Why is Koa Wood is Expensive and Sought For?

Koa wood is probably one of the most expensive and highly sought-for types of wood in the market. If you are going to ask woodworkers, they would say that koa wood is considered as second to none because of its special appearance and its exoticism.  

 Its price can be a result of different factors. First, it is endemic and can only be found in Hawaii, which means you can never see it an anywhere else. Second, you can only get Koa wood when they are dead because cutting live Koa trees on private islands is considered to be a sin.

The History of Koa 

The term “koa” is derived from the Hawaiian word of “warrior”. Several years ago, their King Kamehameha the Great had warriors that created weapons and canoes from woods of the Hawaiian’s Big Island. The weapons that were created this time were made of marlin bills, shark’s teeth, and Koa wood. These materials were proven to effectively cut with efficiency and precision the enemy’s flesh. The Koa wood has played an unmatched contribution in the King’s feat of uniting all the islands together.  



In the following years, anyone is prohibited to possess and cut a live koa wood because it is considered a sin. Only the Hawaiian monarchy and the royalty class is allowed to obtain this wood. However, when the king died, his widow and son abandoned the Kapu system, which paved the way for the masses to obtain and possess Koa wood.  


Even up until now, the State of Hawaii with its plantation owners are strict about the harvesting of the Koa and everyone is encouraged to practice self- regulation. This is why the people that sell these woods just rely on the harvest coming only from dead and fallen trees.  


Because of this regulation, the Koa wood is growing in the Hawaiian Islands despite of it being regarded as an endangered type of tree.  



The Beauty of Koa Wood 

Koa is used for many different purposes and end products. In Hawaiian alone, they use it for making bowls, cutting instruments, canoes, and even for making stringed musical instruments like violin and guitar.  


The most compelling quality of Koa wood in musical instruments is its midrange focus with top-end brightness and chime. When the koa wood is used, the stringed instruments formulate a much richer and resonant tone.  


There could be different textures and colors that are available and they are determined by some factors like the tree’s size, age, quality of the soil the tree had grown, etc.  


The price of Koa varies, depending on its variants, colors, textures, etc. But no matter what variation it has come from, “there is no comparison to Koa,” according to Hearne, the owner of Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, Pa. 


Today, one of the largest users of the Koa wood is the Martin and MacArthur, which is a Hawaiian company that has been making Koa furniture and other house accessories for more than 50 years. They have been one of the oldest companies that has been reportedly operated in Hawaii.