Using Mesquite for Fine Furniture

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Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 09-13-2014 07:15 PM 1133 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1275 posts in 1354 days

09-13-2014 07:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mesquite

Hey guys,

I have been trying to move towards buying lumber locally from sawmills and such. My local large hardwood supplier isn’t cheap, and it often affects the feasibility of doing projects. I live in Fort Worth, TX so we have a decent amount trees around, but not a ton, like in many other parts of the country. We have a ton of oak, which I personally don’t really like. Next up is Pecan, but I also am not a huge fan of that either. Mesquite is also available, and I really like the color and grain a lot more than most other local woods. But, it seems like mesquite is so gnarly that it is hard to find pieces big enough to build fine furniture out of. I’m not a big fan of the natural edge or rustic look, so I really need relatively clear boards for most of what I build, around 5/4 and about 6 inches wide by 5 feet or so long.

Have y’all who use mesquite come across any that is large and clear enough to make furniture out of?

Any other comments or sources about using mesquite are welcome too.


-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

19 replies so far

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 2966 days

#1 posted 09-13-2014 10:30 PM

Yes, you can get mesquite that is very clean. You need to look for good quality logs and get the milled. We used to mill our own on a pm81. Some logs just looked rough and sure enough the yield was knarly. The there would be some good clean straight logs that would yield very nice planks.

-- .

View Nubsnstubs's profile


810 posts in 1149 days

#2 posted 09-13-2014 11:06 PM

I did several Mesquite pieces of furniture once. The first time, I figured it would take about 100 bdft. I was short by about 75 bdft. Shoulda gotten 200 bdft instead and had left overs. The second time I knew what to expect. .
When you’re going to make something in Mesquite without voids, bark inclusions or cracks without natural edges, you almost need to double the quantity of wood needed to make the piece. That’s been my experience…..... Jerry (in Tucson).

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1354 days

#3 posted 09-13-2014 11:34 PM

Jerry – I’ve got a PM81. Maybe I should give it a shot. I just recently tried to mill some pecan and it was a fiasco. It was probably too big of a log, about 10” diameter, 5 feet long. I think it just weighed too much for one person to handle. How big were the ones you milled?

Jerry in Tucson – good heads up. That is what it seems like. Rarely do I see even a decent sized piece that is clear.

I am sort of thinking about doing some danish modern sort of stuff, but don’t want to pay for the teak. I figured Mesquite is interesting, local, attainable for me, and has good color. The good thing about Danish modern is the pieces are all relatively skinny other than the tabletops. I’m not going to be doing large blocky stuff like mission or arts and crafts or anything.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View AandCstyle's profile


2538 posts in 1677 days

#4 posted 09-13-2014 11:52 PM

Mesquite may not be such a great bargain if you need to buy twice as much as you need. Have you considered other woods such as cherry, maple, walnut or even poplar? I have found Brazos in Grand Prairie to be reasonably priced. FWIW

-- Art

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2110 days

#5 posted 09-14-2014 12:18 AM

You bring some mesquite logs to Tulsa and I will cut em for you. I would LOVE to have some mesquite!

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

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile


770 posts in 3421 days

#6 posted 09-14-2014 01:38 AM

You can fill the cracks and voids with a epoxy, i use clear epoxy but i add black dye so it then turns black. after sanding and finish it looks fantastic! Absolutely a matching blend!

Let me know if you need a flitch or two custom milled and delivered to your door. Thanks

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 2966 days

#7 posted 09-14-2014 01:51 AM

I built a infeed and outfeed table, sort of a wrap around table. It was large enough to hold a 48” sled. I would run logs up to 12” wide. I used a come along to pull the sled through, saved on my muscles some.

We cut several bf of mesquite. Nothing else quite compared with the natural beauty of mesquite, nothing against the others. But for those rich red tones, nothing would compete.

We built a few jobs, one was a whole house full of custom cabinets. Built a few smaller jobs.

Like I said though, if the log looked clean, solid, the yeild was great and clean. I would call guys on CL who advertised selling mesquite firewood. Some guys had great logs, others did not.

At the end, I decided it to be just a ton of very hard work. We already work extremely hard in our shop without having to process logs with pm81. It was a fun experience though. I recall one log had like 30 scorpions come out when cutting it.

I do agree u have to calculate twice as much bf for your job.

-- .

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2110 days

#8 posted 09-14-2014 02:39 AM

Jerry/Boots, I envy y’all access to mesquite but you can keep the scorpions South of the Red River!

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

View Purrmaster's profile


914 posts in 1512 days

#9 posted 09-14-2014 05:52 AM

Please let me know if you find good, clear mesquite. I was intrigued by Mesquite and looked around the web for mesquite. The best I could find was stuff that had epoxy filling it. From what I’ve read getting clean boards, especially wide ones, is difficult with mesquite.

Pecan/hickory is nice but it’s like concrete. Poplar is usually pretty cheap. Poplar is an especially good choice if you plan to paint the furniture. Otherwise the color contrast between heartwood and sapwood tends to be jarring.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1354 days

#10 posted 09-14-2014 01:29 PM

A and C – Brazos Forest is where I have historically bought my wood. As far as the woods that you mentioned, Maple is fine, but tough to work for the results you get. Kind of burnt out on cherry. Poplar doesn’t really do it for me. And walnut prices are the thing that actually made me consider going to mesquite. I called up brazos this past week and 5/4 was $9.12/ bdft. Seems like a lot to me. I know there as guys on CL selling mesquite for less than half of that. I’m kind of a wood snob, but not that bad. I just feel like if I am going to days upon days working on a project, I should use a wood that I like. Maybe I am being too optimistic about prices? There is a guy making a lumber run down here from up north, I might score some wood from him.

Blue Sting Ray – I’ll let you know if I need anything milled. If I ever head way down south, I’ll give you a call. It is always fun to see a fellow woodworker’s shop, especially one who mills his own stuff from local trees. I know about the epoxy trick, and I might need to give it a try depending on what I can find

Jerry – I might try looking for “firewood”. Or even buying a chainsaw and helping clear some land if I could keep some of the wood. As far as whether or not it is worth it, I kind of feel like the hassle might not be worth the work when it comes to milling large logs on a bandsaw, even if it is a big bandsaw. Seems like a woodmizer makes it worth it, but any smaller than that and you are not really getting much return for your effort.

Purr master – I’ll let you know what I find

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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1275 posts in 1354 days

#11 posted 09-14-2014 01:30 PM

Oh and gfadvm – Come down here and we’ll have a big ole’ scorpion boil for you! Sort of like a crawfish boil but with scorpions! You’ll love it!

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View DonBoston's profile


75 posts in 881 days

#12 posted 09-14-2014 01:38 PM

Couple hours south of you in Abilene is a guy who mills mesquite. I’m able to get some nice clear pieces from him. He charges $8/bd ft, but it’s good looking wood. I’ve got a couple pieces here that I’m using for fly fishing boxes.

-- Don Boston RECreations by Don

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2110 days

#13 posted 09-14-2014 02:22 PM

Think I’ll pass on the scorpion boil!

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

View CharlesA's profile


2973 posts in 1217 days

#14 posted 09-14-2014 02:27 PM

This is probably a ridiculous idea, but that’s never stopped me before. Lumber prices and selection are so much better in other places, wonder if it would be worth it to you, if you can afford/store a healthy amount of lumber, to drive to another state and stock up. Maybe you could sell some of the excess on CL to pay for the trip. Here’s an example of sawmill prices around Louisville.

-- "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

View timbertailor's profile


1591 posts in 844 days

#15 posted 09-14-2014 03:15 PM

Lots of Mesquite use and mills here in Texas.

-- Brad, Texas,

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