Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aurora Nightstand - Buying and Milling the Lumber

I had big plans to visit a few local hardwood dealers when it came time to buy the wood for the Aurora nightstand.  But as it turned out, only one--Spellman Hardwoods--had any 5/4 African mahogany.

Spellman is probably the biggest hardwood dealer in Phoenix.  I was a little bit worried that they wouldn't be too interested in my tiny little order, but they treated me just fine.  Their yard guy helped me look through their stock, gave me some hints, and very kindly helped me load my boards onto my trailer.

Besides the 5/4 material, I needed a little bit of 8/4 stock for the table legs.  I also bought a 4/4 board to avoid wasting 5/4 material on some of the thinner parts.  Here's what my stash looked like after I had roughly cut the boards needed for the table and put the leftovers away for some future project.

For some reason, that looked to me like an awful lot of wood for such a little table. So I decided to weigh it. Then I can check again when the project is done to see how much of the original material actually makes it into the table and how much ends up as scrap and sawdust. For the record, the pictured pile weighed about 61 pounds according to my bathroom scale.

Here's the same pile of wood after a few hours in close proximity with my jointer, planer, and a couple of hand planes.

These parts are still somewhat oversize in length and width, and about 1/8" thicker than they will be eventually. The idea behind the careful stickering is to expose the freshly milled surfaces to the air for a while and give the wood one last chance to warp and twist and bend before doing the final milling. Of course it also guarantees that whatever part I need next will be on the bottom of the stack.


Vic Hubbard said...

It's gonna cool watching you make this come to life!

Paul-Marcel said...

+1 will be a fun build to watch; that nightstand is spectacular!

Rob said...

I want to build this table as my first piece of serious furniture. I am struggling with the wood choice. I really like the maple that comes out of Oregon, but it is harder than the mahogany and can have tricky grain. Do you think this would make the table significantly more difficult?

Rob said...

Thank you for all the work that went into this blog! It has already been a big help. Where do you go to ask G &G questions?

rmac said...

Hi Rob,

I'm not a G & G expert by any means. Before I made my table, I got a book called "Greene and Green - Design Elements for the Workshop" by Darrell Peart, and found it to be quite helpful. For specific questions, the folks at sometimes give good advice. In fact, Darrell himself sometimes participates there.

If you're planning to do a lot of the work by hand, then I think you may be right that the additional hardness of the maple might make things more difficult. But if you're a power tool guy, maybe not. The other thing I'd consider is the overall appearance when you're done. To my eye, G & G ebony plugs and splines look kind of cartoonish when used with a light wood like maple. Against a darker wood, they are much more subtle and elegant to me. Your mileage may vary on that.

-- Russ

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