Wood characteristics can vary greatly, as the above picture shows. Below is a brief look at each type, as Cain sees them, from a woodworker's point of view.
When working with Koa, it is almost like the wood is working against you. Extra time and care have to be giving because of this. Koa is very beautiful and unique. Every Koa tree has different qualities. Koa is not uniform in anyway. Koa is a highly prized wood, which is reflected in its price. It is also the wood most associated with Hawaii.
Pheasant wood is a fairly hard wood that is even harder to aquire due to its rarity and high demand. It acts similar to Koa when working with it. Pheasant wood has a rare characteristic of darker heartwood with a blonder outside and a very zigzag grain pattern.
Ironwood is probably the most difficult wood to aquire on Maui because it is so hard to cure or dry properly. It is one of the most intregueing woods Cain has ever worked with because of its character. It has all of the best qualities from all of the woods, if worked correctly. It can vary from hard to impossible to work with carving tools.
Milo is a rare Hawaiian wood. The tree is also called the portia tree. It can be worked easily with carving tools and polishes nicely. Milo wood has a wild array of colors and contrast.
Eucalyptus was originally brought over from Australia and grows really well on Maui. It is a very hard and dense wood. Eucalyptus is hard to cure and get usable wood from because of its irregular grain patterns. Most varieties have beautiful character and look very unique. It can be tricky to work with and is hard on tools.
Macadamia Nut or Mac Nut wood is an extremely hard wood. Mac Nut trees grow in the tropics and are most known for their edible nuts. The wood of the Mac Nut tree is underrated though because most people don't realize how pretty it is. It has the look of snake skin. When working with the wood, it has similar qualities to oak and has a tendency to tear out due to its irregular grain pattern. The finished product makes it well worth the extra care and effort it takes to work with the wood though.
Kiawe wood is an extremely hard and dense wood. It grows in tropical areas and is in the Acacia family. It is very hard to work with because of its eratic grain pattern. Kiawe wood takes a finish really well, with unbelievable shine and gloss. It also has a semi-sweet smell to it.
Robusta is called swamp mahogney. In addition to having all the characteristics of eucalyptus listed above, it also has the extreme characteristic of being red with a beautiful curl.
Although these are not the only woods Cain works with, they do represent a good chunck of his stock on hand. If you are interested in a commisioned piece, please use the above picture and descriptions to help you decide what types of wood you would like.