Whether you call it roasted, torrefied, baked, caramelized or just modified, the maple that we use in our calls is head and shoulders above the rest!
We learned about this process of wood modification on the musical instrument side of our business, and after several years of research and development on our banjos, we decided to apply what we'd learned to our turkey calls. After the maple has been modified, you get an extremely stable wood that is now lighter in weight, has an increased stiffness-to-weight ratio, and most importantly, is now more resonant. A wonderful side effect of the roasting process is the beautiful brown color that goes completely through the wood.
The actual roasting process is quite involved requiring specialized equipment, and should not be tried at home. There is a lot more to it than just putting a piece of maple in your kitchen oven.
Our maple is modified in a million dollar, computer-controlled kiln that is heated by a thermal oil boiler and has the ability to add steam into the mix. The entire process takes about 7 to 10 days and, for the most part, follows this path:
- The maple we use is first hand-selected for grain orientation and appearance. It is then carefully stickered on pallets to allow for proper air flow, strapped down tight and sent off to be modified.
- The wood is put into the oven and steam is introduced to bring the wood up to temperature and to start the stress relieving process. This also conditions the wood in a way that minimizes warping and checking (cracking). At this stage, all oxygen is removed from the oven.
- Once the wood is warm and stress-relieved, the first wave of computer-controlled heat is applied to bring the wood down to zero percent moisture content and maintain it at that level. This is a very important step. All moisture must be removed because any remaining internal moisture will be converted to steam and internal checking will occur.
- When at zero percent moisture content, the high heat is applied and the modification process begins.
- After soaking at temperature to complete the modification process, the wood is then brought down in temperature, and steam and moisture is pumped back into the chamber to bring the moisture content back up so that when the wood is removed from the oven it is ready to use.
What we wind up with is maple that makes an extremely responsive call that looks as good as it performs.