Flexner on Finishing: Finishing the 5 Types of Woods


Organize all the woods into categories to determine the best finishing strategy.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 66-68

From the April 2009 issue #175
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Woodworkers choose among dozens of wood species for projects. Unless you’ve actually used many different woods and experience how they machine, feel, smell and respond to stains and finishes, you probably find making an intelligent choice confusing. There needs to be some way to organize woods so decisions are easier.

And there is.

To begin with, you can divide all woods into five large categories: pine and related softwoods, coarse-grained hardwoods, medium-grained hardwoods, fine-grained hardwoods, and exotics.

Traditional furniture is rarely made of pine or exotics, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s reduce the categories to three: course-, medium-, and fine-grained hardwoods. And to begin with, let’s deal with just the five most common traditional furniture hardwoods: oak, walnut, mahogany, cherry and maple.


From the April 2009 issue #175
Buy this issue now