Birch vs. other light woods...

I need contrast with walnut for a chess board.
Was going to do mahogany for a nice brown/orange kind of thing, but thought better of it because I don't need (ie can't afford) a lot of mahogany right now, and they only had huge boards. Was going to do maple, but they only have soft, and it's very soft. Could do poplar or oak, but poplar's too soft, and oak wouldn't look right. Cherry just seems completely unsuitable, and it's the most expensive to boot.
So...
I wound up buying a reasonably interesting looking chunk of birch. Cheaper than most, seems relatively hard. It's a bit boring to look at, but it seemed like the hardest, lighest wood I could come by with hard maple out of consideration (not stocked locally at all).
Think this will look good for a chess board? What about eventually making a chess set out of walnut and birch, once I get the hang of turning and feel adventuresome enough to undertake such a project?
I haven't cut anything yet, and I can always do something else. I want it to look snazzy, so if anyone sees long term problems with birch, then holler.
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On Thu, 06 Nov 2003 00:31:05 -0500, Silvan

Birch is nice, but I think maple would look better.
Barry
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Agree. MAple is prettier. But how many people will EVER know? I built some bookcases (7'8 X 4') and almost no one noticed the maple/alder. Oh well---. Everyone does comment on "how pretty" they are so maybe looks ARE more important than we realize. I guess only another SERIOUS woodworker would notice and appreciate.
On Thu, 06 Nov 2003 11:36:09 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .

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Almost no one is able to distinguish wood from platic foil with wood pattern printed on, or otherwise the crap furniture megastores would not sell anything. Most peaople cannot even see the difference between straight and crooked, so do not build for "most people" but fo you own delight.
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On Thu, 06 Nov 2003 14:00:43 +0100, Juergen Hannappel

Amen, brother, amen!
Barry
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I have used walnut and birch together several times. I prefer that combination to using hard maple as the maple is so much harder than the walnut they don't sand evenly. The walnut/birch pairs nicely in workability, gives good contrast, and I like the smell of birch when cutting it.
Woodchip

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The traditional wood for the light squares is holly, maybe you can get it at one of those retail hardwood outlets.
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Contrast is going to depend a bit on the finish you use, because birch pulls in more finish than hard maple, and can be darkened by oil-based. You will, of course experiment on your scrap rather than your project.
You need so little, why not spring for some hard maple? That way, if your plane/scrape job needs a bit of sanding you won't blur the lines by stuffing walnut dust into porous birch.

thought
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George wrote:

Gonna use clear shellac. I'll experiment first, but it came out very clear on my last project. Gave pretty nearly the same look as simply dipping a piece in mineral spirits.

Not available, and one of the parameters of the game is that I try to avoid buying anything mail order. That's the main reason why not, though I could really use some hard maple for a few other things that need doing, and it's not off the table entirely.
The sanding issue is a good point.
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Yeah, I've seen just a few boards made up at the school....
Not talking a lot of BF, if your experiment doesn't satisfy you. Probably five bucks would ship two or three boards of proper length. I shipped another CARE package priority to the kid in Iraq this a.m. for 16, and it was pretty heavy.

your
avoid
could
it's
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I ordered some hardwoods from Advantage Lumber in NY to be shipped to So. CALIF coast and paid about half of what local hardwood store would have been. Rob says a board or truckload. www.advantagelumber.com I think.
On Thu, 06 Nov 2003 08:54:19 -0500, Silvan

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Bob Bowles wrote:

Good grief. Red oak prices for black walnut, poplar prices for red oak...
It _is_ hard to keep supporting the local guy sometimes in this day and age.
Incidentally, the wood is already purchased, and I decided to use soft maple after all. Got a piece with some flame, and if I cut it right, it should look really nice. If I don't plane the figure away, that is... :)
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I made one using western red cedar. If you look hard you find both dark and lite wood, plus it smells good.
Brooks
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You can also use walnut and walnut. Heart and sap, you often find a good deal of contrast in cheaper graded walnut.
rog
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Roger Jensen wrote:

That's definitely a thought, and one I never considered. Thanks for that one... I'll have to see what kind of low grade stuff I can come up with, and at what price.
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Silvan wrote:

Try looking for air-dryed walnut. From my limited experience (purchasing 2 lots of walnut) The air-dried sapwood stayed much 'creamier' white and the kiln-dried sapwood is rather grayish and bland.
as always, YMMV
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