Which hardwood for bed?

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Forum topic by ATLJack posted 03-01-2012 10:45 PM 1655 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ATLJack's profile


30 posts in 3254 days

03-01-2012 10:45 PM

I dont have a lot of experience with hardwoods and need your help selecting a wood to use. I am going to make my boys beds. I want to be able to finish it with a dark stain and I want to choose one of the lease expensive hardwoods. I was initially thinking Alder (due to cost), but I am worried that it might be too soft and my boys might ding it. Should I use white oak?

20 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4380 posts in 3921 days

#1 posted 03-01-2012 10:53 PM

White oak is one of the few woods that I actually like to stain. It would be an excellent selection especially if you choose to do something in the mission or arts and crafts styles. But white oak is not cheap in our area (I assume you’re in Atlanta too). Maple could be had for pretty cheap here, as well as cherry. Red oak is going to be cheaper than white oak as well. Ideally you’d buy walnut or a type of wood that matches your color without stain needed, but walnut is pretty expensive.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 4273 days

#2 posted 03-01-2012 11:00 PM

White or Red It’s Oak I said. But for a challenge its Arts and Crafts fumed in Ammonium hydroxide, finished with shellac or varnish with a final sealer of poly. In the process of doing this right now. If you did it this way I’d feel much better. (I think its textbook cognitive dissonance?) If any small producers in your area see what they try to sell you. Good luck. Don’t forget the sanding blocks that fit the boy’s hands. s

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View jdmaher's profile


471 posts in 3549 days

#3 posted 03-01-2012 11:38 PM

I love white oak, both to work and for the looks, but its a little pricey around Chicago.

Does ‘ATL’ mean Atlanta? Is yellow pine cheap around you?

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3968 days

#4 posted 03-01-2012 11:41 PM

I would say make it out of what is cheap. They will ding it. Wouldn’t matter if it were steel. If you want to give them some really pretty furniture, wait until they are grown. Better yet, have them come out and help make it.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Dano46's profile


86 posts in 4139 days

#5 posted 03-02-2012 01:19 AM

I built a set of walnut twin beds years ago, and used a clear poly finish. Boys will ding, scratch, dent about anything. About 3 years ago I built a swinging cradle, and used hickory. It’s tough, hard, and has some flex to it. It is also somewhat difficult to work with, heavy, and doesn’t take stain well. It sure is pretty with clear poly though.
Around here (St. Louis) walnut is around $7.25 a BF, and hickory $2.95.
Good luck….....and try to get those boys interested in helping.

-- You can't trust a dog to guard your food.

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3546 days

#6 posted 03-02-2012 02:12 AM

White oak or hard maple would be my choice, though WO is easier to stain.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View bondogaposis's profile


5929 posts in 3321 days

#7 posted 03-02-2012 02:34 AM

I say concrete until they are 16 at least.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View ATLJack's profile


30 posts in 3254 days

#8 posted 03-02-2012 03:56 PM

I am in Atlanta. My wife picked out an arts & craft style bed that she wants me to replicate. I need to make 3 twin beds and figure I need to buy 100 ft, if not more (assuming I calculated it right the the actual requirement is 70 ft).

I was going to buy quarter sawn, but now that I am pricing it out I think I need to stick to plain sawn. I think plain sawn kiln dried 5/4 white oak is in the $4+/- range (quarter sawn is ~$6.75). Red oak is a little cheaper at ~$3.35. I found a much cheaper source for air dried but I have never used air dried before and dont understand the implications of that in a humid climate like here in Atlanta.

I think yellow pine is in the low to mid $2 range, but am afraid that it would be too soft. Although, I am most familiar with pine because I grew up learning the hobby from my dad in New Mexico where everything is made of pine.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4044 days

#9 posted 03-02-2012 05:34 PM

No one can make this decision for you. You need to decide what is important. If you are going to a great look, I would favor walnut, cherry, mahogany or white oak.

If you are going for functionality and low cost I would favor red oak, ash, hackberry or sycamore. Where I live (Iowa) hackberry is very common and very cheap and it is as pretty as old dish water – but you can stain it to look like whatever you want (within reason).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3893 days

#10 posted 03-02-2012 05:58 PM

Why is it no one seems to like Poplar? I’ve been using it for years and never had a problem. I’ve stained it cherry,walnut and chestnut and get lots of compliments on it. I get rough cut for 2.25 b/f here in Tampa.

-- Life is good.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3638 posts in 4407 days

#11 posted 03-02-2012 06:12 PM

They’re kids, they’ll beat on it, and then they’ll leave and you with the extra beds in a place you will want to put a jacuzzi in.

I don’t know where you are but go to a big box store and buy some 10” or 12” wide framing lumber. Cut it down and joint and plane it. It comes out looking nice with a shiny smooth surface and crisp square edges. Then make away. It handles nicely and cuts and drills well. you can use the lumber thickness to give it that heavy duty ‘boy’ look. Get some 2” and 3” grk screws. It will cost you next to nothing and your kids will love it with the knots and such. In what will actually be just a few years.. comes on quickly a skill saw will make fast work of them, the mattresses will be ready for the dump and you’ll have a spare room.
We did this with our two daughters. and made bunk beds for them years ago. They became firewood 15 years later.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3457 days

#12 posted 03-02-2012 06:24 PM

I agree with Craftsman on the lake. For decades furniture in ATL was made from pine. Yeah, it gets beat up, but in 100 years, it’ll be on antiques Road Show as ‘Primitive” work.

The kids aren’t going to keep those beds anyway. Use ‘em and lose ‘em.

Just my pair of centavos.


-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Dano46's profile


86 posts in 4139 days

#13 posted 03-02-2012 07:44 PM

Hey Howie, I like poplar too, and I don’t know about stain. Right now I am building some bookshelves out of poplar that will go into a Habitat for Humanity home, and they will be painted. It does take and hold paint well.

-- You can't trust a dog to guard your food.

View ATLJack's profile


30 posts in 3254 days

#14 posted 03-02-2012 08:33 PM

I found 4/4 kiln dried #1 & #2 black walnut for $4 or white oak for $2.50. If the black walnut looks more like #1 (to my untrained eye) I will probably go that route.

View Brandon's profile


4380 posts in 3921 days

#15 posted 03-02-2012 09:37 PM

Just curious where you found those prices? I’m also in Atlanta.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

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