Need your help determining what type of wood to use

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Forum topic by JoelB posted 01-02-2011 06:36 AM 1542 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 3610 days

01-02-2011 06:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hi there,

I am about to start on a rather large entertainment center for my living room and would love to get some input before I start spending $$ on wood. This is the look that I am after…a deep red-wine look. The link lists that particular piece as walnut wood with red mahogany stain.

I have been reading tons of posts that seem to liken staining nice woods as a criminal act, and I’d prefer to go with as simple approach as possible to finishing my project…so I’d like to get your input as what wood/finish combination might give a color close to what is in that link without having to hang my head in shame as I finish the piece. I ultimately want a glossy finish on the piece…almost as if it was dripping wet but without the runs :)

Thanks in advance,


18 replies so far

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18 posts in 3610 days

#1 posted 01-02-2011 06:50 AM

Here is another example of what I am after…this was done with rosewood

View lew's profile


12500 posts in 3993 days

#2 posted 01-02-2011 05:23 PM

I think painting nice wood is a criminal act- staining, not so bad. Stains can enhance the grain and wood character. Gloss lacquer or gloss oil based poly can give you the shiny wet look.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3065 days

#3 posted 01-02-2011 05:28 PM

In my personal opinion, I would go with cherry or mahogony just because they are relativley in-expensive compared to others and they both get darker with exposure to UV rays. If you go to the wood whisperers lastest blog post about half-way through the video he picks up his stool and shows you what color mahogony turn with exposure to UV rays a nice dark red color like what you are looking for. But that is just my personal opinion.


View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 3030 days

#4 posted 01-02-2011 05:40 PM

I would go with the cherry. Cherry is nice to work with, relatively inexpensive, takes a stain well, and could patina to the look you want.
I wanted to support lew, in the comment above. Staining “Nice wood” is not criminal. Painting nice wood isn’t either, but I do not like seeing paint on most hardwoods.

-- Mel,

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3578 days

#5 posted 01-02-2011 05:57 PM

alder ?

cheaper than cherry

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3303 days

#6 posted 01-02-2011 06:29 PM

I haven’t tried staining lighter woods so I can tell you by my experience…I worked with mahogany and cherry and the mahogany really took a darker looking patina like you are looking for. I did both stained and unstained and mahogany took on a darker tone in both instances.

I am interested to find out how to use stock like David suggests or poplar? That would really be cheaper.

View JoelB's profile


18 posts in 3610 days

#7 posted 01-02-2011 06:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestions thus far everyone. I am not so sure about the mahogany. I did a couple of desks out of mahogany (african) and then stained it rosewood color. The color of the natural mahogany was too light for me. And it started out almost pinkish-brown in color. Yes, it did darken up quite a bit in the sun, but it did not darken and redden like I had hoped…hence the stain. The rosewood stain was a welcome addition, but the open pore nature of the mahogany…well…kinda sucked for a first timer.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4243 days

#8 posted 01-02-2011 06:55 PM

I’d first discourage the high gloss finish just from my own personal perceptions of what a classic piece of woodwork should look like. If i couldn’t do that i’d suggest sticking to a closed pore wood like Maple to achieve the look you’re after.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3288 days

#9 posted 01-02-2011 11:28 PM


Instead of trying to convert walnut to something it isn’t (wine red), try something thaT IS. Mahagony can be made red, it works beautifully, is beautiful, but is really pricey. Walnut isn’t cheap either and works well, but isn’t red and would be a job to get what you want. Bloodwood (Satine; Broscimium rubescens) is red, works beautifully, is strong and hard, and can be had for around $5 a board foot. Check it out on or look at my humble project. Sanded through 600 and waxed with beeswax/bol mixture. No other finish. If you like, check out, or if they’re closer to you, Both have it @ around $5/bd.ft.

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3563 days

#10 posted 01-02-2011 11:38 PM

If you like grain – red oak is a lot cheaper than cherry or mahogany and it stains like a dream. But if you don’t want the grain… then cherry is a very nice choice. It smells really nice when you cut it (not like red oak – it almost smells like vomit to me!)

Don’t go for maple unless you are a finishing “freak”. It will drive you mad!

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3685 days

#11 posted 01-03-2011 03:36 AM I suggest red oak and water soluble dyes. Fairly simple to do and if you play with it long enuff you will achieve what you are after. This isnt exactly the color your looking for but it was close to what i was trying to achieve at the time.

-- RKWoods

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3312 days

#12 posted 01-03-2011 04:58 AM

IMO, fussy made the best suggestion on this board when he suggested bloodwood. I have never seen it for $5.00/bf. It is usually a bit more than that where I buy it but it is a great wood. I would use it with no stain. It has a rich, dark red look to it and most pieces have some nice grain. However, the grain is not dominate.

I believe another name for it is “Hormigo rojo”

Another, slight more expensive, option is Bubinga. It is about the same color as Bloodwood but it usually has a more pronounced grain.

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

View JoelB's profile


18 posts in 3610 days

#13 posted 01-03-2011 05:05 AM

Thank you all for your input. I will try to find the bloodwood at a place local to me. shows that a place not too far from me has some. What a cool website…never even knew about it. It seems that the bloodwood is only available as planks…I was hoping for sheetgoods…but you cant have everything I guess. I did find 4×8 bloodwood veneer, but it was $250 per sheet which is well outside of my budget for this project. I am going to have to rethink how to make this piece.

I did see some dark stained cherry…looked quite nice.

In general…is there an online resource that shows what different species looks like with different finishes on them? I have been using google images…but just looking for some pointers.

Thanks again everyone.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3306 days

#14 posted 01-03-2011 05:09 AM

I just did a small bathroom vanity in beech finished with Minwax Honduras Mahogany stain/poly. It took two coats and it was a bit difficult to get even coverage, but it came out great. The customer loved it, but she had to since she wants to stay in the will. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Drew's profile


350 posts in 3337 days

#15 posted 01-03-2011 05:14 AM

I think I would start with Sapele.

Padauk might get close to that but might start off to orange for you.


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