Koa Wooden Rings
Koa, the Uniquely Hawaiian Wood
Second in popularity only to my Whiskey Barrel wood rings are my Hawaiian Koa wooden rings. Rich in history and significance, I aim to create wood rings, without compromise, the absolute highest grade Koa available in the world.
A uniquely Hawaiian wood, Koa translates from the native tongue to “warrior”. It was used by ancient Hawaiians to make hand-to-hand combat weapons, and waka (canoes) that became synonymous with Hawaiian warriors, which is how the wood earned its name. Because of its widespread availability on the islands, Koa became a standard material for early Hawaiian life. Dishware, early cutlery, surfboards, and even ukuleles were made out of koa wood.
In Hawaiian culture, Koa is a hardwood that represents integrity and strength, which are the foundational qualities of marriage. In weddings, a Koa wood bowl is dipped into water to use for the blessing of the rings.
Koa Wood Rarity
Today, Koa wood grows on all islands of Hawaii, especially the Big Island. This is because of the rich volcanic soil that yields a gorgeous deep golden colored Koa that has unbelievable curl. Koa wood is known for its “curl”, and the Koa I use is CURLY. It is very difficult to capture in pictures. I was doing some research so that I could describe the effect. I will just quote from a top google result because I cannot improve this description:
“Chatoyancy is a property that is usually attributed to certain gems, the cat’s eye effect or shimmer which gives a sense of depth in the gem. This property can also be used to describe some of the more dramatic pieces of curly, tigerstripe and fiddleback Koa. This figuring gives the wood a three dimensional quality; and depending on from what angle one views the wood, it can take on several completely different characters.”*
This character is typically found in high altitude trees between 3,000-6,000 ft that are old growth (80+ years). Only about 10% of all Koa wood is “curly”, which makes it one of the most prized natural products from the islands. All Koa wood is harvested from compromised, dead, or fallen trees ONLY. The state of Hawaii and plantation owners are very strict about the harvesting of Koa - self regulation is a standard practice.
Because Koa wood is harvested sparingly, sometimes there is an extended period of time when truly excellent material is completely unavailable. Koa at lower elevations is regularly harvested, but this Koa tends to be more blond, with very little figure. This type of Koa is more popular for furniture, and is the Koa wood you will see featured in rings on Alibaba or another resellers of Chinese mass-produced rings found on Etsy and elsewhere.
A Range of Wood Ring Styles
Outside of my Whiskey Barrel wood rings, Hawaiian Koa has the most diversity in styles I offer.
One of the newest styles of Koa I offer is stabilized Koa wood. Stabilization is a massively underrated and important part of woodworking, especially in the world of small wood turnings. This process is an artform in itself, as only certain stock is appropriate for this expensive, complex procedure. The basic principle is to take a piece of soft wood and inject it with a resin to create a hardened, stable material. The resin displaces air pockets throughout the grain structure to create a dense wood, impervious to moisture. In my wood rings, I use the stabilization to enhance the appearance of specific grain.
All of my wood rings are constructed and protected with a sophisticated blend of epoxies that cannot be found anywhere else. The techniques and tools required to protect the wood with resins originally for use finishing hot tubs was developed entirely in-house. This trade secret is one reason WedgeWood Rings remains ahead of other shops that use less durable epoxies, or even more disastrously- simple cyanoacrylate.