcase length, and made it through just fine.
And I had a pretty good pile of wood shipped for me. All I bought was
koa for my bags, but I couldn't resist a 10/4 six-foot length of mango.
That's the main reason I ended up having a load shipped by the seller
(who, for some strange reason, was very familiar with the process)
There's lumber yards all over the big island. My favorite was Paradise
Hardwoods on the east side near Hilo. But if you ask at all the little
mom and pop shops with shelves of bowls and boxes, about half of 'em
have a rack with cutoffs and nice pieces for people like you and me.
:-) Often they were smaller trunk cutoffs, waxed at the ends. Several
of those ended up in my luggage. One guy took me out back and let me
pick through a batch of older koa that somebody's uncle had cut and
dried in a shed for years, and now wanted to get rid of. Not great
grain but it was cheap.
Lots of poking around in people's woodsheds, conversations with local
woodworkers, picking through piles of wood. It was great. :-)
Oh yeah, there was some sightseeing too.
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