finding right wood for restoring woodworking in my older home

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Forum topic by Tim Roland posted 08-13-2011 03:25 AM 898 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tim Roland

4 posts in 2502 days

08-13-2011 03:25 AM

This is the first time I have ask for help, I’m new to this so my problem is I’m restoring my old woodworking in my house which was built in the 1920’s. the wood beautiful. the only problem is that it is douglas fur. I live in Iowa and you can’t buy it here. A sawmill near by said to use soft maple. any suggestions on what I could use. They have used shellac as a finish. I have never used shellac. It’s got a real dark color to the wood. It looks like its been stained, but I was told the more coats of shellac you apply the darker it gets. thanks for your help everyone!

-- Tim Roland

4 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2807 days

#1 posted 08-13-2011 03:59 AM

Hi Tim, You may be in for a real challenge if your trying to match that natural finish doug fir patina. I have used yellow pine without problems. I t will likely come closer to matching than any white wood you might use. As for maple, yeah maybe but wouldnt be my first choice. ( Im guessing they have maple on hand, right). What are you going for ? Are you trying to match origional inegrity ? Are you sure shellac was used on your molding ?

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3066 days

#2 posted 08-13-2011 04:27 AM

You need something that will match the grain of old growth douglas fir and the only thing that I can think of is old growth douglas fir. It has a unique grain the maple certainly won’t match – and I doubt if pine would either.

It was probably finished with varnish originally, but there’s no telling what’s been applied to it over 80+ years. Varnish definitely darkens with age.

One approach would be to remove the original molding from a bedroom or two, and re-use it in the “public spaces” (i.e. living/dining rooms, etc.). Then you could use new moldings in the bedroom(s) and everything would look uniform.

Another option would be to find old growth doug fir from a salvage yard (bring a fat checkbook), have it milled and finished by someone who is good at matching finishes.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3710 days

#3 posted 08-13-2011 04:37 AM

I would think that soft maple and doug fir are too far apart to mimic each other. Are you replacing frames, moldings or some other feature built from douglas fir? I’d much rather work with maple, but I think to get everything to match you should track down some fir.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3145 days

#4 posted 08-13-2011 04:50 AM

We have DF were in the NW like crazy, Many an old house here has CMG (clear mix grain) that can have a wild look to the grain but if you pick it with care can be amazing. Most good lumberyards here in Seattle try to have stock that is from the same tree so we can get the same or close look for each room. CMG is cheaper than VG by far and was the choice for homes in the 20s. See my 1910 craftsman job to see the wood we get for this kind of work.

-- $tudie

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