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help with wood choice for picture frames..

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Forum topic by Camper posted 08-21-2010 06:16 PM 2792 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Camper

232 posts in 2323 days


08-21-2010 06:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

Hi everyone! My better half decided that I needed to make three picture frames to replace the ones she bought 6 months ago. It seems like the frames are all smashed around the corners. Below is a picture to give you an idea of the design. They are 12×18. I am not planning to change it much except maybe to put some spline miters. At the end they will be stained fairly dark to match the furniture.

My question is what type of wood to use and what finish would be appropriate. I only have experience with pine and finishing with water based stain and poly. I have had decent results this way but looking to try my luck with another type of wood. Aspen, poplar, maple and red oak is locally available at box stores but I am not against ordering something else online if it makes a big difference. I have checked out the projects section and seen that people have used just about every kind out there. I guess I am wondering if a particular wood is better suited for my level of experience (or inexperience) and what would be a matching finish.

Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.

-- Tampa-FL


12 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile

SnowyRiver

51452 posts in 2947 days


#1 posted 08-21-2010 06:52 PM

I would use oak, although just about any wood will work. Oak may be a bit more stable since the pieces are narrow. I think the use of a water based stain and poly will work just fine for picture frames.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2542 days


#2 posted 08-21-2010 07:15 PM

I would stay away from the softer woods, Poplar and Aspen. Oak is a very course grained wood. In my opinion, it is a little too course for a small piece like this.

Maple (if it is a hard maple) is a great wood but it is very light. If your ultimate objective is to have a dark finish I think it is better to start with a dark wood.

I recommend Walnut. It is great to work with. It is naturally dark and if you want it a little darker you can easily stain it. I’m surprised it is not available in your big box stores. You may be able to get some at a local lumber yard. It’s also easy to buy online, but shipping costs can be an issue.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View sittingbuller's profile

sittingbuller

16 posts in 2466 days


#3 posted 08-23-2010 01:23 AM

I agree with Rich. Walnut would be a great choice for this project. It is easy to work with, finishes nicely and is dark to begin with.

Joe

-- Requirements for woodworkers: Sharp mind, sharp wit, sharp tools.

View Vicki's profile

Vicki

1043 posts in 2811 days


#4 posted 08-23-2010 06:01 AM

I’ve never seen walnut in the box stores, but Woodcraft would have it. You can also check Craigslist.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View Camper's profile

Camper

232 posts in 2323 days


#5 posted 08-23-2010 04:25 PM

so I went to the box stores and they are asking for $1/foot for 1X2 stock of red oak. That’s about $6 bf. I searched through the 6-8 ft boards they had and could not find a single one that was straight throughout.

Looked into getting some walnut from mail order companies. If I were to get it rough and min of 30 bf, it would make sense cost-wise. I can always do some other projects with the rest of it. The difficulty there is I have a router, table saw and a planer so I am not sure how I would dimension the wood without a jointer. Any suggestions there?

Looked at a local craft store and walnut was $10 bf S2S.

Thanks for your suggestions and time.

-- Tampa-FL

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2542 days


#6 posted 08-23-2010 05:06 PM

In general, walnut seems to be less inclined to warp or curl. While I cannot guarantee it, it seems likely that a planer is all you will need to properly dimension good walnut. In a worst case scenario you can always glue some straight strips along the edges before running it through the planner. You cut them off after you have a perfectly flat piece.

I agree that $6/bf is too high for basic red oak.

I’d gladly pay $6/bf for some good walnut with little, if any, sapwood. It’s a great looking dark wood and it is very easy to work with.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Gofor's profile

Gofor

470 posts in 3254 days


#7 posted 08-24-2010 04:13 AM

Use poplar, spray it with a coat of clear lacquer (i.e. Deft wood finish in the spray can) and then coat it with minwax walnut poly stain (the stuff that has the stain included in the poly coating). Pine will also work and is cheaper. If you have the tools, SYP (Sothern Yellow Pine, the pine that is in the larger boards like the 2×8’s etc) is better than the SPF (Spruce, Pine, Fir white wood in the smaller construction lumber in the big-box stores like Lowes or Home Depot) and cheaper, but you invest your time.

The easiest way is to use walnut and just clear lacquer spray it, but if it is not available locally, the shipping cost may drive it out of your price range.

The cost of cheap red oak at the Borgs is ridiculous.

Go

-- Go http://ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=730

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Camper

232 posts in 2323 days


#8 posted 08-26-2010 04:01 AM

my search for wood continues….do you think this is a red hot deal or should I stay away from #2 #3 common wood? Thanks again

-- Tampa-FL

View Gofor's profile

Gofor

470 posts in 3254 days


#9 posted 08-26-2010 04:14 AM

You have more waste with #2 and #3 common, but that is why it is cheap. Steve Wall has a good reputation from most of the people around here (I live in NC about a 5 hr drive from Mayodan). If using #2/#3 common, order at least 1/3 more than you need for the project, and double if you can.

However, you may want to check into the UPS bundles, but they are usually limited to 20 bf. 100 bf means you will probably have to go to a freight terminal to pick it up.

Go

-- Go http://ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=730

View woodjewelry's profile

woodjewelry

49 posts in 2375 days


#10 posted 08-26-2010 10:02 AM

Hi,

What kind of wood for a frame, I would use black alder, it tends to stay flat, it machines easily. it takes a dark stain well (just sand to at least 600 grit or scratches will show up with the dark stain) and is cheep! Oak and walnut would also be great, you could also use ash and stain it black. If you want take a look at one of my websites for replica antique frames , all the mouldings shown are made from black alder of lime, lime would be a bad choice in your case as its hard to stain dark brown and is a bit soft.

-- Mark, Lithuania, http://www.woodworkers-online.com

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Camper

232 posts in 2323 days


#11 posted 08-27-2010 02:51 AM

Go, thanks for the response, actually all I “need” is for a few picture frames so its more than enough. I have some other projects I have in mind I can use the wood for. My concern is, I will be receiving what I estimate to be 400 lb of wood taking up around 10-15 cubic foot of space and I am not even sure how to store it properly in a 2 car garage with all my tools and the hop scotch :). Being a weekend warrior it would take me months if not more than a year to actually use it all up. I may go with the bundles or maybe find a local person selling lumber.

Mark, thanks for the alternative suggestion. Any wood other than pine is a new experience for me. Of course I have never seen alder advertised locally but it definitely is cheaper from mail order places. I am getting the feeling that just about anything would do, except some are easier(better) to finish than others.

-- Tampa-FL

View Camper's profile

Camper

232 posts in 2323 days


#12 posted 09-06-2010 06:13 AM

Hi All, finally got some walnut locally on Friday and got to working this weekend. I will post some pictures soon. Thanks for all the recommendations. I am sure all of them would have worked out fine but I think walnut will save me the staining step and still look great.

-- Tampa-FL

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