I want to use a different wood than pine

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Forum topic by distrbd posted 07-10-2013 08:56 PM 1835 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2252 posts in 2470 days

07-10-2013 08:56 PM

This is how it has been in my shop for the past 3-4 years:first I find a project that’s interesting to me or it’s on the honey do list,then I make a cut list,and go straight Home Depot and buy some pine.

Now that I want to get into experimenting with anything other than pine ,I just don’t know what type of wood should I be looking for .

I can get locally milled air dried maple,cherry,ash,cedar,oak. no more than $2 bdft,just want store some wood for whatever projects that come up in the future,like book cases,jewelry boxes,coffee tables etc.

I have never worked with maple but I have heard it’s tough/dense, ideal for work benches since it can take a lot of abuse,well that’s not good for me than,oak is probably the same,how about cherry ?ohh it’s so confusing.

How do you choose what type of wood to get,what motivates you to get one type over another?is it price ,availability,the project itself?

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

28 replies so far

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4006 days

#1 posted 07-10-2013 09:03 PM

My recommendation is to buy some of everything and get some experience. All of the wood types you mentioned r relatively easy to work. Give it a shot !

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2508 days

#2 posted 07-10-2013 09:18 PM

Don’t try to do it all at once. My suggestion is to look for any piece(s) of wood that really inspire you and take it home. If you’re not sure what to do with it, wait until it tells you what it wants to be.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

346 posts in 2485 days

#3 posted 07-10-2013 09:20 PM

I do alot of work in QS White Oak- its machines easy, its easy to work with hand tools, the only issue filing grain if desired. Its also very attractive with the flecks and straight grain cut.

I use poplay for any pieces that I paint, or as a secondary wood for web framing, drawer carcass, etc.

I actually find learning on soft woods like pine is frustrating since is doesn’t chisel all that well, so if you want to work on things like dovetails, through tenons or other intermediate work, it tends to rip and divot even with the shrpest tools. Also, staining pine blothches, so it is hard to get a nice finish of you desire to color the wood.

View greg48's profile


601 posts in 2781 days

#4 posted 07-10-2013 09:24 PM

Not all hardwood is hard, conversely not all softwood is soft. Perhaps instead of spending a lot of $ on a variety of species, perhaps you should try one specie for a project and see how you like it. If it doesn’t turn out as you expected, no great out of pocket loss and you have learned a valuable lesson. I started out with common low value hardwoods like birch and beech. Poplar is a soft workable wood but doesn’t have much in the way of color or figure. If this advice doesn’t work for you, then you have made a fair bargain, for you received exactly what you paid for. That’s my inflated $0.02

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View sgv's profile


266 posts in 1916 days

#5 posted 07-10-2013 10:01 PM

Have you tryed the grab boxes at Rocklers and Wood Crafters, I get them now and then for small projects, cheep, good wood for not a lot of $$

-- Tite Lines, May the wind be at your back

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2470 days

#6 posted 07-10-2013 10:34 PM

This seller has 4 or 5 different species of wood , he seem very flexible and motivated but after reading some unfavorable comments about non commercial kiln dried wood,I’m hesitant to buy from him:

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2600 days

#7 posted 07-10-2013 11:17 PM

You can’t go wrong with cherry.
It machines beautifully, smells great and looks amazing.
Walnut is another amazing wood.
Also, don’t forget soft maple; not as hard as hard maple (obviously) but looks just as nice.
The three woods I listed can be the starting point for a lot of projects. They all have roughly the same hardness, so they’ll be similar to work with.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#8 posted 07-10-2013 11:19 PM

Ya picks your wood to match the projects.
There is no pat answer to your post.
We build great stuff from pine, white and red oak.
Pine from the box stores is not a quality product for many projects. The pine we use is hundreds of years old, well seasoned, dried, and treated like gold. The “white wood” @ the borgs is stuff that was cut yesterday, sold today, warps a bunch, and leads to agony when used in a good project. We call it “squirrely lumber”. The squirrels were in it yesterday, it is on the truck today, and in the trash tomorrow.
I don’t intend to sound like a elitist, just don’t want you to be mislead.


View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#9 posted 07-10-2013 11:48 PM

Hi Ken I agree with what others have suggested choose a project than a wood. Your price range limits you some but at this stage you don’t need to use high end woods any way. Many folks move up to Oak from pine because it’s very common and can be purchased reasonably, large leaf maple (aka soft maple) falls in that price range too also poplar is on the lower end of the price range too. Start by making small projects with the wood you decide to try and then you won’t have a great loss if you don’t like the wood you have tried.
This sight has a lot of photos of different kinds of woods and their properties ,it can be very helpful.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2470 days

#10 posted 07-11-2013 01:12 AM

Thank you all for your inputs ,I have read and reread every one ,I’m just going to make a deal with the seller of the ad (post #6) and get some maple , cherry and ash. a few pieces of each ,try a small project with each one to see how I feel .I wouldn’t have come up with this decision if it weren’t for your replies .thank you again

PS .@sgv,unfortunately there’s no Rocklers/wood crafters around here.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2713 days

#11 posted 07-11-2013 01:36 AM

Excellent choice Ken. Just be sure and show us the outcome. You are gonna have fun!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View firefighterontheside's profile


18351 posts in 1880 days

#12 posted 07-11-2013 01:58 AM

There is pine and there’s pine. I really like working with southern yellow pine. It mills well, is harder than other pines and has a great natural amber color. Add oil based poly and it looks even better. You won’t find ot a home center though.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 2219 days

#13 posted 07-12-2013 04:09 PM

Additional thoughts Ken…

Yes…let the project dictate the wood.

Recommend you peruse many of the on-line wood sites…they’ll provide you with finished colors of the wood as well as brief descriptions of what those woods have been traditionally used for.

View helluvawreck's profile


31363 posts in 2890 days

#14 posted 07-12-2013 04:28 PM

I’m not sure where you live but there is probably a small manufacturer that makes architectural molding for builders and so forth within driving distance. If they are like we were they are more than willing to sell to the little guy. We had a large plant with five Weinig molders and ran architectural and shutter moldings for anyone who needed it. We also made our own knives so we did custom moldings as well. We had a large finished goods section where we had hundreds of different moldings in stock inside numerous ‘cubby holes’ or racks. We also stocked s4s lumber in most of the American cabinet woods. We sold to people who came in off the street even if they just wanted one piece. Our bread and butter was the moldings. We just sold the lumber for convenience to our customers. We made a small markup on lumber and charged a lot less than most people. Lumber wasn’t our bread and butter but we always had plenty of it on hand because we brought it in by the flatbed load; and a small markup was good enough for us. Unfortunately, last August we lost the plant do to fire. We had been in the wood and furniture manufacturing business for about 45 years. However, I’m sure there are people like us that are out there in most sections of the country. Our plant was about 40 miles north of Atlanta.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2470 days

#15 posted 07-12-2013 04:56 PM

Firefighter,I wish to get my hands on some yellow pine,most pine up here(rural ,Ontario,Canada)is mainly white.
Scrub,thanks for the tip,I have bookmarked a couple of sites.

Charles,what a shame it is to loose a wood/furniture manufacturing business to fire.I sincerely hope that the owners will have the will to rebuild.
I found a a similar wood manufacturing place called “Monaghan Lumber Specialties” not too far from where I live,I ‘m just not sure if they will take small orders from hobby woodworkers like me,I guess I can always ask although their prices seem much higher than the local small sawmill operators:

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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