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Forum topic by ABwood posted 11-12-2019 11:30 PM 434 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ABwood's profile


21 posts in 225 days

11-12-2019 11:30 PM

Hey all,

I’ve heard all the horror stories about working Sweetgum. But I’ve also heard the success stories and how nice it looks for some furniture. So of course I had to try it out for myself.

I got 2 slabs that I worked and joined to make a 72” entertainment center/table. I’m using the Sweetgum for the top, and red oak for the sides and cabinet doors.

My guy doesn’t have anymore Sweetgum, so I need to use something else for the bottom. I planned on using Watco dark walnut for the oak, and maybe something darker for the Sweetgum, like an Ebony, to contrast.

My question is, what affordable wood would be good for the bottom that will stain similar to the Sweetgum? I was thinking maybe Poplar, since most of the bottom will be hidden by the cabinets. My main concern is that the top and bottom match as close as possible.


5 replies so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


756 posts in 3839 days

#1 posted 11-13-2019 04:22 AM

Yup. I’d go with poplar. Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Aj2's profile


2574 posts in 2364 days

#2 posted 11-13-2019 05:08 AM

I like the the smoky look sweet gum has.

-- Aj

View therealSteveN's profile


4348 posts in 1140 days

#3 posted 11-13-2019 06:58 AM

If you come off stain, and instead use dye, you can make any color you can think of. Poplar is good at taking color, it’s problem with color is blotch, definitely use a grain sealer.

I like Gum too, I hear folks on here talk about Alder, meaning it looks like anything. They evidently haven’t been around much Gum, it really does look like everything.

-- Think safe, be safe

View ibewjon's profile


1080 posts in 3359 days

#4 posted 11-13-2019 10:21 AM

The gum I have seen with a clear finish is beautiful. I think dark stain would be an insult to mother nature. I think ebony stain will hide the grain. But it is your project.

View Bill_Steele's profile


606 posts in 2298 days

#5 posted 11-15-2019 03:19 PM

It’s possible that you can match the color of the stain and/or the grain with another species of wood. If so—perfect—but….if the match is off it may be obvious or even distracting. You should definitely test the color of the stain with a test piece.

Another option may be to make the bottom a totally different color. Perhaps with paint or a dye (as therealSteveN suggested). Maybe the contrast will add some interest. This approach will make color matching unnecessary and may reduce grain matching needs.

A dye can add some interest and will not cover up the grain like paint. Here are some drawer fronts I dyed. Once I add a little oil and poly it darkens the color a little, but you can still see the grain. The dye goes into the wood rather than sitting on top of it.

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