strong, cheap wood?

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Forum topic by Peter5 posted 02-22-2011 10:52 PM 13643 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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66 posts in 2797 days

02-22-2011 10:52 PM

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

328 posts in 2913 days

#1 posted 02-22-2011 10:55 PM

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


191 posts in 2682 days

#2 posted 02-22-2011 10:57 PM

Tulip poplar is a good structural wood.

-- "Big Timber is our Legacy" ,

View Peter5's profile


66 posts in 2797 days

#3 posted 02-22-2011 10:59 PM

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


1580 posts in 3755 days

#4 posted 02-22-2011 11:09 PM

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


10373 posts in 3641 days

#5 posted 02-22-2011 11:26 PM

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


726 posts in 2952 days

#6 posted 02-22-2011 11:41 PM

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 3350 days

#7 posted 02-22-2011 11:50 PM


View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2964 days

#8 posted 02-23-2011 12:03 AM

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.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#9 posted 02-23-2011 01:33 AM

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

328 posts in 2913 days

#10 posted 02-23-2011 01:50 AM

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 2648 days

#11 posted 02-23-2011 03:13 AM

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 2771 days

#12 posted 02-24-2011 07:22 AM

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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