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Archive for June, 2009

Alder (Alnus rubra): It’s Possible You’ve Overlooked This One

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
Custom Knotty Alder Cabinets with a glaze finish

Custom Knotty Alder Cabinets with a glaze finish

I’m going to surmise that you’ve never used alder for woodworking projects.  Few woodworkers have.  On a whole, they’re just too busy making beautiful things with walnut or cherry or oak to stop and consider this wood.  Poor souls. It’s time to pause for a minute.

Down in the southwestern U.S. we see it often, and for good reason.  It’s plentiful, easy to work with, people like the look, and – um, get ready for this one – it’s pretty, it’s cheap . . . pretty cheap.

Wait.  Stop.  Don’t smack your computer screen. You read that right.

I’m here to bring alder to your attention, because you just might enjoy the wood, both in cost and characteristics. read more

Red Oak (Quercus rubra): America’s Favorite

Monday, June 15th, 2009
Red Oak tree

Red Oak tree

Red Oack grain scan

Red Oak grain scan

Red Oak is America’s favorite cabinet and furniture wood.

Okay, maybe that’s a lofty statement.

However, since the founding of our country Red Oak has been used for virtually every conceivable wood application.  And still does.

Floors, cabinetry, furniture, tool handles,  stairs, doors, molding, trim, casings, paneling, plywood, veneer, and on and on.

Red Oak just so happens to be the most abundant hardwood tree in the North American forest.  The wood features decent working properties in nearly all aspects – it’s hard, but not severely blunting; it’s stable and solid; it accepts all types of stains and dyes, as well as all types of finish; you can rout it, hand plane it, chisel it, scrape it, whatever, and the wood will respond .

Naturally, we use a lot of it in North America for these reasons. read more

Walnut: The Premier North American Hardwood

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

walnutA customer once told me “If it is worth building it should be made of Walnut.”

He said so out of genuine infatuation: the dark heartwood is gorgeous.

Woodworkers generally love the stable lumber; it saws, planes, routes, and finishes exceedingly well. Walnut is considered the superior wood for gun stocks because of its stability, light weight and ability to absorb recoil – the long-sought-after figure and desirable grain patterns are just the cherry on top.

read more