Type of wood based on finish?

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Forum topic by Hawkes posted 03-23-2016 01:36 AM 530 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Hawkes's profile


8 posts in 759 days

03-23-2016 01:36 AM

Hello everyone. I’m essentially new to woodworking so I have a lot of basic questions, but the one that is holding me up at the moment is deciding on what wood to use based on the finish. My wife wants a desk built for my daughter’s bedroom to be painted white to match the bedroom furniture. The bedroom furniture has a melamine type appearance to it. I’m trying to decide between a hardwood plywood or just use MDF?

Second question is, I saw a type of white wash stain that Minwax has that is white, but slightly shows the grain. If she looks at that and says she likes it better, I’m thinking of using maple or pine.

Thoughts? I have to assume it makes sense to choose the wood based on the finish you want.



2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1346 posts in 884 days

#1 posted 03-23-2016 03:30 AM


I like to pick the project materials based on how the project is used (or could be abused) and the finish. Your assumption to choose the project materials based on the finish you want is the direction I go.

MDF is a good choice if it is to be painted. It takes paint well. Although dusty, it can result in tear-out free cuts and the edges can be banded for protections or a profile milled directly into the MDF. If banded with hardwood, sanding to flush-up the edge banding can be readily done. Also MDF is hard enough to withstand the ravages of the indentations left in wood by the ball point pen. However, a little thought is required to ensure sturdy and durable joints.

Plywood can be a difficult material to work and a desk top can be easily indented by the pressure from a ball point pen. Extra care is required when cutting, especially across the veneer grain to avoid ugly tear out. Exposed edges can be pretty ugly so edge banding of some kind is generally required and making plywood’s surface and edge banding flush can be a challenge, depending on the style of edge banding chosen. A profiling router bit would probably eat up the edge of the plywood’s veneer so this is best avoided with edge banding. I would think a white wash finish would require edge banding to look nice. However, if the plywood is painted with square edges, the edges can be filled with wood filler and sanded smooth and, if done carefully, can look pretty good. Although probably dependent on the wood veneer selected, more or less telegraphing of the grain through the paint may be observed. Water based paint will raise the grain on plywood, as it will on any wood. Extra prep steps are needed to produce a smooth to the touch surface with water based finishes.

Since you said you are new to woodworking, buying a small piece of material you plan on using may be helpful. Apply whatever finish you plan to use on the material and let the boss have a look. If you are new to plywood, a few test cuts parallel to and across the grain and maybe doing a little edge banding can be informative and confirm that this is the material you want to ultimately use.

View Hawkes's profile


8 posts in 759 days

#2 posted 03-24-2016 04:55 PM

Thanks JBrow… good information and suggestions.


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