strong, cheap wood?

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Forum topic by Peter5 posted 1247 days ago 6517 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 1400 days

1247 days ago

I have a question for you all: If I don’t care about aesthetics but want a strong wood, what’s the best way to go? I’m building a piece where I need a strong support piece that will not be seen. I think Pine will be too soft and weak. So what should I use without wasting a piece of walnut that will never be seen?

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

12 replies so far

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

310 posts in 1517 days

#1 posted 1247 days ago

Ash is really strong (one of the strongest by weight, I believe) and around here, also really cheap… I can get it cheaper than pine.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View reberly's profile


151 posts in 1286 days

#2 posted 1247 days ago

Tulip poplar is a good structural wood.

-- "Big Timber is our Legacy" ,

View Peter5's profile


61 posts in 1400 days

#3 posted 1247 days ago

OK, awesome, thanks! I’ll see which of those two is cheapest at my local lumber yard.

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

View 8iowa's profile


1489 posts in 2358 days

#4 posted 1247 days ago

Take a look at Southern Yellow Pine. It’s heavy, very strong, and hard. It’s a common construction and flooring wood. It’s also abundant and inexpensive. If you were closer I’d give you some.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Loren's profile (online now)


7226 posts in 2245 days

#5 posted 1247 days ago

Douglas Fir is pretty tough and resilient. Deflection is about the
same as pine but toughness of what we get in So. Cal tends
to be more than the common pine we get here.


View Nomad62's profile


688 posts in 1555 days

#6 posted 1247 days ago

As important is the grain of the wood you end up using. Make sure the growth lines will reach from end to end, and that the piece is installed so the the surface that faced the outer edge as the tree grew will face up or down, not to a side.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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199 posts in 1954 days

#7 posted 1247 days ago


View crank49's profile


3336 posts in 1568 days

#8 posted 1247 days ago

Around here ash and hickory are usually used for firewood since Stanley moved their handle making business to China, but they are both very strong durable woods. Ash and hickorry usually stay straight and can absorb considerable impact as well. That’s partially why they were used for hammer handles.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View richgreer's profile


4522 posts in 1671 days

#9 posted 1247 days ago

I’d suggest Hackberry. It’s plentiful around here (Iowa), it’s very strong, it is essentially ugly and undesirable for aesthetic applications and it is may be the cheapest hardwood I know of.

It looks like a dirty white wood. Some people I know bleach it. Then it looks decent.

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

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

310 posts in 1517 days

#10 posted 1247 days ago

Doh! Don’t they know that God kills a kitten every time somebody burns hickory for firewood!

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View clafollett's profile


114 posts in 1252 days

#11 posted 1247 days ago

Too funny Keith!

I’m down here in Florida and only wish I could easily get my hands on some of that hickory!

-- Don't mind me, I'm just soaking up knowledge

View Lochlainn1066's profile


138 posts in 1374 days

#12 posted 1246 days ago

Ha, around here (southern MO) hickory is common enough that I don’t cringe when my dad burns it. It has the most energy value, hands down, of any common firewood.

I DO cry when he saws up and splits 2’ diameter clear, straight red oak boles, but only because I don’t have my bandsaw mill finished yet. Once I do I’ll make him take the nasty stuff and branches and give me the good stuff.

What really, really makes me cry is wind downed trees I just don’t have a chance to get to (or never see) before they rot.

-- Nate,

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