I am ready to make a couple of wood/metal spice racks and a table base.
They will be a combination of metal, artistic cutouts, tile, and transparent
patterned glass, something similar to Frank Lloyd Wright patterns.
What is a good wood to use that isn't terribly expensive? I want it to be
hard, take a stain well, be workable with a router without shredding or
eating blades, and finish up to a nice luster/gloss. I know oak is
available at HD. What would be some others that are commonly available at
local lumber yards or even shipped online that would meet these parameters?
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While the grain is nothing to write home about, the wood is great to
work with. Machines well, will dye easily to look like a close
grained piece of walnut or an honest to goodness piece of mahogany.
The straight grain will also keep you from having to worry too much
about warping and twisting when you finish your project.
Down here in Texas where all hardwoods are nasty expensive, you can
get beech at our local Paxton's for about $2.50 a BF (amazing....),
sanded two sides. Even more amazing, you can get widths as well.
No, it isn't sanded, just run through a planer and straight-lined on one
side usually. When I buy over 100bf, they will let me choose the thickness,
which is usually 13/16 for most of my uses. The S4S sold at home depot is
usually 2 1/2 to 3 times the cost of what my suppliers charge.
Birch and hickory come to mind as well. Hickory can be a bit loud
sometimes, the birch is always nice from my supplier, and beech seems
to come and go, with my guy at least. Lovely even-grained stuff when
it is available, and a good deal.
And, of course, cherry if you can afford it. Frank Llllloyd Wright
would agree with me there.
I suppose you can start with the wood hardness chart, then look for an
appropriate corresponding wood to stain, next link. Local mills may
have less commercial varieties of lumber available, than HD, Lowes,
etc., also.... varieties that will suit your hardness, cutting and
staining needs... ash, pecan, hickory, osage orange, plum, persimmon
(a variety of ebony, but it's not black)?
If you are near a city of good size, maybe you can go to a cabinet shop and
ask where you can find a supplier. It's a for sure thing that most shops
know where to buy the best quality for a cheaper price. Maybe also ask if
the shop would sell you whatever you need. It's hard to help you locate a
good hardwood supplier without knowing what part of the world you are in.
Have a good day, woodstuff
When it comes to hardwoods, avoid Home Depot like it was the plague.
Personally I try to avoid stains and dyes when possible.
White Oak and/or Ash are readily available, are easy to machine, and
relatively low cost.
Boiled Linseed Oil provides a nice oiled finish as is or can be over
coated with poly after it has cured.
First, find a good hardwood lumber yard near you (woodfinder.com may
help in that regard, also look in the yellow pages under "lumber",
"hardwood", and "sawmills"). Home Depot's selection is poor--they'll
have some red oak and some soft maple for excessive prices. If there's
a Woodcraft near you they generally have a good selection but limited
quantity and very high prices.
If you're trying to emulate the Wright "look", fumed white oak finished
with boiled linseed oil was the most common material and a glossy finish
was generally shunned (if you've seen Wright furniture with a glossy
finish don't assume that the finish was original--one study of furniture
in a Wright house determined that somebody had refinished a lot of it
If you're tempted to try this, googling "fuming oak" will get you a
number of descriptions of the process and if you have a subscription to
the Finewoodworking site there's a good article there that also shows
the effect on other woods. Note that red oak (the kind you usually find
at Home Depot) tends to turn green when fumed).
Mahogany would also be "correct" for the style and era--takes a little
sealing to get a smooth glossy finish, but it's a very pleasant wood to
work with--until MDF came along it was a favorite of patternmakers
because it milled so cleanly. It also stains well but the natural color
is so good that it's pretty much pointless unless you're trying to match
Now, that said, there's no wood I know of that's readily available that
meets all your requirements. Oak takes stain well, is hard and easily
workable, but getting an even gloss on it takes effort. Walnut stains
evenly, is lovely to work with, and can be easily finished to a high
gloss, but its naturally dark color may prevent you from getting the
color you want from the stain. Hard maple (maple comes hard and soft
among other distinctions--the kind you find at Home Depot is soft) is
for a domestic wood quite hard (some of the tropical hardwoods are much
much harder, as is osage orange if you can find it), is easily finished
to a gloss, works well, but stain tends to be blotchy. Beech, which
someone else recommended, may be fine--it's not readily available around
here so I've never had a chance to work with it.
As has been hinted at, where you live will determine a lot of what your
choices are. The suggestion on the cabinet shop is a very good one.
Depending on what you have in your shop, and being a newbie its probably not
a lot, buying rough lumber and planing it yourself is always a good idea -
not to mention a lot cheaper.
The suggestion on oak and ash needs a qualifier. Oak has a very pronounced
grain and large pores, so figure on using a grain filler with it.
Ash, which is one of my favorite woods, has a problem when routing. You
have to rout with the grain, or do a "climb cut" or it has a strong tendency
to split out on you.
If it is available, I would definitely go with the cherry, with walnut being
a good second choice - though it is softer than cherry.
If you need something that is hard, then oak and cherry. If you need a
hardwood, you could add ash and walnut to your choices.
Er, no; walnut is harder than cherry. Not but much, but it IS harder.
Not sure what kind of "cherry" you're talking about, but regular American
typically) cherry is one of the softer hardwoods out there, certainly of all the
discussed in this thread so far.
"Our beer goes through thousands of quality Czechs every day."
(From a Shiner Bock billboard I saw in Austin some years ago)
I agree with everything Robert said about Beech. It is a joy to work
with and is pretty much a chameleon when stained. On that note, it
generally stains more evenly than maple and is usually cheaper. On that
note :-), like everyone else said, find a hardwood supplier.
2nd suggestion: Birch for about the same reason listed above and it's a
bit harder than beech and about the same hardness as maple.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
If you are going to stain it, maybe a plain old pine board is all you need.
If you use a wood like cherry, walnut, oak, they look good in their natural
state with an oil finish. Don't pay for exotic wood and then cover it up.
Look for a dealer in hardwoods rather than a lumber yard that carries
Hard = hickory. Works and finishes fine, relatively cheap and easy to come
The heart wood is brown, pretty grain without being oppressive. Sap wood is
white, looks nice, should stain well but I don't know as I don't stain.
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