Hawaii Koa Wood – From Weapons to Watches

For anyone who has been to Hawaii, you know that Koa wood is highly revered as the wood of the monarchs and the ali’i. Koa wood grows only in Hawaii. It was the wood used by the warriors of King Kamehameha, the Great, to create canoes and weapons. In later years, Hawaiian used Koa for many daily functions, carving long tree trunks in Koa surfboards and even creating bowls, called umeke, for serving food. Of course, some of the finest stringed instruments like guitars and ukulele are made by master craftsmen with Koa wood.

Hawaii Koa Wood – From Weapons to Watches

Today, Koa is growing in all the Hawaiian Islands, from Kauai to the Big Island of Hawaii. Contrary to popular myth, Koa is not an endangered species and has never been put on any endangered species list. In fact, there are over 100,000 acres of private land on the Big Island alone where Koa is grown. And that does not include the land owned by the State of Hawaii where Koa grows abundantly.

There are many grades of Koa wood, reflecting how much more beautiful some Koa wood is compared to others. The finest and most expensive Koa wood is called curly Koa. The curl is the rippling wavy pattern that runs perpendicular to the natural grain of the wood. Only 10% of all Koa wood is curly, so this very special wood is the most sought after. Curly Koa is priced 5-10 times higher than mere Select Koa, which does not have the beautiful fluttering grain patterns.

Select Koa is found in many lumber yards and used for flooring and veneers by inexpensive souvenir companies. Often the Select Koa is shipped to far off places like the Philippines to make earrings, bangles and other Hawaiian Accessories. Don’t be fooled, this cheap souvenir jewelry is not made in Hawaii and is not made from the premium Koa.

Responsible companies like Martin & MacArthur have been using Koa to make fine furniture and home furnishings for over 50 years. In fact, Martin & MacArthur buys and uses more Koa wood than any other company in the world.

The craftsmen of Martin & MacArthur hand-select the finest curly Koa form private plantations on the Big Island. The chairman of the company is directly involved with the selection of every piece of Koa wood purchased for Martin & MacArthur. The company’s founder Jon Martin, often said, ”The most beautiful furniture in the world, starts with the most beautiful curly Koa.”

For over 53 years, the company has been making fine Koa furniture for the likes of ‘Iolani Palace, and high end resorts like the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Moana Surfrider, the Four Seasons Hualalai, the Ritz Carlton Maui, the St. Regis-Princeville and the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

Today, Martin & MacArthur is the leading innovator for Koa design, creating completely new lines of Koa furniture every two years. Martin & MacArthur also has created innovative personal accessories such as Koa watches, Koa iPhone and iPad cases, and Koa Eternity Rings. It used to be that Koa was considered a wood to simply furnish your home. Now, Koa is a prized for personal accessories that were once thought impossible to make with wood.

Beautiful curly Koa has a well-deserved place in Hawaii’s heritage and is now used for innovative design by the craftsmen of Martin & MacArthur.