Designing a platform bed--selection of woods to contrast with Black Walnut

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Forum topic by Billy E posted 07-09-2014 05:43 PM 1298 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Billy E

162 posts in 1504 days

07-09-2014 05:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut cherry maple oak shaker traditional

Hello all,
I am wrapping up my first project with walnut, which is two nightstands. My wife is already wanting me to work on a bed now. I want to use walnut and possibly another wood for contrast. I am considering cherry, white oak, maple… I’m also considering finding some sapwood heavy walnut boards as well, although it would be nice to not pay walnut prices for the whole thing. Anyway, since it’s a bed, its important that whatever I use be sufficiently strong and also available in something like 12/4 for posts. I’ll also be finishing with an oil/varnish/wax finish and I want the woods to complement each other well. I am thinking cherry is my best bet. I also don’t want to write off hickory, although it does scare me what I hear about working it. Thoughts? Oh, I don’t have a lathe, so no turnings. Style is probably best described as Shaker(ish). Thanks,

-- Billy, Florence SC

7 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


1705 posts in 1607 days

#1 posted 07-09-2014 06:11 PM

Personally, I like woods that have more subtle contrast to walnut than maple. White oak and cherry fit that, and are pretty readily available in 12/4 (for a price—the price per board foot seems to go way up for 12/4 boards around here). Hickory is also there, but it’s not easy to work.

Alder is another wood that would look fantastic with walnut, isn’t super expensive, and I’ve seen in 12/4.

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

View Yonak's profile


979 posts in 945 days

#2 posted 07-09-2014 06:18 PM

Speaking of hickory, pecan could look quite nice with walnut. It’s sturdy and attactive. I was going to suggest butternut for trim until I saw you’re looking for something for structural components.

View Billy E's profile

Billy E

162 posts in 1504 days

#3 posted 07-09-2014 07:48 PM

I agree about maple vs walnut being too dramatic. I’m not trying to make a chess board here. Thanks for your input. Any other ideas?

-- Billy, Florence SC

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1057 posts in 1955 days

#4 posted 07-10-2014 01:25 AM

Birch? Beech?

I love working with alder, but it is relatively soft. Even softer than douglas-fir.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 973 days

#5 posted 07-10-2014 01:34 AM

White oak works well.

View Heywood's profile


33 posts in 872 days

#6 posted 07-10-2014 03:56 AM

White oak and walnut is an excellent combo

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1359 days

#7 posted 07-10-2014 06:00 AM

I saw a buffet one time that was walnut and I think Padauk or Bloodwood. The reddish tones next to the walnut looked great. That said, I don’t think either of those woods would be readily available in 12/4. So I think Cherry is a solid bet, it is reddish (not to the extent of padauk or bloodwood, but still reddish). No matter what I agree with everyone that a little too much contrast can be a bit shocking, so white oak or cherry could be some good and readily available options.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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