Walnut or cherry?

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"stryped" wrote:
>Which is easier for a newbie to work with? I wont get around to it for >some time because my wife wants me to build her a bookshelf first, but >I have a plan for a mantle clock I would like to make for my >grandmother. It calls for cherry but I wondered abotu Walnut. Was not >sure if one was better than another to work with wwith my cheap tools.
A couple of thoughts:
1) You go home with who ever took you to the dance. In this case, your tools. Don't berate them.
Add to them, retire them, but don't berate them.
2)Pick whatever wood you like for a project.
For that project, it will be the "easiest" wood to work, because you WANT to work with it.
IMHO, 90% of any project is ATTITUDE.
Off the box.
Lew
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There isn't really a good answer to this. Both are fairly easy to work, with either hand tools or machines. Cherry is rather more prone to tearout and chipping, and is sometimes weak along the grain, moreso than walnut (so be careful if you've got some detail that involves a bit of short grain). Cherry will burn very readily if you've got a dull router bit or are clumsy with a sander.
Walnut is mildly toxic, and some people are very sensistive to the dust/shavings. You may find you want to wear a dust mask anytime you're working with walnut, which isn't necessary with cherry (unless you're power sanding, spraying finish, etc).
For a very easy to work wood, you might consider mahogany. It would make a very nice looking clock, IMO.
John
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I prefer walnut over cherry. I made a cabinet out of cherry and spent a lot of time sanding out the burn marks. Where I live, walnut is less expensive than cherry due to the demand. Don't pass up maple or oak.
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stryped wrote:

Cheap doesn't matter so much...but sharp does. Like many have said, cherry has a strong tendency to burn, so when I saw it I frequently leave an extra 1/16th on it to be taken off with jointer/sander/plane. I've never had a problem burning it with a router, though. I have a variable speed router, and I use it with a relatively faster feed rate and lower RPM. Jointers and planers aren't an issue either.
Walnut is beautiful, but cherry is my favorite. Pound for pound the best character of any wood I've yet used. YMMV.
One other thing with walnut: Around here (SE Michigan) almost all of it has been steam-dried. (If that seems like a contradiction in terms, you'll just have to trust me on this one.) Since walnut has been so badly over-harvested, it's very difficult to find boards of a decent width that don't have sapwood. (They're really cutting some young trees now, and walnut trees by their nature have a lot of sapwood anyway.)
However, in order to attempt to blend walnut's heartwood with its sapwood, they introduce steam into the drying process. This darkens the sapwood to some extent.
It doesn't work very well, and if you take much off the surface of the board you will completely negate the effects of the "blending." The bottom line is that you *think* you're getting a board of uniform color, but once you cut through the surface you'll realize you haven't.
So be careful when you buy walnut, especially if you're not buying S2S. Talk to your dealer and ask if the wood's been steam-dried. (If he doesn't know what you're talking about, get another dealer.) My dealer warned me about it the first time he saw me poking through the walnut bin. He's asked his supplier to knock it off, but they won't.
Cherry, too, has a lot of sapwood, but you can see it a mile away.
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