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Wood selection

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  • Wood selection

    Hi all,

    Some basic questions.

    I am about to go ahead and try making some furniture such as a bed, night stands, a desk etc. The issue is with the selection of wood. Wifey and my daughter are not big fans of red oak with it pronounced grain and patterns. Perhaps the grain type is not as bad, as it the contrasts between darker and brighter areas.

    It looks like they are more favorable to maple, but I hear maple is very hard to work with and apply stain to. I have access for free (or at extremely attractive prices) to the following, maple, red oak, white oak, cherry and ash. The final finish to be used is to be somewhat darker stains with a hint of red.

    What would some of the recommendations be? Any pitfals, tips?

    Thanks in advance.
    In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

  • #2
    Re: Wood selection

    If you are looking to lean in the red direction then cherry would be my choice for wood, looks great and if you want some contrast use maple for light contrast or walnut for darker contract, both go well with cherry

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    • #3
      Re: Wood selection

      There are finishing techniques that can help reduce the grain contrast of oak, and the blotching tendencies of maple. Check your library for books on finishing....Jeff Jewitt's book is excellent.

      Soft maple is easier to work with than hard maple, and staining is possible if you research the proper methods for dealing with the blotchiness. You might just try a tinted shellac and the let the finish be the natural golden hue an oil base finish gives.

      Ash has a similar contrasting grain as oak but is much lighter. Pretty stuff that doesn't have to be stained if you prefer a lighter wood. I happen to think ash is gorgeous with a light brown contrasting grain, but I know how far that will go with your wife!

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      • #4
        Re: Wood selection

        The March 2007 issue of Wood magazine, number175, has a great discussion of wood selection. One of the opening photos shows a cherry bed headboard built in 2001 and again in 2006. The difference is dramatic. In the 2001 pics the headboard looks as though the boards are matched extremely well. In the 2006 pics the headboard looks as though someone didn't pay any attention at all to matching grain. All the wood was heartwood but from different trees and it aged/colored/darkened differently. Apparently cherry, if used in as large an expanse as a headboard, is very difficult to match.

        -Tom

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        • #5
          Re: Wood selection

          Thank you all for your responses. It looks like I will have to do a lot of sampling for wifey who want wood without too much of "woody" look .

          Who knows, the hardest part of woodworking may be convincing her what's "good", what's not. Kinda like with kids who just won't eat their vegetables. I think I have a lot of testing and sampling to do before I actually make something useful.
          In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

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          • #6
            Re: Wood selection

            I have built a ton of stuff in Rock Maple. Its easy to cut but burns if not using a rip blade and constant speed. The caveat of it is it requires more sanding due to wild grain usually. I like it cause it builds a solid piece and you dont have that pronounced " cathedral " patters as on ash and the oaks.Its color is nice I think unstained as well , brightens up a dark room or keeps a light room light. It doesnt stain well though, even with grain fillers I havent had much luck especially if your staying light, darker is easier. If you do go this route I would maybe have it sprayed with sealer and then have a tint added to the lacquer and go that route.
            Why dont you get some mahogany? Very reasonable if you got to a source that supplies alot of choices. Not rockler or woodcraft i meant hardwood supplier. Theres so many mahoganys that your bound to find one at a good price. Santos is cheap an sapeles not bad here in cost..
            Last edited by Woodywoodchuck; 10-05-2008, 11:53 AM. Reason: spelling

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            • #7
              Re: Wood selection

              The simple answer is if you can get cherry for cheap, use it. It is easy to work with and looks great. Red
              Red

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              • #8
                Re: Wood selection

                Pick a wood the color and grain you like and throw the can of stain away, it is a great way to ruin beautiful wood, (nearly the only reason to use stain is to use a cheap wood like pine or popular and try to make it look like something more expensive).

                Let nature take it course and let the beauty of the wood shine through the finish.

                other wise use particle board and paint it a color.
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                • #9
                  Re: Wood selection

                  cherry is an awesome wood. I did my entire house floor with it however, keep in mind its considered a hard wood but ("hard" doesnt mean it wont dent or get dinged)its been my experience that its somewhat prone for that sort of thing.
                  this is only my humble opinion of cherry, it looks great)

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                  • #10
                    Re: Wood selection

                    i just got done making a coat tree rack out of maple, i finished it with a sadona red stain and three coats of poly . turned out beautiful . just make sure when staining such a wood to use a good conditioner , and a gel stain. remember if you dont sand everything even . then the stain might come out darker in some spotts.

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