Best substitute for elm?

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Forum topic by Hmlee posted 07-27-2014 03:50 AM 1634 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 2158 days

07-27-2014 03:50 AM

I’ve been working on a rather large media console for a while. Originally, I planned on making both shelves of the unit out of elm (top 6/4, bottom 4/4). The bottom shelf went swimmingly, but the top shelf… well turns out some of the elm I bought was more warped than I realized.

So I’ve got 2/3 of a shelf built. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get more elm to finish out the shelf, since it seems to be rather hard to find in Chicago.

So, I’m wondering, would any of the following woods finish to a similar color as the elm / look good in combination with it: basswood, birch, hickory, red oak, lyptus, makore?

(Those are the options available in 6/4 at the place I’d like to go to…)

5 replies so far

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1755 days

#1 posted 07-27-2014 04:38 AM

The only wood I can think of that may come anywhere close to elm as far as looks and similar properties could be a nice light colored pecan. I don’t believe any of the woods you mentioned are very close.

If you’re looking for a contrasting wood I would avoid basswood and lyptus, and maybe birch and makore, as the grains may clash. My 2ยข.

View Manitario's profile


2702 posts in 3117 days

#2 posted 07-27-2014 11:49 AM

ash also is similar to elm, at least the stuff I’ve worked with. Why don’t you just buy some more elm online?

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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Fred Hargis

5231 posts in 2727 days

#3 posted 07-27-2014 12:42 PM

It’s so dependent on the particular wood you have on hand, I think I’d take a sample with me to the yard you frequent and compare. You might check out the hickory along with the other suggestions. Take a spray bottle with water to must the surface of the sample and the boards you are looking at. Of course, this is easiest if the boards have been (at the very least) skip-planed. If it’s all rough sawn you may need a block plane as well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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263 posts in 2347 days

#4 posted 07-27-2014 07:07 PM

If your staining it red oak can come pretty close.

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3355 posts in 2032 days

#5 posted 07-27-2014 09:29 PM

Checked these folks?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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