The Stuff of Woodworking

Rob-Portrait351I have a bit of a strange question for you: What process do you go through when deciding what sort of lumber to use for a project? Personally, I find selecting lumber to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of woodworking. Sometimes it’s a process of discovery: “Hey, what the heck is that big chunk of wood in the corner?” (Likely it had been hidden under three pieces of MDF too big to just throw away and a couple of jigs that were constructed to work with my last table saw.) Other times it is a very deliberative process. I want to see quartersawn cherry door panels surrounded by plainsawn cherry stiles and rails. Sometimes the choice is imposed … a new coffee table in a room full of oak furniture and trim; I guess it is going to be made of oak. But even in a situation like this, I can’t resist pushing the envelope just a bit. Oak furniture it is … but with walnut or ebony accents?

In any case, I am interested in how you approach the subject. Is it strictly based on price? Is it a choice made by others in your family? (Say, perhaps a spouse with a strong sense of what would look right in the house?)

You get my drift. Let me know how you go about choosing lumber. I am sure there are as many approaches as there are woodworkers.

— Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

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