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Magnolia: Suitable for woodworking/furniture?

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Forum topic by Buckethead posted 06-08-2014 03:15 PM 1101 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Buckethead

3140 posts in 1333 days


06-08-2014 03:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lumber magnolia stock question

Recently I happened by a site where a large magnolia had been taken down. The trunk had been left intact at over 9’ in length. It was just lying there, looking surprisingly beautiful. It had the color of walnut at the heart. Maybe 18” diameter of heartwood in a 24” trunk. This was the top, or skinny side.

My heart skipped a beat.

Now I don’t currently have the capacity to deal with it, but I have heard magnolia is basically useless. I’m doubting what I have heard. That was a beautiful hunk of wood.

I do recall hearing mention of using it as turning stock, but has anyone had any experience using magnolia as stock for furniture?

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.


18 replies so far

View woodchuckerNJ's profile

woodchuckerNJ

1154 posts in 1098 days


#1 posted 06-08-2014 03:22 PM

No experience.

I would not let what you heard stop you.
Cut it up using a chain saw, coat the ends, sticker it, weight it down, dry it.

If it is not good it will show up. You can always find a use.

If it is useless, maybe it will be good fire wood. But sometimes you get lucky.
Maybe trim.

-- Jeff NJ

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

22021 posts in 1803 days


#2 posted 06-08-2014 03:35 PM

Take it. I never pass up wood. Always something you can do with it.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 985 days


#3 posted 06-08-2014 04:01 PM

I have some magnolia in my shop now and I have used some in the past, but not for furniture. To me it looks a lot like poplar, but heavier and harder.

The color is the color of poplar without the green streaks and the other multiple colors that sometimes appear in poplar .. kind of yellow with a somewhat uninteresting grain. It’s possible the heart is darker, but none of the magnolia I had was dark. ..But I only had, probably, less than 100 bf. It’s possible that the dark heart could fade when it dries out.

I believe it’s easy enough to work and it seems to be pretty stable. If you decide to get it, I’d love to know about that dark center.

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1333 days


#4 posted 06-08-2014 04:03 PM

Thanks for the responses, guys.

Monte, one day I hope to be set up as you are, with a band saw mill. Right now I don’t even have a chainsaw. Just gave mine away to a friend. I could never keep it running despite the fact that I bought it new. I got one good use from it, then I could barely start it afterwards. (I’m not a complete dork regarding engines either. Not an expert, but can troubleshoot)

This question was really for future reference. Magnolias are all over the place where I live. Long, fat, straight trunks. They go to the dump most often when clearing occurs. (Although that’s true for the plentiful pines, oaks and sweet gums as well.)

Only when a high concentration of a species is present do I recall seeing the lumber utilized.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1333 days


#5 posted 06-08-2014 04:06 PM

Thanks, Yonak. I seem to recall magnolia as a nondescript wood also. Haven’t seen dark magnolia before. It might even be rot, for all I know, but it certainly looks like walnut in this case, but it is clearly a magnolia tree. I wasn’t close enough to see the grain, just the color.

Do you not use it for furniture because of the lack of interesting grain patterns? Is it hard to work/glue/finish?

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2145 posts in 1637 days


#6 posted 06-08-2014 04:39 PM

Here is what the wood database has to say about it. Sound like a pretty good utilitarian wood. Some species are used as poplar. The southern magnolia is a little harder than the others

http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/southern-magnolia/
http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/cucumbertree/
http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/sweetbay/

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 985 days


#7 posted 06-08-2014 04:54 PM

Re : “Do you not use it for furniture because of the lack of interesting grain patterns? Is it hard to work/glue/finish?:

It is easy enough to work. I have no experience with gluing or finishing it, as that wasn’t necessary for the product component application I used it for.

There has never been an appropriate piece of furniture, as there are other woods better for that. In fact, I only have two boards left now and that wouldn’t be enough for anything much.

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1333 days


#8 posted 06-08-2014 05:31 PM

Thanks for that link, Johnstoneb. I should have bookmarked that many moons ago.

This is what I saw in this piece: ( photo from the wood database )

Like I mentioned earlier, I have seen magnolias cut down before, but never seen this dark heartwood. Simply beautiful. I’m having difficulty understanding why it’s use isn’t more prolific.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View retfr8flyr's profile

retfr8flyr

327 posts in 1133 days


#9 posted 06-08-2014 08:48 PM

I can’t help with the Magnolia wood but if you need a chain saw that will start all the time, get an Echo. I have never had a problem starting any of my Echo equipment, including my chainsaw. Use the canned Trufuel 80:1 and it will last forever. I use Truefuel in all my 2 cycle engines and never have any trouble from them. The 2 cycles just don’t like the new 10% Ethanol mix gas.

-- Earl

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1333 days


#10 posted 06-08-2014 09:24 PM

Thanks, retired freight flyer! I’ll bet you’re exactly right about the fuel being the problem with mine. The symptoms were always fuel related. I never thought to consider the fuel itself as the problem.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

17170 posts in 2570 days


#11 posted 06-08-2014 09:57 PM

Hi Paul. I’d dry it and try it out on a project. That sap wood alone looks like sycamore and the heart wood is just beautiful. Get all you can because I think you’ll find a use for all of it!!

it seems that it would be nice to use the heartwood and sap wood together for contrast on a project.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2155 days


#12 posted 06-09-2014 12:58 AM

Bucket, Your profile doesn’t say where you live but I assume the South if you have a lot of magnolias. Load up a truck or trailer and make a road trip to Oklahoma and we’ll saw em up. Looks interesting to me.

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

View SamuraiSaw's profile

SamuraiSaw

513 posts in 1429 days


#13 posted 06-09-2014 01:07 AM

Magnolia is a great wood to work with. It is generally considered a “paint” grade simply because of the unremarkable grain, much like poplar. There were several companies in the Dallas are that used it for shutters.

Just make sure the moisture content is in the 6-7% range.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas.... www.awwtx.com

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1940 days


#14 posted 06-09-2014 01:59 AM

Yellow poplar is in the magnolia family, so that is why yellow poplar and magnolia wood are similar. Magnolia heartwood can be be chocolate brown with a lot of character. It should be fine for woodworking projects.

I recently cut some sweetbay magnolia and it had nice chocolate brown streaks in the heartwood.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1333 days


#15 posted 06-09-2014 02:10 AM

Thanks for all the info guys. Gfadvm… That sounds like a fun trip. Alas, coming from the east coast of Florida makes that one expensive log. As it turns out, the homeowner had already made plans for that log. He did offer to let me clear the debris. It still sits there for now.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

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