Ash, white oak or red oak or...?

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Forum topic by JCamp posted 01-09-2020 10:53 PM 766 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1222 posts in 1401 days

01-09-2020 10:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve got a list of things I would like to slowly build such as end tables, night stands, large tv stand and a book shelf. My thoughts are to build all the bottom sections from white pine and paint them white then make a nice thick hardwood top (probably 1-1/4 thick) stained a medium dark brown. So all that to ask this: what wood would b best used for the top? There isn’t a horrible difference in price. Also open to suggestions on other wood but I kind of like the grain in oak and it needs to b tough enough to not dent real easy

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

20 replies so far

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3 posts in 808 days

#1 posted 01-09-2020 11:06 PM

In my area I use a lot of ash. Cheap, hard, and readily available. Depends on personal preference, cost, and finishing technique to me.

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1222 posts in 1401 days

#2 posted 01-09-2020 11:14 PM

Well BF pricing is something like White oak-$3.75, Ash-$3.00, Red oak-$2.75 for the 6/4 stuff. So price difference shouldn’t b to bad

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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6261 posts in 1424 days

#3 posted 01-09-2020 11:38 PM

You posted a list in the title. Ash, white oak or red oak, all of which are woods with an open grain. Sometimes it looks fine for a top, but many folks fill the pores. You may want to finish some samples if those are the species easily found near you, just to see what they will look like.

Depending on the painted colors I am really partial to darker paints with white Maple tops. Lighter painted pieces with Cherry, or Walnut tops. All offer a nice contrast, and if you do a nice job on finishing the hardwood they can look spectacular.

The painted bottom, and hardwood top can give a great appearance. While you are looking at wood, check prices on Poplar, and Soft Maple, it depends where you are, but I can often get them cheaper than pine, and both paint really well. For case pieces plywood is great for price, plus it gives you a pass on allowing for wood movement. All you need to do is allow for edge pieces to hide the end grain.

Good luck.

-- Think safe, be safe

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26482 posts in 3534 days

#4 posted 01-09-2020 11:59 PM

Ash has been used in my shop, for a while..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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1016 posts in 1029 days

#5 posted 01-10-2020 12:12 AM

I would also suggest looking into all hardwoods. The difference on an end table is going to be pennies.

Currently I buy FAS red oak cheaper than pine.

When you figure in waste factor is higher with pine, it’s a no brainer if hardwood is what you want.

View knotscott's profile


8385 posts in 4226 days

#6 posted 01-10-2020 12:52 AM

I like ash. It works well, can look beautiful if you select carefully, is more unusual than oak, and it’s in trouble because of the emerald ash borer so it may get harder to come by in the future.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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680 posts in 1599 days

#7 posted 01-10-2020 12:52 AM

If you go with oak, better to use white oak. But, oak versus ash, I’d go with ash.

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708 posts in 630 days

#8 posted 01-10-2020 01:21 AM

When I have no preference, I go to the lumber yard and look at what they have and see if one of the “okay to use” species is in stock with some amazing grain or a fantastic price then it helps me decide.

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2840 days

#9 posted 01-10-2020 02:06 AM

I much prefer white oak to ash or red oak, point being all are ok and will be similar to work. Depends on which one you like to look at, not us. You might price walnut since you said medium dark brown . I would still dye the walnut – I dont care for it’s natural look, but the right dye makes it very nice.

View Andre's profile


3696 posts in 2656 days

#10 posted 01-10-2020 06:32 AM

If you want dark color on the top why not Walnut? i could never understand why people stain wood to match the color of a different wood?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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Fred Hargis

6422 posts in 3344 days

#11 posted 01-10-2020 11:24 AM

When you say “best”, any of the ones you listed will do well, so would quite a few others. But using pine and painting for the frame/bottom might not work out so well. Clear pine is very expensive, and the grain may well telegraph through the paint. Knotty pine adds dealing with the knots. Poplar, sometimes maple (either hard or soft) and perhaps a few others can be had for less (generally) and give you a much better result.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Lazyman's profile


5811 posts in 2238 days

#12 posted 01-10-2020 11:33 AM

+1 on using poplar for the the painted portion. It is very good for painting and will generally give you a nicer finish than pine. You might also consider hickory for the top, though as mentioned, if you are thinking about a dark stain, I would probably use walnut and also not paint the bottom white. To me a white base looks best with a natural colored or at least only lightly stained top. With a dark top, for contrast, I would use one of the other woods you mentioned (unpainted) for the base.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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1615 posts in 1439 days

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

Most folx can’t tell ash from white oak. Both have very open pores and a ‘loud’ grain. The suggestion to get some scraps and test finishes is a good one. Then, to insure success, don’t ask us, let your significant other decide. Your opinion mox nix. LOL


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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2463 posts in 756 days

#14 posted 01-10-2020 03:37 PM

Well if you want it medium brown anyways, don’t rule out walnut.

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5841 posts in 3202 days

#15 posted 01-10-2020 03:53 PM

Of those three I would choose quarter sawn white oak.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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