Kalai Koa Woods

History of Koa in the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian Koa is found only in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the five largest Hawaiian Islands.  Today a majority of the Koa trees used for furniture and the arts are found on the slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawai'i.

In the 1800's the Hawaiian people used tall Koa trees to build their canoes because of its strength and durability to travel the oceans.  Today it is very difficult to build a canoe from one tree because it has been estimated that there is not much more than 10% of the amount of Koa that existed at the time of Captain Cook's arrival in 1779.  Today the only way to harvest Koa is if the trees fall naturally.  A healthy tree cannot be cut down.

Koa quickly became recognized as a prized wood with wood workers because of the variety of figuring and color.  From the light straight grains to the darker richer curly Koa which has long been considered the finest of woods for wood workers.  Because of Koa's high demand, the majority of Koa milled today is exported out of the islands and sent around the world for a premium price.


Grades of Koa:

 Select Koa

straighter wood grains and rich color tones

Curly Koa

variable grain, rich color, and 3D highlights

Premium Curly Koa

magnificent color, highly 3D, translucent tones

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