Try a New Wood for a Small Project
Updated: Jan 31
While traditional domestic hardwoods, such as walnut, oak, cherry and maple, are great to work with and produce beautiful results, small projects are an opportunity to experiment with wood species you don’t normally use. Here are a few options to consider:
Figured domestic: You may know White Oak, but have you made the leap to Quarter Sawn White Oak? The natural flake is a real game-changer! How about curly walnut, cherry or maple (or Bird’s Eye Maple)? Typically, these figured woods may be found at your hardwood retailer, yet they take your small projects to the next level.
Locally harvested—check with the sawmills in your area to see what’s new. You could luck out and find a wood that’s not harvested on a commercial scale, but is absolutely worth trying! Around Central Florida, monkey pod and camphor are just two common ornamentals that mills love to get their saws on! Both offer unique color and characteristics, and the results can be stunning.
Imports—You’ve probably worked with mahogany at some point. It’s harvested on a large scale and is relatively inexpensive. But what about other tropical hardwoods such as Wenge, Paduak, or Purpleheart? Many hardwood retailers carry these popular options. Dig a little deeper and your options get more exotic, like this Spalted Tamarind and Marblewood. Often sold in small pieces, their grain makes them ideal for adding interest to small projects, and their shear density holds up in the kitchen as one-of-a-kind charcuterie boards or knife handles.
Note: Many tropical hardwoods are much denser than domestic woods, so they can have a noticeable blunting effect on your blades. And with any new wood, watch for sensitivity to dust or respiratory issues and take the necessary precautions.
Project Credits: Monkey Pod bowl: Nick Lyman
Curly Maple box: Jim Hamer
White Oak Box: Rich Lopez