Simple Paulownia Casework

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Project by bobro posted 02-28-2015 11:56 AM 1221 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The challenge I’m working on is an approach to casework with hand tools and traditional joinery in all solid wood, but very inexpensive, quick, and wood from the local “Borg” (unless someone wants to pay me to mill from rough by hand, which is the most fun of all).

So it’s 18mm paulownia boards from a German company/middleman. It’s called “Do-It Wood”, and comes in paulownia, fir/spruce, acacia, beech, birch and bamboo composite. The boards are milled to thickness and flatness with great accuracy, while edges and squareness seem to vary according to the various sources. The paulownia in sloppily dimensioned and has to be squared on all edges, but when it’s Norwegian spruce it’s dead-on S6S and so on. The boards come glued up from 20 cm to several feet wide. The hardwoods are glued from short pieces, which is Quite ugly IMO for anything but, say, kitchen and work surfaces, but the paulownia and fir/spruce fortunately come in full lengths up to 2.2 meters. This looks great for more charming/rustic kind of work, and of course under paint or heavy stain.

This is significantly cheaper, faster, and higher quality than plywood in my circumstances.

Accents here are beech and trivially easy to make as all manner of milled small beech dowels and sticks are available in the crafts section.

I’d call the style “country-kitchen Arts and Crafts”. Not visible in the picture are the ends of the stretchers, which are also all dovetailed, making a dozen tails a side.

The drawer is French construction, dovetailed all around with t+g bottom (with the butt sticking out the lower back to allow for expansion of course) and a false front. But side-mounted.

Pictures taken by my 10-year old, as the android phone thingy does not respond to my fingers.

Thanks for taking the time to check it out.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

4 comments so far

View R_Stad's profile


369 posts in 1264 days

#1 posted 02-28-2015 03:53 PM

Nice work – joinery is nice and tight. That piece will be around a long time. Well done.

-- Rod - Oregon

View robscastle's profile


3315 posts in 1625 days

#2 posted 02-28-2015 08:47 PM

Paulowina you say?
What was the reason for using it please?
It also appears your son has problems with the android phone there are four other nice pictures missing !

Exceptionally well made !!.....(from the photos supplied…hint hint!)

-- Regards Robert

View BCDesign's profile


514 posts in 843 days

#3 posted 02-28-2015 11:00 PM

This is really nice!well done!

-- "The secret of getting ahead is getting started" Mark Twain

View bobro's profile


308 posts in 731 days

#4 posted 03-01-2015 10:14 AM

Thanks, guys.

There are only two practical and affordable possibilities in my circumstances to use sheet stock- “fir/spruce”, that is, white woods, or paulownia. Been wanting to try paulownia for ages, and now that it’s available I jumped on it.

In some ways it’s the easiest wood to work, being the second lightest and softest wood in the world after all, but in other ways it’s very difficult because chiselling the end grain cleanly is a pain, except in the more tan-colored heartwood, which is a joy to work in every way. There’s little of that in this plantation-grown wood, though.

Other reasons to use paulownia over fir/spruce is that it’s prettier and much easier to finish. I’m using a water-based child-safe finish which also comes in various tints. This doesn’t blotch nearlly as much on the various white woods, pine etc, like stain does, but it takes a lot of prep, raising the grain, sanding, building up a finish. Paulownia on the other hand is a hardwood- a little hair raised on the first coat, two or three coats and you’re fine.

I’ll try to get some better pictures, heh.

Oh- here you can see the wood that’s at the Borg here:

The paulownia works out to about 2 euros a board foot, the white wood less, which sounds like a lot if you’re in the US, but if you were to see the miserable selection and high prices around here, you’d agree that it’s okay. (I’m in the “formerly sociaist republic” of Slovenia). Otherwise I get raw lumber from a country mill, and that’s priced well by anyone’s measure, works out to less than a buck fifty for 5/4 cherry and so on.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

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