Cons of mixing softwoods with hardwoods

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Forum topic by siavosh posted 12-03-2013 03:15 AM 2886 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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674 posts in 1957 days

12-03-2013 03:15 AM

Are there any special considerations in building woodworking pieces (I’m thinking of a dovetailed box) that mixes both softwoods and hardwoods? I’m thinking of making a box out of combination of walnut, cherry, alaskan cedar. Most pieces I’ve seen are either all hardwood or all softwood. Thanks.

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7 replies so far

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2373 days

#1 posted 12-03-2013 03:26 AM

Not really, other than the different seasonal expansion/contraction rates of the various species (not specific to mixing hardwoods and softwoods). Of course, softwoods are generally less durable than hardwoods, which might be a consideration if you were building something that could see a lot of surface wear. Probably not a big deal for a box.

-- John, BC, Canada

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2270 days

#2 posted 12-03-2013 03:52 AM

Go for it. A box isn’t big enough to make seasonal expansion a big deal. If I were doing dovetails with those woods, I’d make the cedar the pins, as they can compress into the walnut or cherry tails to fill up space for a tight dovetail.

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

View bondogaposis's profile


4899 posts in 2438 days

#3 posted 12-03-2013 04:34 AM

There is no good reason you can’t do this. When dovetailing softwoods you notice it is a little mushy compared to hardwood, it’ll compress a bit and make some tight joints as Shamp suggests.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Rick S.

10144 posts in 3119 days

#4 posted 12-03-2013 05:43 AM

None Whatsoever! Just DO IT!!

-- If it wasn't for Electricity, We'd all be Watching Television by Candlelight!

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1957 days

#5 posted 12-03-2013 06:51 AM

Thanks! The mixed wood project will continue…

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View MrRon's profile


4928 posts in 3330 days

#6 posted 12-04-2013 05:15 PM

I would arrange it so that the pins are hardwood and the tails were softwood. Hardwood pins would be stronger.

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Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2937 days

#7 posted 12-04-2013 05:37 PM

I’ll add my voice to the “go for it” crowd and append this:

I think there are combinations that work and combinations that don’t. As a woodworker, I wouldn’t mix softwoods with hardwoods, but I allow that, artistically, it can be exactly the right thing to do.

To my eye, color is more important than label. Mix a light colored wood with walnut? Maple is just too white. Alder, however, has the right amount of warmth. Walnut dowels on a cherry piece? Doesn’t seem to work for me, but ebonize something and put it there and it makes the cherry pop with joy.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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