Alternative for holly

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Forum topic by DonDA posted 12-31-2019 03:02 PM 689 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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193 posts in 4243 days

12-31-2019 03:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: segmented turning wood holly

What is a good alternative for holly in segmented design work? I want to make some feature rings with white in them but holly is very hard to obtain where I live.

-- Don, Saginaw Mi

10 replies so far

View TravisH's profile


758 posts in 2947 days

#1 posted 12-31-2019 03:46 PM

I have some aspen (big box store) that I grabbed one time to use on a project and it was “white”. I sorted through what they had at Menard’s if I recall correctly. I have only a limited amount of holly from a couple places and wasn’t as white as those but not too far off.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4161 posts in 2506 days

#2 posted 12-31-2019 04:24 PM

Not many woods are as white as Holly? :-(
Closest ‘white’ wood is Quaking Aspen, and maybe Buckeye. Which are also hard to find.

Some other light color woods I have seen where you can occasionally hand select a ‘white’ color are:
European Hornbeam, Paper birch, Cottonwood, Horse Chestnut, and of course maple.

Buckeye and Cottonwood smell foul when wet or green. Several of these are long fiber, and tend to fuzz on surface cuts. Which makes them less fun to use, and helps explain why they are less commonly found as lumber.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View MPython's profile


338 posts in 824 days

#3 posted 12-31-2019 05:03 PM

The light colored accent wood of choice for fine 18th Century furniture was satinwood. It is more amber or honey-colored than holly but it has a beautiful chatoyance and sometimes curl that you don’t find in holly. It is pretty rare and expensive these days.

View Phil32's profile


1327 posts in 915 days

#4 posted 12-31-2019 06:15 PM

How about maple, poplar, jelutong?

-- Phil Allin - There are woodworkers and people who collect woodworking tools. The woodworkers have a chair to sit on that they made.

View DonDA's profile


193 posts in 4243 days

#5 posted 12-31-2019 07:03 PM

Thanks guys for the recommendations! That helps a lot.

-- Don, Saginaw Mi

View Redoak49's profile


5097 posts in 3001 days

#6 posted 12-31-2019 08:51 PM

I use Aspen and Maple. I keep my eye out for very white maple and found a couple pieces. I also have bought some Holly on eBay for times when I really need it.

View Woodknack's profile


13550 posts in 3392 days

#7 posted 12-31-2019 09:50 PM

I’ve had some very white poplar, which is sometimes bleached with oxalic acid although I’ve not done it myself.

-- Rick M,

View Underdog's profile


1632 posts in 3048 days

#8 posted 12-31-2019 10:33 PM

If you get maple, make sure to specify a hard rock white maple. Red maple and paint grade maple are just not white enough.
I like making finger tops and snowmen out of the white maple because it machines well, and takes color (sharpies or archival pens) well.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Steve's profile


2436 posts in 1594 days

#9 posted 12-31-2019 11:59 PM

I used some silver maple I picked up that was pretty white

View becikeja's profile


1168 posts in 3825 days

#10 posted 01-01-2020 12:00 PM

Depends on what you’re going for over time. I’ve used Holly on some inlay because I wanted that white color. Over time however (2-3 years), I have found that as the other woods begin to soften in color the holly stays white. Which is good if that’s what you want. On a couple of pieces I have done, it starts to look out of place and the white pops too much. I’ve had much better luck with Aspen.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

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