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To hackberry or not hackberry, that is the question.

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Forum topic by CB_Cohick posted 05-19-2015 01:27 PM 850 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CB_Cohick

460 posts in 718 days


05-19-2015 01:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question hackberry arts and crafts furniture

I am planning to begin working on a bedframe and a pair of nightstands soon. I had planned to use cherry as the medium with walnut accents. However, when I went to a local mill to see what was available they did not have much cherry in stock at the current time. They did have a nice supply of hackberry, some of it with interesting spalting. I looked on LJ’s to see what kind of projects you folks use hackberry for, and found a lot of turning, small boxes, but few larger pieces of furniture.

Are there any characteristics of hackberry I should be aware of before I try to use it for a bedframe and nightstands? Any reasons not to use it?

Thanks in advance.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.


13 replies so far

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 697 days


#1 posted 05-19-2015 02:05 PM

Personally I look at it this way: If you had you heart set on cherry but all they had was poplar, would you pull the trigger? Oak? Pine?

If you saw hackberry and are just smitten with it, do it. But if you are seeing this as your only viable option then get a thermos of coffee, get in the truck and make a road trip of it to go get some cherry. It would be like saying you want to date and marry Sue but hey she has a boyfriend and it would take too much work to steal her away—but look, there is Pam, she will work in a pinch.

GO GET SUE!

I have my heart set on some pecan for a bed and have been waiting until I go back to South Mississippi to get it (for a better price).

As far as the characteristics of this wood, I have no idea. I am just trying to help you in your time of true anguish.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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CB_Cohick

460 posts in 718 days


#2 posted 05-19-2015 02:14 PM

Thanks SirIrb, wise words certainly.

I do not have my heart set on cherry. It is available closer to home than the mill I visited. However, I was attracted to the hackberry I saw and was just wondering if there were any peculiarities to it to be aware of or watch out for. As you point out, the world is full of viable options.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View Gary's profile

Gary

8968 posts in 2899 days


#3 posted 05-19-2015 02:22 PM

You might want to PM gfadvm and ask him. He mills that stuff a lot.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2147 posts in 1639 days


#4 posted 05-19-2015 02:46 PM

View CB_Cohick's profile

CB_Cohick

460 posts in 718 days


#5 posted 05-19-2015 04:31 PM



http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/hackberry/

- johnstoneb

Thanks, I didn’t think to look there.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 988 days


#6 posted 05-19-2015 08:00 PM

Here’s a hackberry headboard project that was posted recently :

Hackberry Headboard

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7224 posts in 2842 days


#7 posted 05-19-2015 09:04 PM

I’ve seen some really neat grain patterns in hackberry. It’s subjective, but I like it better than cherry. I have no idea how it is to work with.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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JayT

4786 posts in 1678 days


#8 posted 05-20-2015 12:45 AM

Hackberry can have beautiful grain, especially when it is spalted. Haven’t worked with it much, but the little I have it works very easily. If you like the look, go for it. It would make a great contrast to the walnut.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1943 days


#9 posted 05-20-2015 12:46 AM

It is in the elm family. It has spiral grain and if flatsawn, is very difficult to dry flat without warp and twist. Make sure that it is fully dry before you use it so that it does not move on you. Quartersawn is more stable. It is really pretty, though.

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

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1425 days


#10 posted 05-20-2015 12:47 AM



It would be like saying you want to date and marry Sue but hey she has a boyfriend and it would take too much work to steal her away—but look, there is Pam, she will work in a pinch.

GO GET SUE!

- SirIrb

I thought we all found out year ago SUE was a boy.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2157 days


#11 posted 05-20-2015 12:49 AM

Hackberry has some amazingly beautiful interlocking grain that is hard to see unless it is spalted or stained. Structurally, it should not pose problems for you. I would get a few scraps, sand them to 180-220 and try some Gunstock or Cherry stain (MinWax) to see if you like the look.Click for details

This is some spalted hackberry with Spar Urethane and no stain.

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

View CB_Cohick's profile

CB_Cohick

460 posts in 718 days


#12 posted 05-20-2015 12:56 PM

I think I will give the hackberry a shot, bearing in mind the information about its tendency to move. I like the spalting and the look of the grain, and it is locally abundant. Had there been some advice strongly against I might have hesitated, but there hasn’t been anything like, “don’t use hackberry or your chisels will all dull and your dog will start pooping in your shoes.” Thanks for all the input.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1428 days


#13 posted 05-20-2015 02:38 PM



I have my heart set on some pecan for a bed and have been waiting until I go back to South Mississippi to get it (for a better price).
- SirIrb

Great overall advice, but I hear people say they drive a hundred miles or more to save a few bucks a lot. You have to save a lot more than you think to make it worth it. The IRS currently gives $.56 per mile as a deduction and since it’s the IRS you can assume they’re not being generous. That means when you add up the gas, depreciation, and maintenance, it costs $56 to drive somewhere 50 miles away and come home. It’s certainly more than that if pulling a trailer. So prices have to be really really good 100 or more miles away to make it worth it. I’m not saying it’s not in this case and South Mississippi might be not far for you, but I hear people drive two hours one way to save $50 on shipping.

Anyway, hackberry sounds like cool wood.

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