Router Forums banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
40 Posts


Some woods are chosen for looks, some for economy and some for durability. But some woods offer value in a combination of all three characteristics. These four woods are easy to work with, great to look at, relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to source. While they might not be the most beautiful, durable or inexpensive woods on the market, they're a good mix of all three. Best Wood Values for Woodworkers
Read more here:
4 Best Wood Values for Woodworkers
 

·
Registered
Theo
Joined
·
6,939 Posts
Mostly I work with plywood. But I have found that you an get some very nice wood from pallets. Some really lousy wood too. But, if you go thru enough pallets, you get some nice common woods, and at times a variety of pretty exotic woods - anything that doesn't grow near me I consider exotic - but I'm talking teak, and other exotics you normally only see in a store. I have been known to buy wood, besides plywood that is, but for years have only bought wood native to North Carolina, just a thing with me. However, I will accept free wood from anywhere.
 

·
Marine Engineer
Doug
Joined
·
4,788 Posts
POPLAR!

I do a lot of work with Poplar, mainly because I have ready access to some nice stock at reasonable prices. I like it because of the variety of figure and color that you can find, and it works pretty easily. I think it is a good balance between hard and soft woods.

I know 'real' woodworkers only use it for a secondary wood, but I almost exclusively use it for my carved benches.

White Oak-

I use the cheap corral boards that I get from Home Depot for about $8. They are 16' long, 6+ inches wide, and well over an inch thick. There is a lot of knots and defects in them, but if you lay your parts out in them, there's a lot of good wood there. The only problem is it is stored outside, and is usually VERY we.


Red oak in my neck of the woods is also very cheap, but everything is red oak around here.......

Pallet wood is great for some projects, but the yield/effort sometimes doesn't work out. Of course, now you can buy it ready to go at the big stores!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,042 Posts
One thing to factor in is that ones region can really affect the cost of wood. For example, birch is sited as being a substitute for maple as it gets more expensive, indicating that birch is a less expensive alternative. Here in Ohio, both soft and hard maple are less expensive then Birch. Also in Ohio, western red cedar is hard to find, and when it is available also tends to be expensive. An alternative to WRC that is common here is Aromatic Cedar, which I have used on a couple occasions.

Getting GOOD douglas fir can be a challenge. In this region of the country, it is very common to be used as dimensional lumber for home building. The problem with that is all too frequently it hasn't been fully dried. This makes it very prone for movement, that is sometimes extreme. (We have all seen the banana shaped 2x4's at Lowes!)

Also, choice of wood comes down to personal taste, which can also affect our perceived value of wood. Since red oak is easily sourced from home centers, it is a wood many of us got started with. I used it a lot in my early years of woodworking. I can't stand to use it now. For open grain woods, I tend to prefer using ash over oak, which in this region is actually less expensive than oak (though I suspect in the coming years ash will become much more expensive, no thanks to the emerald ash borer)

For maple, if you are looking for a cost effective solution, many suppliers sell ambrosia maple for less than soft maple. Ambrosia maple has tiny bore holes from the ambrosia beetle. The result is over the years bore holes have allowed water in to stain the wood, creating an interesting "figured" effect.

A couple years ago my supplier had a sale on 6' long (vs the normal 8'-12' lengths) cherry boards of various widths. The sale brought the board foot cost down to a little under red oak (rough sawn, not home center stuff). Cherry is my personal favorite wood to work with, so I snapped that deal up pretty quickly.
 

·
Retired Moderator
Joined
·
16,385 Posts
3 out of 4 are growing in my yard. No oak around my part of the world. One species that was overlooked is pine. There are quite a few species of pine and some are better for woodworking than others. The most common one here is lodgepole pine and it is one of the better ones and may be the most plentiful species of tree that grows in BC.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,186 Posts
Pine and poplar are two woods that I use frequently along with those in your list.

I also use Baltic Birch plywood in 1/8 - 1" thickness with I mostly use the 1/2". I also 4 X 8' sheets of cabinet birch in 3/4 and 1" thicknesses. The 4' X 8' China Ply cabinet birch plywood that's available from the Borgs has no place in my shop, nor will I use their pine or fir plywood for anything, unless doing some sort of building construction project where it becomes a structural member.

MDF is used in my shop as backer boards and sacrificial bench tops, usually in 1/4" thickness, but I never use it for making any cabinet parts. Waferboard is for making cheap crates, in my opinion, so I won't use it for anything except for crate making.

Most of what I make are exhibits for science museums, where everything needs to be made "kid proof". I'm certain that this method of making things has affected my choices of materials and methods for making my personal projects as well. You don't have to agree with me, just appreciate why I use the materials that I do.

Charley
 

·
Super Moderator
David
Joined
·
3,586 Posts
90% of what I build projects out of is unsteamed Walnut that I buy at the sawmill, kiln dried to about 6% to 8%. Picked up another load today. Beautiful stuff and smells great when you work it.

David
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,603 Posts
90% of what I build projects out of is unsteamed Walnut that I buy at the sawmill, kiln dried to about 6% to 8%. Picked up another load today. Beautiful stuff and smells great when you work it.

David
I bought the last steamed walnut from my supplier about six months ago. When I bought it I had cataracts and it was dark in the warehouse where it was stored. I didn't see how bad it was till I got home. All their other lumber is good. One thing I don't understand about that place is their rough lumber is priced higher than their straight run lumber. Figure that one out. I do need to call around Nashville and see if anyone sells unsteamed walnut.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,603 Posts
Western cedar at the Home Depot is real high but the fence plank are cheap. I use the fence planks for carving signs.

Red oak is about $2.70 BF and it's really nice.

Birch I don't know but I don't think we have any.

Don't know about fir either.

Pine I use sometimes to make shop furniture and stuff. It's a $1.00 BF

Popular and bass wood are about $1.30 BF.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,616 Posts
I am so lucky that I am able to use up to 100 different woods each year. One of the reasons I got into woodworking is because I like to use different species. I love collecting woods as well.

Because I can't and won't use stains on 95% of my work I always need to seek out wood that is the color I want or need it to be with nothing but a clear coat on it. It's fun! Sometimes not so cheap!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
19,240 Posts
I am fond of birch. I generally don't like highly figured wood. Maple is nice but dear around here. Don't care much for Oak and rarely use it. Poplar for face frames is my most common choice. Use a lot of pine. We have a lot of pine forests around here that have been thinned out due to fires in overgrown local forests. My projects are fairly simple and pine works quite well. I prefer kiln dried stuff. I only use baltic birch ply these days, and many of my projects involve BB ply more than hard wood construction. Tempted to make some furniture on occassion, but my house is full already. That kind of project calls for some really nice hardwood. I also like working with Ash, a really nice wood to me.
 

·
Super Moderator
David
Joined
·
3,586 Posts
I bought the last steamed walnut from my supplier about six months ago. When I bought it I had cataracts and it was dark in the warehouse where it was stored. I didn't see how bad it was till I got home. All their other lumber is good. One thing I don't understand about that place is their rough lumber is priced higher than their straight run lumber. Figure that one out. I do need to call around Nashville and see if anyone sells unsteamed walnut.
I get my unsteamed Walnut directly from the sawmill and I often get to help him cut the logs that I'll come back later and buy when they're dry. If I go to the only real hardwood supplier in my area I can buy steamed Walnut for nearly double what I buy the unsteamed. Walnut is an awesome wood but steamed Walnut looks muddy to me so it's a win/win to buy the much more attractive unsteamed Walnut at a lower price.

I am so lucky that I am able to use up to 100 different woods each year. One of the reasons I got into woodworking is because I like to use different species. I love collecting woods as well.

Because I can't and won't use stains on 95% of my work I always need to seek out wood that is the color I want or need it to be with nothing but a clear coat on it. It's fun! Sometimes not so cheap!
I rarely use stains. On my unsteamed Walnut I sometimes have to hide a small bit of bold white sapwood, depending on where it is, so I have a tiny can of dark Walnut stain. And like you, I get to work with many different woods including many exotics, but I don't get to see 100 different woods. That would be just fantastic! A lot of the work I do is as you mentioned - find the wood that suits the look and color I need but not if it has to be stained.

I am fond of birch. I generally don't like highly figured wood. Maple is nice but dear around here. Don't care much for Oak and rarely use it. Poplar for face frames is my most common choice. Use a lot of pine. We have a lot of pine forests around here that have been thinned out due to fires in overgrown local forests. My projects are fairly simple and pine works quite well. I prefer kiln dried stuff. I only use baltic birch ply these days, and many of my projects involve BB ply more than hard wood construction. Tempted to make some furniture on occasion, but my house is full already. That kind of project calls for some really nice hardwood. I also like working with Ash, a really nice wood to me.
For me, the more figure in the wood the better it is. But that suits the type of things I build and create. I also don't care for Oak unless it's quartersawn White Oak and I rarely have a piece of Pine in the shop.

David
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,459 Posts
This afternoon, my next door neighbour asked me if I had any surplus W.R. Cedar boards in stock. "Sure !" says I. "6' 1x6 fence boards,nicely airdried. "There are a bunch of piles around the yard, stickered and covered with lumber wrap. How many do you need? I think it's all fence quality."
"Great!" says he, "Can I have 9 - 10pcs.?"
"Sure." I say again. "10 pcs. is 30 Bd. ft....say $.55/Bd Ft.? " "Done!"

So I unwrap the pile and it's all clear lumber... a deal is a deal. :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,480 Posts
Back in the day, I made a bunch of storage beds like the one in the photo out of Baltic Birch plywood (sorry, some of my early attempts at scanning 35mm prints and I was scanning 3 per page). I even made a matched pair - the family had unexpected twins and needed the storage - that was two drawers high and needed a little ladder to climb up to the mattress. I also made a lot of laminate furniture (18mm luan plywood with laminate on both sides) - this was one I made for an office to store liquor, space for mini refrigerator in the bottom. The customer wanted the brushed aluminum trim around the center shelf and on the kick - I tried to buy strips, but they only sold it in 24" x 48" sheets so you can see that I didn't use much of it. So, 30 years later, I still have the rest of the sheet rolled up in the corner of the shop - my Scottish upbringing won't let me throw it away - and I keep telling myself I'll find a use for it someday. Just like the offcut of smoked brown plexiglass that I used for the door panels on a stereo cabinet and.............

Nowadays, mostly use oak or birch (stained or painted) although I have some mahogany tables I'm disassembling to use to make a sideboard for the dining room. And I've had pretty good luck lately using the Sande plywood sold by HD for shop cabinets - not really much cheaper than the birch that they sell, but the quality seems much more consistent.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
For cutting boards, my 4 favorite boards are Hard Maple (of course!), Jatoba, Purpleheart and Canarywood. One of my competitive advantages, I believe, is that I have ready access to 25 hardwood species, and am able to make unique pieces from them. Started today on a Jatoba table top and island top, for example.

I shop for wood. I'm a small commercial shop (I have them fooled!), so I do get some volume discounts & don't pay sales tax.

I'm in LA ... here are my very best prices per board foot for S2S SL1E. Black Walnut kills me ... and I used to pay double what's shown!

Species Size Rate
Ash 4/4 $3.07
Black Walnut 8/4 $9.14
Black Walnut 6/4 $7.35
Black Walnut 4/4 $6.90
Bloodwood 4/4 $14.00
Bubinga 8/4 $19.16
Bubinga 4/4 $19.75
Canarywood 4/4 $11.75
Caribbean Rosewood 4/4 $14.31
Cherry 8/4 $4.02
Cherry 6/4 $7.01 (clear)
Cherry 4/4 $3.10
Goncalo Alves 8/4 $14.00
Goncalo Alves 4/4 $17.67
Hard Maple 8/4 $4.66
Hard Maple 6/4 $4.05
Hard Maple 4/4 $7.25 (Birds Eye)
Hard Maple 4/4 $4.56 (Premium wide)
Hard Maple 4/4 $3.30
Hickory 8/4 $5.30
Hickory 6/4 $5.00
Hickory 4/4 $5.00
Honey Locust 4/4 $7.00 (mail order from Bell Forest)
Jarrah 4/4 $15.00
Jarrah 8/4 $15.00
Jatoba 8/4 $7.91
Jatoba 4/4 $6.21
Mahogany 4/4 $12.00
Morado 4/4 $25.35
Padauk 4/4 $6.50
Poplar 4/4 $1.95
Purpleheart 8/4 $9.14
Purpleheart 4/4 $6.90
Red Oak 8/4 $3.00
Red Oak 6/4 $3.00
Red Oak 4/4 $2.94
Sapele 4/4 $4.87
Teak 4/4 $22.95
White Oak 8/4 $5.30
White Oak 6/4 $5.07
White Oak 4/4 $4.75
Yellowheart 8/4 $9.00
Yellowheart 4/4 $8.04
MDF 1/2 $24.73
Ply, Maple 3/4 $52.57
Ply 1/4 $12.35
Baltic Birch, 3, 5x5 1/4 $17.98
Baltic Birch, 3, 5x5 1/2 $23.98
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top