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  1. #1
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    Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    I'm currently in the planning stages for my first hardwood project. It's going to be a nightstand w/ drawers. My current plan is to use Red Oak. It's inexpensive and is reportedly an easy hardwood to work with. But, since the top corners are going to be dovetails and any other horizontal boards will be joined with through mortice/tenons, I'm begining to think about using contrasting woods to bring them out. Obviously Ebony, Tulipwood and other exotics are out. But, I'm sure I have other choices. So, for all you experienced woodworkers, what's your top 5 list for inexpensive, easy to work hardwoods?

  2. #2
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    You kinda lost me on the dovetail part but....

    "Inexpensive" is highly subjective and prices vary so much from one part of the country to another it's nearly impossible to answer your question.

    Personally, I don't use Red Oak at all for furniture work. As far as my Top 5 favorite woods, White Oak heads the list, followed by Eastern Black Cherry, any of the hard Maples, Mahogany, and Gaboon Ebony....

    Unless you are veneering, one has to be very careful when combining different woods on a single piece because of movement issues. FWIW.

    Dano

  3. #3
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    Maybe he's speaking in terms of wanting to do one side a light color then the next a dark and so on. To quote someone's sig "This is just my opinion, I could be wrong".

  4. #4
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    I really have only two domestic favorites - cherry (eastern, black) and maple (hard). I've done a lot with red oak, and I think either would look a little odd contrasting against the oak because of the visual grain conflict. The only way I could visually resolve that conflict would be to use the oak for panels & cherry or maple for stickwork.

    The combination of cherry & maple together in a single piece is NICE. :)

    OK, OK, OK. So I like black walnut a lot, too. That might be a close middle ground for grain contrast against the oak, but the color difference is pretty extreme.

    -- Tim --

    The more aware we become,
    The better we realize
    That each of us is,
    On the whole,
    Right smack in the middle
    Of "average".


  5. #5
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    >Maybe he's speaking in terms of wanting to do one side a
    >light color then the next a dark and so on. To quote
    >someone's sig "This is just my opinion, I could be wrong".

    My idea is to join a dark wood with a light wood using dovetails, so the pattern sticks out more. The pins will be dark while the tails will be light, or vice versa. Same with the M/Ts. If I'm going to go throught the trouble of carving them by hand, I want people to see them.

    But Dan, what problem do you have with Red Oak?

    Are cherry and walnut easy to work with? What about Mahogany? How well does White and Red oak work together?

    As for expensive, I guess I can be the only one who can decide how much money I want to spend, but anything on the low end (~<$10/board foot) should fit the bill.

  6. #6
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    I'm still lost on the dovetail part; are talking you drawer work?

    I don't really have a problem with Red Oak, I just don't use if for furniture work. Too open grained and not as stable as other hardwoods.

    Cherry works extremely well, particularly in handwork. If one machines it, you have to be careful as it burns easily. For the most part Mahogany works well too. The caveat being that there are so many woods sold as Mahogany, that really aren't. The true Mahoganies (Philippine, Honduran, and African) are, for the most, part very easy to work. The exception would be African Mahogany, it does have an interlocking grain, which can be a challenge where planes are used.

    I can only think of one joint where carving is involved, the Bermuda cogged dovetail. So, it's far easier to use the appropriate cutting tools when milling out joints and as long as they are sharp, executing them shouldn't really be that much of an issue....FWIW.

    Dano

  7. #7
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    >I'm still lost on the dovetail part; are talking you drawer
    >work?
    >
    >I can only think of one joint where carving is involved, the
    >Bermuda cogged dovetail. So, it's far easier to use the
    >appropriate cutting tools when milling out joints and as
    >long as they are sharp, executing them shouldn't really be
    >that much of an issue....FWIW.
    >
    >Dano

    Thanks for the wood info.

    The dovetails aren't for the drawers, although I may use them for drawer work. The idea is to join the two sideboards to the top with dovetails. That way the top corners have a dovetail pattern. Any horizontal boards, whether on the bottom or between the drawers will be joined to the sideboards with though Mortice & Tenon joints. The point is to make the joinery part of the design. Hence, the plan to use light and dark woods. I'm not sure what I'm going to make the drawers out of.

    If you look at the "Completed Projects" board you'll see my post "Boxes 1-3". Look at the last box and imagine it on it's side, taller and with drawers in it. That's sort of what I'm going for.


  8. #8
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    My top five favorite hardwoods (other than exotics) are Walnut, Quarter Sawn White Oak, Hard Maple, Eastern Black Cherry and Mahogany (Any of them...) Like some of the others I don't really care for red oak.

    As far as contrasting woods goes, Maple and Walnut or Cherry and Walnut look great together IMHO. I'm not a carver but based on my limited knowledge I'd recommend sticking with Cherry Walnut or Mahogany if you're planning on doing some carving because they're a bit "softer" and easier to work by hand.

  9. #9
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    Just my dos centavos, but, I have not found any contrasting wood that I liked with Red Oak. It seems to be one of those woods that needs to be by itself. Nothing wrong with using Red Oak for a nightstand.

    Nothing wrong with using Pine for the nightstand either - every nightstand in my house is made of Pine, though I did not make any of them. You might want to consider Pine for this first one.



  10. #10
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    RE: Top 5 Hardwoods for a Newbie

    Maybe the difference between end grain and long grain of the same species will give you sufficient contrast.
    I don't know, obviously, what look you are going for in terms of contrast.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I have never seen a traditional construction like this done in the way you suggest..
    My concern would be that the differing species would react to climatic changes with different rates of movement, which on the sides/top of a nightstand may cause severe distortion.


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