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Thread: Hardwoods that improve with age

  1. #1

    Hardwoods that improve with age

    Hello All,
    Every time I search online for hardwoods that improve with age, I only find the usual suspects (Maple, Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, Sapele, Butternut). I have managed to find info on a couple of exotics which also improve with time (Jatoba, Olivewood), but I was wondering if anyone out there would know of a more extensive list of exotics that are known for sure to improve in appearance over time. I have also seen the colorfast chart on the wood database, but it too is limited in information (in my opinion). Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    personally, i think walnut doesn't improve with age. it goes tan. loses the purples and greens. sapele and mahogany on the other hand, go a nice deep rich red/brown, and get far better with age. makore is beautiful as well... but increasingly rare and hard to get.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Bazajou View Post
    Hello All,
    Every time I search online for hardwoods that improve with age, I only find the usual suspects (Maple, Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, Sapele, Butternut). I have managed to find info on a couple of exotics which also improve with time (Jatoba, Olivewood), but I was wondering if anyone out there would know of a more extensive list of exotics that are known for sure to improve in appearance over time. I have also seen the colorfast chart on the wood database, but it too is limited in information (in my opinion). Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  3. #3
    Purpleheart gets much better with time. Starts dull and gets brighter over time. Cherry and Sapele/Mahogany as well. Agreed, Walnut doesn't age well.

  4. #4
    I agree about walnut. If it gets in sunlight, it goes pale. If out of direct sunlight this process is very slow, however. I have a couple walnut pieces 20 years or more old that are still dark.

    Cherry does the opposite. It starts out light colored without real clear differentiation between heart and sap wood. But when exposed to sunlight the heartwood deepens to a nice reddish brown while the sapwood stays light like maple.

    I don't know anything about exotics. Maple stays about the same color but depending on finish may yellow (possibly only with oil based poly on it).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart Lang View Post
    Purpleheart gets much better with time. Starts dull and gets brighter over time. Cherry and Sapele/Mahogany as well. Agreed, Walnut doesn't age well.
    I've never worked with Purpleheart but my understanding based on reading here and elsewhere is that Purpleheart goes to brown with time and exposure to UV.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  6. #6
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    Really old walnut and mahogany get hard to identify. The colors get pretty close to each other. Especially if shellac was used for the clear finish.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I don't know anything about exotics. Maple stays about the same color but depending on finish may yellow (possibly only with oil based poly on it).
    I agree about maple. It starts out looking a magnificent "white" and gradually ages to an ugly yellow.

    Walnut goes pale.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    I've never worked with Purpleheart but my understanding based on reading here and elsewhere is that Purpleheart goes to brown with time and exposure to UV.
    It has a very dull color when you cut it and will gradually brighten up over the first few months to a bright purple. It'll keep that colors for years indoors. Outdoors it will eventually brown with time. Padauk is the opposite. Super bright when you cut it but starts to fade over the next few months to a duller red. I work with both quite extensively. I've never seen either actually reach "brown", just a duller color.

  9. #9
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    I made walnut rails for lofts in my home. The hand rail at the stairs gets touched by hands often. It's highly polished and "improved" to my eye compaired to the other untouched walnut rails.
    The danish oil finish helps this effect.
    Improving with age is very subjective. Some people love patina. Some people are not wood lovers
    "Whether you think you can, or you think you canít - youíre right."
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Joiner View Post
    I made walnut rails for lofts in my home. The hand rail at the stairs gets touched by hands often. It's highly polished and "improved" to my eye compaired to the other untouched walnut rails.
    The danish oil finish helps this effect.
    Improving with age is very subjective. Some people love patina. Some people are not wood lovers
    I believe everyone else is talking about the color. All the deep purple and dark chocolate hues disappear with age and you get a more muted orange color. If asked to match old walnut, I start the finishing process with orange shellac. Once I had to start with a thinned orange stain to come close to the color. I don't understand the reference to loving wood and color shift.
    Last edited by Richard Coers; 05-27-2021 at 4:52 PM.

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