Mixing woods

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Forum topic by Byron posted 11-20-2011 07:28 AM 3224 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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92 posts in 2616 days

11-20-2011 07:28 AM

I was recently asked on one of my projects what my reasoning was on mixing woods, so I figured it would be a great topic to post in a forum.

How does everyone feel about mixing woods and what are good reasons you have done so or not?

Here is my response, If you’d like to see what was asked you can find it on my project “Demilune” as I do not want to repost someone else’s comment.

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

8 replies so far

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92 posts in 2616 days

#1 posted 11-20-2011 07:32 AM

The reason I went against my purist view of not mixing woods I wanted to experiment with the combination. I had been wanting to try this with White Oak and Mahogany especially. My two previous projects were solely Mahogany, one is still unfinished, and I am a big advocate of using only one wood. Combining woods is a tricky business to get into and unfortunately is greatly over used in my opinion. Was I successful with the combination in “Demilune”? I don’t know.

My inspiration of classical French and Italian forms were a large part of this decision. The Demilune is typically a highly decorated object with many inlays and highlighting details. I love Baroque and Rococo style furniture and Highly decorative elements. My goal was to take a part of this and simplify it down into an elegant form. I wanted the focal point to be the aprons, not the top.

The main concept behind my aprons were to angle them downward, in essence rotating the curve about 20 degrees at the center point of each apron. This created a compound angled joint, but besides the point I wanted this to be the focus not the top of the table. There is also some slight figure in the back of the table top where it would sit against the wall, I also included some sap wood here as well.

Here is one of my main sources of inspiration for this project created by Richard Newman, he is also a much admired maker, I was fortunate to have him as an intern professor this quarter. In my opinion he is one of the greatest woodworkers to live and has an insane amount of knowledge.

More of his work can be found in the archives on the Pritam & Eames website

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

View NormG's profile


6378 posts in 3240 days

#2 posted 11-20-2011 07:44 AM

Variety of woods produces many colors and really change how a project looks

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Schoey's profile


23 posts in 3711 days

#3 posted 11-20-2011 04:36 PM

Woodworking is an art. As with any art the mixing of colors and textures is a big part of the design. I guess a lot of it is the perspective of the artist. I look at some projects and ask myself…why? In others I say hmmm…that really works.

View popmandude's profile


109 posts in 3256 days

#4 posted 11-20-2011 04:50 PM

I love the contrast of light and dark woods together, but I have learned it has to be in the right spot, and in the right amount. I guess it has to do with balance or something. I wish I had a better artistic imagination for such things. Nothing worse than finding out it doesn’t work until after you are finished.

Good luck to all

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3076 days

#5 posted 11-20-2011 05:02 PM

Now where spalted and sapwood are excepted, I think we can break away from the traditional to the artistic.
We don’t have the selection traditional woodworkers once had.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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7689 posts in 3037 days

#6 posted 11-20-2011 05:21 PM

I’ve heard you shouldn’t mix beer and wine. Not sure if that applies to wood…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3311 days

#7 posted 11-20-2011 11:57 PM

I often make something with a primary wood and an accent wood. The accent wood is often an (expensive) exotic.

I think a mistake people make is to go for too much contrast (e.g. maple and walnut). I tend to favor more modest contrast (e.g. cherry accented with bloodwood).

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

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2723 days

#8 posted 11-21-2011 12:28 AM

I use contrasting woods because lately I’ve been a bit poor and unable to buy what I want, but Christmas presents for the grand kids still have to be made.
Presently I’m working on little boxes for the girls to hide their treasures in and the wood I have from our own property isn’t enough to do what I want so, one box is Texas Dark Cedar (So purple it’s almost black if I catch it before the light hurts it), mixed with some Pecan and Persimmon for the lid. It’s only 6”X6” so the thin strips work together nicely.
Another is Bodark, Chinaberry and Sycamore with a lid of Sycamore and white oak for the top.
Yet another is a portable writing desk for my 6 year old GK that is built from recycled red oak, Sycamore and white oak, (still in the cutting stages, if I screw up, that mixture could change).
The boys are getting little games and puzzles made of wood because they are younger.
One will get laminated building blocks made of White Oak and Black Walnut. One will get a small wood workers bench made from just about anything I have available, but it’s for an 8 year old so I don’t think it will matter to him too much. I’ll also include some real wood working tools like an old Disston cross cut saw, a Stanley block plane, sand paper, a real Vaughn hammer, an antique yankee drill, an antique coping saw, some Klein screw drivers I have had laying around for years but never used, lots of screws, bolts, box nails, some project plans that he might like to make, and as a plus…. a $25 gift card to Lowe’s or HD so he can get any wood or other stuff he wants.
Am I prejudiced toward him? Not really, he’s the oldest Grand son and has been interested in wood working since he was about 3. When the little ones get a little older they’ll start being brought into the fold, as soon as they don’t have underwear that folds and has pins or tapes.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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