#2 common cherry and/or walnut useful for furniture building

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victoon

New User
Victor
Hi, I am a newbie and need some suggestions on wood.

the simple question is: is 4/4 #2/#3 common cherry and/or walnut any good for building furniture?

more specifically,
1) do cherry/walnut in that grade have too much character, making it too hard to work with, especially for a newbie?
2) what is rustic, really? when is a defect allowed in a piece?
3) with all that in mind, should I just pay for the premium for good lumber to simplify the work and actually start making something nice(r) given I have only used borg 2*12 so far?

Many thanks for your support! if furniture building using #2/#3 common is not something a newbie can pull off, please just let me know. I won't feel bad if I screw up using cheaper wood. but I won't have the time if everything take twice as long.
 

CarvedTones

Board of Directors, Vice President
Andy
I have a lot of experience using cheap wood. Leaving defects in the middle is rustic character IMO and its a look that requires consistency to do well. The trouble you run into with the lesser grades is laying out cuts so the defects aren't at ends, edges or other places you may need fasteners or get bumped/rubbed/etc a lot. I don't think it is any harder to work, but it is harder to find the right next piece, if that makes any sense.
 

Larry Rose

New User
Larry Rose
It might be harder to build a larger piece with #2 wood because of getting enough good matching boards but smaller projects are not a problem. Boxes, small tables, stools, etc are ok but you might want to get first quality for that Queen Anne Highboy or the grandfather clock to be left to your grand child. Also there will be more waste with #2 wood.
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
As stated above, for smaller projects you can get away with it easier. I always purchased kiln dried FAS cherry to build my furniture when I ran my custom furniture shop. You get mostly usable wood with some waste. You can always purchase your lumber as 4/4 and plane it yourself to save money as I did.

Red
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
In the "time vs money" argument, it sounds like time is a bigger concern to you. In that case, I would purchase the top quality stuff and get on w/ it. For me, it's just the opposite: I have far more time than money. :gar-Bi I often build projects w/ "what I have". As others have pointed out, there are several ways to look at this:

First, it takes more time and patience because you have to work around the defects and pay careful attention to where each piece will be on the project. If it's going front and center for all the world to see, you may not want that knot right in the middle. On the other hand, you may be able to use that piece on the inside or back of a case where it will probably never be seen. More time; more waste, cost less.

On the flip side, you can often use defects to your advantage, depending on the piece you're building. Sometimes I'll intentionally place a knot or other defect in a prominent place as a design element. In that case, I usually fill the defect w/ epoxy. And depending on the finish I plan to use, I may color the epoxy to fit the finish. You can also mix sawdust w/ epoxy. Another option for defects is to clean it out and install a "dutchman".

HTH

Bill
 

pviser

New User
paul
Using lower grade wood adds to the challenge. I try to hide defects, of course, and this takes a bit more time. But with the world's forests under duress, I get the added satisfaction of making something useful -- AND beautiful -- out of material that others may have burned or sent to the landfill.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Using lower grade wood adds to the challenge. I try to hide defects, of course, and this takes a bit more time. But with the world's forests under duress, I get the added satisfaction of making something useful -- AND beautiful -- out of material that others may have burned or sent to the landfill.

I agree with that sentiment.

I keep telling my Wife, I used to be cheap, now I'm green.
 

cpowell

New User
Chuck
Hi, I am a newbie and need some suggestions on wood.

the simple question is: is 4/4 #2/#3 common cherry and/or walnut any good for building furniture?

more specifically,
1) do cherry/walnut in that grade have too much character, making it too hard to work with, especially for a newbie?
2) what is rustic, really? when is a defect allowed in a piece?
3) with all that in mind, should I just pay for the premium for good lumber to simplify the work and actually start making something nice(r) given I have only used borg 2*12 so far?

Many thanks for your support! if furniture building using #2/#3 common is not something a newbie can pull off, please just let me know. I won't feel bad if I screw up using cheaper wood. but I won't have the time if everything take twice as long.

I would recomend 1 Common as good value and very workable. It doesn't have nearly the waste of 2 Common or lower and is 2/3 the cost of Select.


Chuck
 

victoon

New User
Victor
Thank you so much for sharing! I am at that crossroad that I am falling more and more in love with woodworking with growing aspirations, but committed to family (with a baby on the way) and work. words of wisdom from the veterans helps a lot.

the reason I got into building "furniture" was to save money. that is until I started using hand tools. now it's definitely a hobby. using 2*12 construction lumber was because of its low price and green (yes, Paul and Mark, I am totally with you. I found the idea of using select grade exotic wood for flooring is hard to justify morally). but now I am ready to explore the world of different woods. My wife and I both like cherry and walnut. and there is this red hot deal at Wall Lumber. that's why I am here. I wanted to make sure it's gonna work before I get 100 bf of this stuff. from the picture, the cherry actually looks pretty good:eusa_pray. the walnut looks way nutty and sapy:nah:. but then, I won't see it until it's delivered. hard to say what I am getting.

from all the responses, looks like low grade lumber is at least worth a try. a summery:
Pros:
1) green!
2) cheap!
3) good enough for smaller projects.
4) if well executed, may be more interesting

Cons:
1) cost time to think about arrangement of boards and placement of defects and fix defects (I hated fixing the loose nuts on pine).
2) a bit harder to pull off the look. some of the really fine style of furniture excludes the use of less than perfect wood.
3) harder to surface due to grain irregularity (my small collection of decent hand planes and a 8000x waterstone has helped a lot). I HATE SANDING!
4) not likely to work on larger build if defect is not allowed.
5) may have much more waste, which defeats the lower price.

my next project is something like this:
http://www.scotthorsburgh.com/resources/internal/file_views/172/1__MG_5827w500px.jpg
It will be shorter but deeper than pictured. none of the pieces are that long. and I can glue two 4/4 boards to make the legs.
 

victoon

New User
Victor
I would recomend 1 Common as good value and very workable. It doesn't have nearly the waste of 2 Common or lower and is 2/3 the cost of Select.
Chuck

BTW, Chuck, I saw your new hand plane cabinet a couple of days ago. good looking one. It would be a good application if I end up getting some of these cherry or walnut. and I noticed the base of your oval table was build with lower grade wood. I think it worked well.
 

CarvedTones

Board of Directors, Vice President
Andy
Wow - I have to give Wall Lumber props for truth in advertising.
Wallredhot11.jpg


That is pretty wood but definitely most suited to the rustic look or small projects with a lot of waste. One thing you might think about is that when you first get it, go through the pile and measure the clear pieces (or what could be pieces, like a 6' section in the middle of a board) so you can decide if you want to cull that for a piece or two of finer work and use the rest for truly rustic looking projects.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I have furniture I built early on made of construction lumber and "pine" sheving boards. It was more work but it has held up. I have a dresser with a closet above, for instance, that I built in Philadelphia, in an apartment, in about 1980. It was moved from Philadelphia, to Kansas City, to Omaha, to Pittsburgh and now sits in my upstairs guest room in South Carolina. It is glued and screwed together. The pine has aged nicely and I think it looks good. It has lots of knots but I made the panels for the sides out of wood that seemed to me to go together and save some interesting pieces (lots of character) for the panels in the doors.

I built a table, four chairs, and the start of a queen sized bed from some #1 or #2 (don't remember) cherry I got from one of the sponsors. I mostly cut around the knots but a few show. The grain around knots is quite interesting but they are a pain to sand. If there is bark around them they will fall out - or at best be loose. If there is no bark, the strength is less and the wood is less stable but it will work. You need to be careful if the knot is on the edge - not fully captured by solid work. The wood normally moves a lot when you cut through a knot. On a table top or something like that it can look interesting. I also turn them inside or put them in a middle piece on thick legs.

Jim
 

victoon

New User
Victor
I have furniture I built early on made of construction lumber and "pine" sheving boards. It was more work but it has held up. I have a dresser with a closet above, for instance, that I built in Philadelphia, in an apartment, in about 1980. It was moved from Philadelphia, to Kansas City, to Omaha, to Pittsburgh and now sits in my upstairs guest room in South Carolina. It is glued and screwed together. The pine has aged nicely and I think it looks good. It has lots of knots but I made the panels for the sides out of wood that seemed to me to go together and save some interesting pieces (lots of character) for the panels in the doors.

I built a table, four chairs, and the start of a queen sized bed from some #1 or #2 (don't remember) cherry I got from one of the sponsors. I mostly cut around the knots but a few show. The grain around knots is quite interesting but they are a pain to sand. If there is bark around them they will fall out - or at best be loose. If there is no bark, the strength is less and the wood is less stable but it will work. You need to be careful if the knot is on the edge - not fully captured by solid work. The wood normally moves a lot when you cut through a knot. On a table top or something like that it can look interesting. I also turn them inside or put them in a middle piece on thick legs.

Jim
I have only build some pottery barn style tables. I think construction grade white pine is actually pretty good for it. I can easily build sturdy looking pieces without being heavy. and I think the oil-varinish blend can make the surface pretty hard (they were off gasing for over a month though). and I agree with you. the wood always have a bend where the nuts are. and I have had a few bad experiences sawing through nuts as the stress in the wood being released, the wood moved wildly, causing both safety problems and a lot of waste.

I also notice that white pines are not born the same. some cut are harder, heavier, with somewhat more winter growth(?). I almost feel like I am working with a nicer species of wood.

anyway, just out of curiosity. are the select grade white pine carried by lowes or HD the same species as the construction white pine? they look totally different though. the select white pine is more brown.
 

victoon

New User
Victor
today my wife and I went to a remodeling shop in Durham and we saw this rustic cherry cabinet door. as you can see, it's made of something like #10 :wink_smil common but with high precision and polish (rather than a hand made rustic technique). my wife actually prefer the rustic material over the select grade cherry nearby. apparently, rustic material and fine technique mix well.
IMG_9021.jpg


by the way, the store is called "common ground". they specialize in green product. we love them. just want to give them a thumbs-up.
http://www.commongroundgreen.com/
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
around me (durham) "construction grade white pine" at lowes or HD is labeled whitewood. if that's the stuff then it's spf lumber aka spruce-pine-fir meaning any of the above. The select stuff is usually southern yellow pine (syp) or possibly radiata pine so that's why the color is different. HD also has construction grade syp sold as 2x8, 2x10's etc. These are a good deal if you get the long boards >12' as these tend to be a bit straighter. Around me, lowes does not have this stuff. go figure.
Also, you may try some of the folks here for hardwoods as they often have good quality stuff for prices better than commercially available.

Sam
 

cpowell

New User
Chuck
BTW, Chuck, I saw your new hand plane cabinet a couple of days ago. good looking one. It would be a good application if I end up getting some of these cherry or walnut. and I noticed the base of your oval table was build with lower grade wood. I think it worked well.

The DR table base wood was intentionally selected because of the grain and character. The stock was AD lumber, log run. Grade would be all over the place but it was priced right. :gar-Bi

I probably ended up throwing away 1/3 of the walnut I bought for this project due to cracks/splits that weren't obvious when selected.


Chuck
 

tkpinsc

New User
Tod Parks
today my wife and I went to a remodeling shop in Durham and we saw this rustic cherry cabinet door. as you can see, it's made of something like #10 :wink_smil common but with high precision and polish (rather than a hand made rustic technique). my wife actually prefer the rustic material over the select grade cherry nearby. apparently, rustic material and fine technique mix well.
IMG_9021.jpg


by the way, the store is called "common ground". they specialize in green product. we love them. just want to give them a thumbs-up.
http://www.commongroundgreen.com/

I'm currently building counters and display tables from cherry the customer owned and the results are very similar to the photo of the door. The customer's dad used to build pallets and would pull anything that looked too nice to go into a pallet and add it to an uncovered stack outside. After cutting out the mold, rot and windshake I'm left with about a 50% yield. When I'm done in a few more weeks I plan to post some pictures. So far the customer and myself are both happy with the results from rustic material mixed with traditional technique.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
The last time I bought some clear softwood it came from Lowes and was southern yellow pine. I was making glass doors for a large built in bookshelf and I wanted the better stability of clear wood. Only one of several Lowe's near where I live had these boards. They were clear, 12 foot long boards - at a good price.
 

CarvedTones

Board of Directors, Vice President
Andy
I discovered "metamorphic whitewood shelving" the other day. I put track-and-bracket shelves in the attic several years ago and we have always rotated outgrown or too large clothes we get sharing hand me downs with other families in the multiples club and the shelves have stayed full for years. We cleaned them out a few days ago to donate to families that lost everything and I saw the surface of a lot of them for the first time in a long while. There is a lot of curl like shimmer and I know they were pretty plain before. Can the heat of an attic over the course of years do that?
 

victoon

New User
Victor
picked up some lumber from Jack (saw4you) today. Great guy! very patient with a newbie like me.

after getting home, I started making my hand plane cabinet with the walnut. first time using hard wood to make anything (got some QSWO and mahogany from Scott a while ago. haven't done anything with them yet. the mahogany is to nice for me as the first project). I thought it must be really cool to use my hand planes to dress the wood to make hand plane cabinet. the harder wood and the tiny bit of dirt dulled the original bailey blades (they were fine for pine) in no time. will have to get some new blades soon. but seeing the rough wood (looking like a piece of crap) turned into a nice attractive piece of wood is very rewarding. what do you guys do before you start planing the rough saw lumber?

a note on color:
in the rough form the color of walnut was brown. freshly planed color is dark grayish brown with a purple tint. then the UV will turn it back to the golden brown, right? I put a bit of BLO on one corner and a bit of SEALCOAT shellac on the other. the BLO really warmed it up. but the shellac did almost nothing. so I am wondering, what's a good way to finish walnut to get that great george nakashima look?
 
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