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Wood hardness vs. cost ratio

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Forum topic by Emma Walker posted 03-27-2013 05:15 PM 1269 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Emma Walker

560 posts in 767 days


03-27-2013 05:15 PM

I’ve been wanting to find a chart of lumber hardness and price ratio.

Is Poplar harder than pine? How much more expensive is it than pine?

How about Willow or Ash?

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.


21 replies so far

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile

joeyinsouthaustin

1256 posts in 729 days


#1 posted 03-27-2013 05:23 PM

Alder is softer than poplar, but more expensive…. The question is confusing because in general there is not a significant correlation between hardness and price… many other factors, demand, rarity, location, use, purpose, availability…. all affect price??

-- Who is John Galt?

View treaterryan's profile

treaterryan

109 posts in 944 days


#2 posted 03-27-2013 05:26 PM

Hickory – Dirt cheap and HARD. I have not seen such a chart, and it would be hard to make one, because prices fluctuate as Joey mentioned. Lumber pricing is a confusing beast, as it depends on new housing starts, weather, and many other variables.

-- Ryan - Bethel Park, PA

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1048 posts in 676 days


#3 posted 03-27-2013 05:26 PM

Just what Joey said, no strong correlation between price/hardness.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1377 posts in 840 days


#4 posted 03-27-2013 05:39 PM

It’s easy to find lists of wood with the janka hardness rating online. It’s hard to find real-time price lists at lumber dealers for the reasons stated above. Your best bet is to go to a dealer with a good selection and ask for a price list. Maybe MacBeath would email you one? I dunno.

If you’re looking for a cheap, super hard wood, go with hickory, as Ryan sez. It’s got nice grain, doesn’t have open pores like oak, and is readily available. Some people hate working hickory, though. Note that pecan and hickory are distinct species, but both are sold as “hickory” because they’re so similar. It’s a lot like “white oak” and “red oak” where there are a ton of different species lumped together due to their similar characteristics.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 767 days


#5 posted 03-27-2013 05:42 PM

Thanks guys,

That’s kinda the answers I was expecting. I’d like to make a somewhat thick hard wood bench top. Sounds like hickory’s the winner.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1377 posts in 840 days


#6 posted 03-27-2013 06:18 PM

For a work bench top, hickory, oak, or ash are all about the same price and plenty hard. Keep in mind, though, that harder wood is also harder to mill and work.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Don W's profile

Don W

15037 posts in 1224 days


#7 posted 03-27-2013 09:42 PM

you’ll want some sharp tools to work dried hickory. What exactly do you plane to use the bench for? When its time for an anvil, its time for an anvil (or a piece of railroad tie).

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 767 days


#8 posted 03-27-2013 11:53 PM

DonW,

I watched a video on flattening a bench top by sliding a router mounted in a sled across 2 rails mounted on the sides of the bench top… using a 1 3/4 flat bit.

The bench top would be for a typical bench top. Do you have bench top plans using rail road ties?

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1377 posts in 840 days


#9 posted 03-28-2013 12:00 AM

I wouldn’t use a railroad tie for anything but a retaining wall, or a big surface to hit shit on outside. Creosote tar is not good for you.

You can flatten a bench that way, with the router, jig, and sled, but you can do it easier and without having to make any jigs with a hand plane, which I understand you know a lot about now. 8^)

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Don W's profile

Don W

15037 posts in 1224 days


#10 posted 03-28-2013 12:01 AM

i’m just saying you don’t need to worry about finding the hardest wood you can find for a woodworking bench top. You’d be surprised at how well a pine benchtop will stand up to normal woodworking. A nice ash or oak will work just fine.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5306 posts in 1255 days


#11 posted 03-28-2013 12:01 AM

Google janka scale. You should be able to get all the hardness info there. Cost is going to be a regional and market condition sort of thing.

View cutworm's profile

cutworm

1064 posts in 1450 days


#12 posted 03-28-2013 12:24 AM

Mine is SYP. Cheap and is holding up well.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 767 days


#13 posted 03-28-2013 12:28 AM

Shampoo… ;)

My delusional hand plane knowledge is fun while role playing as a knowledgeable ebay buyer asking a seller why their type 11 has a high knob and a kidney shaped key hole.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Tugboater78's profile

Tugboater78

1025 posts in 849 days


#14 posted 03-28-2013 12:29 AM

southern yellow pine is tough enough and cheap..im about to try to see if the yellow poplar joists and studs i took from a house i dismantled, will work for my bench :0 its over a century old. im worried it may be too brittle though..its hard, damn near impossible to drive a nail in..

-- Justin - the tugboat woodworker - " nothing changed me like the first shnick from a well sharpened, decent hand plane"

View TimberFramerBob's profile

TimberFramerBob

68 posts in 580 days


#15 posted 03-28-2013 12:29 AM

Janka scale :)

-- ..........a man who works with his hands, his brains, and his heart.....is an artist.

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