Orchid will have a curly maple stacked laminate neck. Stacked laminate is a very labor intensive building technique, but yields an incredibly strong, solid, stable neck, particularly when using highly figured woods.
"Curly" or "flamed" highly figured maple, walnut, and ash (etc.) tend to have both irregular grain patterns as well as irregular fiber patterns: grain is the "straightness" of the wood (parallel to the tree's trunk), fiber is the "curl" of the wood (perpendicular to the tree's trunk). Alternating light and dark contrasts in figured wood are simply cross sections of wood fiber waves absorbing or reflecting light waves depending upon illumination orientation.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Translation = "figured woods are beautiful but can also be less strong or stable."
Stacked laminate construction negates those deficiencies through structural engineering. Machining rough lumber into thin strips allows wood to release internal stresses and tensions created during the growing process: forces of wind, or ground slope, or proximity to other trees. Figured wood often "untwists" violently...several times in the past two decades I've had boards kick back from the blade of a table saw with enough force to penetrate the wall behind me.
I then eliminate tensions within raw neck material by setting potential forces in opposition. By alternating grain and fiber patterns in proximate laminate strips, the wood's inherent movement tendencies — due to heat or moisture — assume a "push-pull" balance, effectively creating "neutral" neck wood. Finished laminate can also be very beautiful, as in this stacked laminate walnut neck (neck heel into body view).
1. Selection — Strips have been machined (at left) and I am selecting candidates for the instrument's neck. Note both grain and fiber variegation. Machining is a tedious and often exasperating process because when cutterheads (blades) encounter grain anomalies, wood will often chip, forming a void and ruining the strip. A ruined strip might represent 6 hours of cumulative prior machining time. My reject pile can be as large as my use pile. Why bother with wood? Tone. Beauty.
2. Gluing — The glue joints are stronger than wood itself: the wood will break before the joint will. I always use waterproof glue for assembly. Quite liberally, as you can see here: clamps exert enormous force, squeezing the glue and ensuring it is evenly distributed throughout the joint.
3. Machined blanks — After 48 hours drying time, I unclamp and clean off excess glue. Next I machine the blanks to rough size, and evaluate them for quality: no grain flaws, no voids, nice patterns and alternating fiber contrasts. Most importantly, a neck blank should absolutely chime with beautiful clear musical overtones when balanced in one hand and rapped with a knuckle or rubber mallet. Blanks pictured here are quite oversized, allowing me to pick and choose which portion I like best for fretboard placement. The blanks will remain in a climate-controlled environment with 360 degree airflow for several months, allowing them to settle into their new configuration.