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Thread: Good Substitute for Teak?

  1. #1

    Question Good Substitute for Teak?

    I have a customer that wants six dining chairs made to match his teak dining table. However, he does not want the chairs to be made of teak because of the cost.

    Can anyone recommend a good substitute with a similar grain structure? I am looking at mahogany but my experience with mahogany is that it doesn't take stain well and I need to stain this wood to get it as dark as the dining table, which is dark.

    Any suggestions? Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Grand Rapids, MN
    How about ipe? Not sure it's going to be any cheaper though, might be more.

  3. #3
    I happen to know the guys who supply most of the teak for the east coast...and they said...use ipe.
    Glenn Clabo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Possibly a type of Eucaliptis, Jarrah maybe? I have an out door shower made of Eucaliptus, similar looking to teak, seems to be wearing well, a little lighter/softer.

  5. #5
    He bought a teak table, but doesn't want to spring for the chairs huh?

    As others have said - you could use Ipe, but it's probably just as expensive as Teak. No other woods that I am aware of hold up to the elements outdoors as well as Ipe and Teak - not mahogany, not white oak.... They are both incredibly dense and are nearly completely resistant to rot. When untreated, Ipe weathers to look sort of silvery gray similar to Teak (with a slight purplish tint). Ipe is so dense that it won't even burn.

    If these charis are going to be outdoors and he doesn't use Teak or Ipe, he'll be buying another set of chairs in 5-10 years.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Upstate NY
    3 years ago I wanted to put a shelf behind my teak bed headboard but didn't want to pay $100 for the wood. I thought hickory had a similar grain and played around a little to get a good stain color.

    If you looked at it you would think it is all teak; one of my more successful outcomes.
    Hickory is lousy to work with, but it is cheap and durable.

  7. #7
    I made a garden bench about 7-8 years ago out of "sinker" cypress and
    it's been in the backyard since. Here in Houston, we have heat,rain, and humidity that will eat anything and it's doing fine.

  8. #8
    You might be able to make Jatoba (AKA, Brazilian Cherry?, Coubaril) pass.

    It should be ~25% of the cost of Teak. A pair of the benches below have been outside year-round in MN for ~6 years and they've held up well. I suspect a good sanding and a fresh coat of oil would effectively bring the color back. I haven't tried to stain Jatoba, it waxy like it's tropical relatives, so it could be a challenge. I would think an aniline dye would impart some color, I could give it a whirl if you'd like.

    Jatoba I would say is quite similar to Ipe in density, interlocked grain etc...

    You might also try Lyptus, a plantation grown, fsc certified tropical hardwood that might fill the bill if you can find it.

    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Waterford, MI
    I've made a few pieces of outdoor furniture from Ipe and it holds up extremely well for that but I think it would be one of the last woods I'd choose for dining table chairs. For one thing they'd be awfully heavy. Plus it dulls bits/blades like nothing else. My experience with it for glueing and staining have not been very positive but I've read other forum posts with apparently fewer issues there. Plus it's already much darker than the teak. It's definitely cheaper than Teak (which is why I used it instead) but I think I'd pass for this application. Just my 2 cents. Wish I had a better suggestion but I think I'd bite the bullet and stick with Teak.
    Use the fence Luke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Near Charlotte, NC
    Guys, just because it's teak doesn't mean it's for outdoor use. He said it was a dining table - it could be indoor dining .

    Sorry Chris, I'm too new at this to have a good suggestion for you.

  11. #11
    When I made a coffee table/stool (long story) to match some teak living room furniture a few years back I ended up using Iroko (sometimes called African or Nigerian Teak) because it was 1/3 the price. It's nice wood, works like teak and looks like it *except* the bits I used went much darker when finished. I can't actually recall what I used as a finish unfortunately. So I ended up with a top (real teak veneered) somewhat lighter than the base. Sigh.

    Might be a possibility for you though.
    Smile. It worries the other guy.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Portsmouth, VA
    Use Jatoba. If the wood is finished unstained, the color and grain are very similar. Jatoba will also vary a bit so you would want to pick out the boards with an eye to matching the current table. Jatoba goes for about 5 a foot by me here in VA and it comes in some very nice wide boards as well.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Didn't think of it earlier but some cumaru looks similar to teak if you can find a source where you can pull the boards your self. Wide color variation in that species. Heavy and strong.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Metro West MA
    I don't have first hand experience, but on NYW, Norm has used cypress on a number of shows where he states specifically that its a good alternative to teak. Just another data point for you.


  15. #15
    I would use tigerwood. It is very similar to teak, but may only be available as decking depending on your local dealers (so check MC!). I recently made some adirondack chairs with it and would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a teak strip and tigerwood strip. Same sort of waxy/oily feel. Beautiful depth of grain. Cheaper than jatoba, too.

    I run through several thousand BF of jatoba per year and while some of it looks teakish, it is a harder, more brittle wood that is photoreactive for color, so it will darken and lose some luster over time.

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