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Thread: Wood combinations- what say you?

  1. #1

    Wood combinations- what say you?

    Recently, I've noticed some comments about what woods should not go together- *notably Walnut and Cherry...

    My question today is, what combinations of wood go well together?

    I'll start with Walnut and Maple. I've also use Cherry and Maple together and it seems to work.
    File that under "anything goes well with white" advice you got from your mother...

    I expect to see a long list of all kinds of wood, so please don't disappoint...

    *Sorry Mr. Keeton, I'll never do it again, I promise!
    CarveWright Model C
    Stratos Lathe
    Jet 1014

  2. #2
    Jim, since my comment on another thread may have 'stirred' this interest on your part I will respond with this. It think all too often we look at woods in their present state, and they appear to coordinate very well. However, most all woods change dramatically in color over time. It takes some knowledge and experience with that in order to predict what the combination will look like 2, 3 or 5 years down the road. The walnut/cherry is just one instance of that. Another might be Osage Orange paired up with walnut - today, they might look OK together (not my pick, but not bad.) 3 years from now, the OO will have mellowed into a brown, while the walnut is getting an amber hue.

    All that said, walnut/maple were created to be together!!! Particularly, curly maple and walnut!

    Also, BLM burl/walnut do very well together.

    And, to add to your Mom's advice, black goes with nearly anything as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Charlotte, NC

    Not just what looks good today

    I hadn't even considered what you mention John, the change in hues the wood will go thru as it ages.
    Good point. Are there any decent references to show typical changes (now + future), beyond descriptions and personal experiences? I know I've heard of purple heart losing alot of it's color, as with the beautiful red streaks inside box elder that I do really like.

    Just more stuff to fill the body of knowledge in working with wood. Hmmmph, and I thought it was just about making chips!
    Laugh at least once daily, even if at yourself!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Fort Pierce, Florida
    I like most rosewoods (cocobolo especially) with maple even better than walnut.
    Retired - when every day is Saturday (unless it's Sunday).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Greensboro, NC

    Listen to Mom

    I made three checkerboard rolling pins and offered my Mother her choice. One was Maple and Walnut, the second was Maple and Cherry (my favorite), the third was Walnut and Cherry. She put the proverbial death grip on the Cherry and Walnut and said "mine, mine, mine". Pleased with her enthusiasm I made her a brick pattern cutting board with Cherry bricks and Walnut mortar. She could not have been happier. Take it from Mom. Walnut and Cherry go together just fine.

  6. #6
    Maybe I'm asking the wrong question...

    Maybe i should ask:
    Which of the following woods would you combine?
    What would you combine with the following woods?

    Black Locust
    Honey Locust
    Osage Orange
    Sweet Gum
    Bradford Pear
    Crape Myrtle
    Red Cedar
    White Oak
    Red Oak
    Spanish Cedar

    And I'm sure I've got more....
    CarveWright Model C
    Stratos Lathe
    Jet 1014

  7. #7
    First of all, I want to make it clear that I'm kind of color blind. Not in the sense of the test they make you take to renew your drivers license, but more in what matches and what doesn't. But I don't think it's the woods that don't go well together as much as the colors that don't go well together. There's so much variation in the color within a single wood type that it would be too broad to say that two woods don't go well together. But there is some art to color. This web site explains it much better than I ever could.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    White Oak and Walnut look great together.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Enid, Oklahoma
    Maybe there's something wrong with me, but for the most part, I don't like wood combos on turned pieces. I do like the look of ebony or blackwood with almost everything. Beyond that, I'm generally not attacted to combo pieces. Ornaments may be the one consistent exception for me. I do like the looks of some segmented turnings, but I'm generally drawn to the monotone pieces with few accents.

  10. #10
    Curt provided some good information in the link.

    But, perhaps the problem arises from two areas - the first being personal taste. Seems everyone has a favorite color. Personally, there are few greens that appeal to me. On the other hand, Jamie Donaldson, a member of our turning club, and an accomplished turner and professional photographer, loves green.

    The other is the range of color one finds in woods - particularly the domestic species in your list. Nearly all of them are, or will be, a shade of brown, red, yellow, or a combination of hues from those colors.

    Just like clothing, two reds clash - they just do not seem to work together. That is the problem I see with several of the combinations - mahogany/cherry - cherry/cedar - cherry/plum, etc. Though on the plum, I really do not know what it does as it ages, so over time, the cherry/plum may work.

    On the other hand, most browns go quite well together, but may be rather bland - pine/cypress. When combining woods of the same hue, but different tone, I would go for contrast - walnut/maple.

    With the walnut/cherry combo that sparked this debate, I think they do OK (not great) together when freshly cut. The deep purple/brown of the walnut seems to tolerate the light reddish brown of the cherry. But, after both develop a patina, to me the amber tone of the walnut just is not pleasing against the rich red/brown of the cherry. But, I am sure there are others that disagree.

    Of all the classic furniture that is out there, I do not recall seeing any walnut/cherry combinations, though I limited knowledge in that area!! Most of those master craftsmen had a good grasp of those concepts, and their combinations usually worked.

    To your list - I think you could categorize most of the woods into 3 or 4 groupings of hues, and do better with trying to establish some 'matching.'

    For instance, generally, I would group the oaks, ash, aspen, cypress, poplar, pine, maple, dogwood - perhaps a couple of others, and say that all of these represent light brown of various shades. Most of them do not have much red, with some exceptions among species. I would put walnut against any of them -or cherry, or mahogany.

    It will be interesting to see what input you get on this!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    West Virginia
    There will be some great views posted here of that I have no doubt

    Personal taste will account for 99.5% of what combos people like or find others have stated it is not limited to wood. While there are no fast rules, I think most will agree that certain colors work whether its a turning or a car paint scheme to clothing! Welcome to the grey area!

  12. #12
    What would really be informative here is for Leo Van Der Loo to post several of the bowls he has done over the decades to get an idea of walnut, cherry, etc. as they age. Laid side by side, that might give a very good indication of what one could expect over the long haul.


  13. #13
    This is just another in a long list of things I like about the Creek.

    Combinations of wood and their lasting aging isnt something I really thought of.... I know about it, I even talk about it .... but sometimes I still do it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Chevy Chase, Maryland
    I don't think that there should be any hard fast rules. Wood is so variable, even within a given species. I think one needs to just try stuff and see what you like. I made a cabinet a while back and decided to carve lozenge shapes pulls. I tried all sorts of bits of exotics like vera, bloodwood, blue mahoe, and a few others.

    ended up with the bloodwood, though I wass tempted to go withone of each!

    Most of the piece is cherry. The legs are <gasp> walnut! - and half sap and half heartwood at that!

    As for turning, I thought the warm browns of mahogany went well with the gray-beige of mesquite (at least the particular pieces I came upon, as I said):

  15. #15
    My all time favorite wood combination is purpleheart and Ceylon satinwood. For small inlays, ebony and holly are tough to beat. Thom mentioned rosewood and maple. I love rosewood (but only the "good stuff"... not that junk that comes out of CM and looks like dark colored mahogany) and have combined it with figured maple many times. But overall, this is a very subjective thing and what looks good to you might look terrible to another. You gotta go with what you like and figure that someone is not going to like it.
    David DeCristoforo

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