Misc. Shop Stuff #40: Another "It's Not Walnut" Moment

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 12-30-2013 06:18 AM 1584 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 39: Just Another Shop Cabinet DONE Part 40 of Misc. Shop Stuff series Part 41: Shop Art! »


So I did a table refurb that went into it’s second or third week before I realized it wasn’t walnut but mahogany. Well, early last summer my son bought a pile of scrap wood that included these old stair treads and risers.

Finally getting around to sorting some of the piles of wood moved and arranged for the shop floor project, and inspecting / stacking this material came to the forefront. Anyway…

I sorted the pieces by dividing risers from treads, and that’s when I noticed the build of the stairs was different than any I’ve seen before. All the risers had triangular notches in them, and each tread had a kind of trim piece still attached to their undersides. Stairs typically have a bead / trim detail at the juncture of tread and riser, but it’s not normally one that’s embedded 1/2” into the underside of the tread via dado.

Then the risers were attached to the treads via a couple of ‘pocket screws’ set into hand-chisel’d pockets. Very cool to consider the work put into this staircase. And not least. how sharp the chisel had to be the workman used to make these very clean cross-grain cuts.

I thought the stuff was walnut. But then realized it was much heavier, more dense, than walnut. Then it hit me: it’s mahogany, and I had been tricked a second time.

How much material? I counted 23 pieces at least 7” wide, 39” long and each a full 7/8” thick. Of that number, nine are treads nearly 10” wide. Very cool.

What to do with this stuff? Don’t know, but it’s getting properly stickered and stacked this week for a future project or two. Thanks for looking!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

16 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2753 days

#1 posted 12-30-2013 08:47 AM

Great wood to work with Smitty. Mahogany is my favorite wood to work with. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2199 days

#2 posted 12-30-2013 12:43 PM

And Smitty scores again !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Don W's profile

Don W

17872 posts in 1986 days

#3 posted 12-30-2013 12:46 PM

nice acquisition Smitty. That will be a special project for sure.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View chrisstef's profile


15459 posts in 2425 days

#4 posted 12-30-2013 12:58 PM

I mean what better than finding reclaimed walnut? Ohh that’s right, reclaimed mahogany. Jackpot!

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View theoldfart's profile


7934 posts in 1870 days

#5 posted 12-30-2013 01:10 PM

Smitty, think maybe stairs were shop built rather than on site?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View SPalm's profile


5249 posts in 3301 days

#6 posted 12-30-2013 01:30 PM

Nice score and interesting workmanship.
Not sure what to do with it, but that is cool stuff.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View GrandpaLen's profile


1643 posts in 1691 days

#7 posted 12-30-2013 02:06 PM


...just a couple pseudoclassic thoughts…

...if I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning…

If I had that stack of mahogany, I’d build a stairway for… Led Zeppelin

...or maybe a platform for… Jimi Hendrix, up in the Purple haze.
Excuse me, while I kiss the sky… and go to the kitchen for another cup of 30 weight. ...can’t seem to get focused this morning…

Have a Great day, I’m sure something will come to you.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6417 posts in 2017 days

#8 posted 12-30-2013 02:12 PM

Ahh, a sneak peak photo of the great stash.

I don’t know Smitty, if the picture with board cleaned up and a circular hole cut in it is the stock in question, kinda looks like walnut to me…lol

View terryR's profile


6230 posts in 1727 days

#9 posted 12-30-2013 02:28 PM

Nice score, Smitty! Love the stair detail…they sure don’t build ‘em like they used to! :)

Our home was built in 1867, right after the civil war. Tons of small details like that in all the joinery! Too bad it’s mostly covered with 100 years of paint.

That Mahogany was lucky it found YOU! :)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View AnthonyReed's profile


8569 posts in 1859 days

#10 posted 12-30-2013 02:56 PM

It could not have found a better home.

I love seeing craftsmanship like that. Thanks Smitty.

-- ~Tony

View Mauricio's profile


7115 posts in 2570 days

#11 posted 12-30-2013 03:43 PM

You suck Smitty! Nice score. The old school pocket holes are really cool.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Mauricio's profile


7115 posts in 2570 days

#12 posted 12-30-2013 03:44 PM

Oh and I would make a Paul Sellers style tool chest with some of that wood.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View dbray45's profile


3147 posts in 2196 days

#13 posted 12-30-2013 03:56 PM

I would be thinkin dresser and night tables.

Good score Smitty

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13569 posts in 2037 days

#14 posted 12-30-2013 05:03 PM

Makes me wish for a real resaw capability with this stuff. A frame and panel build approach to ‘whatever’ comes of this material would make it stretch further. A future bridge to cross, I suppose.

Len, I hope the additional coffee has you back on earth. Although getting lost in vintage rock lyrics isn’t a bad place to be either. :-) Some friends and I mess around with cover recordings and we’ve set our sites on a Magical Mystery Tour session early next year. Good times, making that music, but the pipes don’t easily reach the notes that were so easily attained by the Boys from Liverpool way back when.

Several of these pieces would make a most excellent replacement top for a tavern table refurb project that’s been on the back burner for ages. Actually, mahogany on that piece would totally rock; there are turned legs mixed with ‘finials’ of cast iron holding everything together. A very unique piece with drink holders and built-in, swivel ash trays. Gotta check dimensions…

Thanks everyone for the comments. Oh, and I asked my son if he remembers the winning bid for the woodpile that day. He thinks it was $5. So Maur, I gladly accept that “You Suck” praise. lol

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View AnthonyReed's profile


8569 posts in 1859 days

#15 posted 01-29-2014 02:55 PM

When will the tavern table make an appearance? Cast iron finials, swivel ashtrays… cool stuff.

-- ~Tony

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