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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Default Wood advice for newbie

    Hello all. I am new to this forum, and hope you can give me some advice.

    I haven't done any woodwork since highschool, over a decade ago, but (perhaps foolishly) I have decided to build my girlfriend a jewelry box. I have a skilled friend to help me out, but he's from the US and doesn't know about the wood here.

    I want to make the box from a dark or red wood, with a light coloured wood top. For the top, I'd like something similar to the maple burl or even the cherry in this featured in this thread, or the huon pine here.

    Not sure about the wood for the actual box. Walnut maybe? I don't know much about different types of wood.

    Can someone suggest some types of wood that I could use. It needs to be soft and easy to work with - since I don't have a lot of skills. Jarrah would be great for the box but is way too hard!

    Also is it hard to get this wood in bits that arn't too thick or long? I went into Cresent Timber (in Sydney Inner West) to get some ideas, but found the experience a little intimidating!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Taiwan
    Age
    50
    Posts
    184

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    -"Not sure about the wood for the actual box. Walnut maybe? I don't know much about different types of wood.:

    Being an American who's never been to Oz, I can't comment on the qualities of the local woods there, but I'd pick something that looks nice and is not too expensive and just go for it.

    -[Can someone suggest some types of wood that I could use. It needs to be soft and easy to work with - since I don't have a lot of skills. Jarrah would be great for the box but is way too hard!]

    Soft and easy to work with... Hmm... Balsa wood is soft and easy to cut, we often used it in projects for our boyscout troup when we were kids, but I wouldn't want to try and learn to cut dovetails on it. The wood being soft, like pine for example, does not make it easier to learn on, but harder, in my opinion. That's because the fact that it's soft leads to a little more tearout from the teeth of the saw and edges of cuts getting crushed and taking tools marks more easily which leads to it being a bit harder to fit the way you want when you are done. So, I'd recommend a hard wood, not soft. Hard wood does not mean difficult wood.

    -[Also is it hard to get this wood in bits that arn't too thick or long? I went into Cresent Timber (in Sydney Inner West) to get some ideas, but found the experience a little intimidating!]

    For a box I generally start with one long board and cut it into six pieces: four sides, a top, and a bottom. Unless you want to mix and match a few different wood types. So, if you don't need it pre-cut to size picking up a board that is a bit long is not a problem.

    Too thick? I wish I had that problem over here. I'd buy it thick and cut it down to size, bookmatched, if I could. My problem over here in Taiwan is that I can only find thin boards milled for shelving.

    Ya' found it a little intimidating at Crescent Timber?

    Arghh... Just carry a running chain saw with you as you enter the store and rev the engine each time you ask a question, they just might mistake you for a lumber jack and not be so cocky when you ask for service....

    Aloha.
    “When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think...that a time is to come when those (heirlooms) will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.’ “ --John Ruskin. Audels Carpenters and Builders Guide, 1923 Theo Audel & CO. New York.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Adelaide
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    48
    Posts
    639

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    Hi,

    Are you anywhere near trend timbers in Mulgrave (near Windsor). They should be able to help and I've had good service from then at the WWW shows.
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    BrettC

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Westleigh, Sydney
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    73
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    8,936

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    Don't be too scared of Jarrah. It's may be hard, but it's not hard to work with and planes well without tearing out.

    Have a look at Trend Timbers, Mathews at St. Marys or Anagote in Marrickville.
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  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Bowral
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    837

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    For a dark, reddish timber you could try red gum, bloodwood, blue gum, jarrah from Australia, or Paduak for something exotic (Africa). Trend timbers is a good place to start - I just bought a couple of small bits from them at the woodwork show.
    Bob C.

    Never give up.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    171

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    If you want something reddish but not too dark for the sides try Sydney Blue Gum. It's not as hard as Jarrah. BTW I don't think hard is necessarily difficult to work with - for a start you can't get into much trouble oversanding it like you can with softwood?

    For the top what about curly maple? I have a lovely piece of figured maple I bought at the woodwork show some years back for $20. It's about a foot square and over an inch thick so would easily make a top and bottom for your box.

    Go to a good timber yard and ask for some samples then take them home and sand them and put a basic finish on them (ie just one coat of whatever you'll use). Then work out which one/s you want to use for your box.

    My local timber yard have told me they will let me choose exactly which piece/s I want - eg I can unstack their entire stock of jarrah or maple or bluegum or whatever as long as I put it all back when I'm finished.

    It shouldn't be a problem for the timber yard to cut the board to the length you want - one piece for the sides of the box and another for the lid/base.

    Actually I have some samples I picked up while planning my current furniture project that are definitely big enough to make smallish boxes! One is a piece of Sydney Red Gum with a big split down the middle which would be easy to cut out and re-glue the halves back together then slice into two boards to make box sides.

    Steph

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