Adirondack Chair #2: Buying Wood

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Blog entry by Scott R. Turner posted 11-30-2013 04:13 AM 1940 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Mock Up Part 2 of Adirondack Chair series Part 3: Mock Up Done »

Left work a little early today to go by Vienna Hardwoods (that’s Virginia, not Austria) to pick up some African Mahogany for the Adirondack chair. I’d considered some other wood sources in the area (particularly Exotic Hardwoods over in Maryland) but Vienna Hardwoods had the best prices that I found and on an earlier scouting trip I’d seen plenty of acceptable boards.

If nothing else, Vienna Hardwoods is an adventure—a small warehouse space jammed with a jumble of wood of every type and size. Walking back to find the mahogany, I came across a pile of Honduras Mahogany (too expensive for this project) featuring a board that was 25” wide and almost 12 feet long. Wow. For a few moments I was tempted just to buy it then and there and worry about what to use it for later. But common sense prevailed.

As it happened, they had a brand new pallet of 4/4 African Mahogany out back. Every board 7 feet long and in widths from about 3 to 14 inches. I got someone to cut the bands off the pallet and quickly picked out five boards that will cover most of what I need for the chair. The 7 foot length turned out pretty handy. The rear door on our minivan is broken at the moment, so I was transporting the wood in my Camry, and 7 foot was close to the longest I could easily fit.

The boards are rough four sides, but later that night I found time to put one of the boards on the workbench and clean it up.

That’s a #4 Groz hand plane that I picked up very cheaply when Woodcraft discontinued them. After tuning up the plane, I ground a radius on the blade to make it into a scrub plane. It actually works very well. Considering the investment, I couldn’t be happier.

Vertical marks from the mill’s bandsaw.

After flattening out the face, I took out the smoother and cleaned up a patch to get a good picture of the color and figure. It’s hard to take good pictures of wood, but it’s very lovely and has a much better color than I expected from African Mahogany. I hope it won’t fade too badly over time.

This board is quite odd. It looks flatsawn, but the grain changes direction about in the middle of the board and the grain rings have islands on both halves of the board. I suppose it might have been cut from a tree with a big kink in the trunk or something.

Tomorrow’s adventure will be going to the community woodshop to borrow a bandsaw and resaw this board and another to 3/8” for making seat and back slats.

3 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4218 days

#1 posted 11-30-2013 06:59 AM

Can’t wait to to see the completed chair

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View danoaz's profile


223 posts in 3385 days

#2 posted 11-30-2013 01:23 PM

It is funny that you posted this because I was at Rockler two days ago and they had African Mahogany for some time and I saw that there were about eight pieces left that were seven feet long and at a cost of…2.99 per board foot. I cleaned them out. I have never worked with this wood and have no idea what I am going to build but man, I just could not pass that up.
I haven’t settled on a design yet but I was thinking of building some chairs for our patio to replace some torn up wicker things. Looking forward to see what you do. Thanks.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4403 days

#3 posted 11-30-2013 02:12 PM

Thanks for the thoughts. I wish I could stumble into some $2.99 mahogany! That never happens to me. Also, I never find a complete set of hollows & rounds at a garage sale for $25…

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