Wood choice for farm house trestle table

Jeff73

New User
Jeff
I am relatively new to wood working and am looking for some advice / opinion on wood selection for building a farmhouse trestle table for our kitchen. It will be a gray wash finish. I have a 6” jointer and and a thickness planer (in addition to the “normal” tools ). As this will be my first attempt, I have high hopes, but tempered with realistic expectations. With this in mind , I am trying to go with a wood that would be appropriate for gray wash and reasonably economical. Have considered rough pine boards, poplar, oak or even milling my own boards from big box 2x(8/10/12) lumber. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

Oka

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Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Oak takes a wash finish very nicely. It is a pretty easy wood to finish this way. Quite forgiving.
Poplar or Yellow pine will work also, of you want a more consistent overall finish I would seal it 1st with a pre-stain sealer.

With Washes or stains, watching how it absorbs into the wood is key. Different areas will absorb faster than others. You just have to monitor and wipe off accordingly. Additionally, when laying off the finish, you will gain an understanding on how much pressure you apply to the wipe off cloth as you go.

I would recommend you get some different types wood and do mock ups and see which is the one you are most happy how it finishes.
 

JNCarr

Joe
Corporate Member
Agree with Casey - oak is a great wood for this; easy to mill, takes almost any stain (including gray wash) and importantly for a table is very hard.
Wormy maple makes a great farmhouse style table, but I've not gray washed it, so cant comment there...
 
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SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Hard maple would stain well and be more durable than the poplar and is typically easier to work with than oak as it doens't tend to splinter as much.
 
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wbarnes

Will
Corporate Member
I would avoid poplar and pine like others have mentioned. They are softer and will dent/scratch easier.
 

walnutjerry

Jerry
Senior User
I am relatively new to wood working and am looking for some advice / opinion on wood selection for building a farmhouse trestle table for our kitchen. It will be a gray wash finish. I have a 6” jointer and and a thickness planer (in addition to the “normal” tools ). As this will be my first attempt, I have high hopes, but tempered with realistic expectations. With this in mind , I am trying to go with a wood that would be appropriate for gray wash and reasonably economical. Have considered rough pine boards, poplar, oak or even milling my own boards from big box 2x(8/10/12) lumber. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
In regards to what wood to use, the people in earlier times used what they had or was available to them locally. We once owned an old farm house (built in 1923) that still had the dining table in it built by the original owner of the house. The stand or legs and aprons were red oak, the top was poplar and never had a "finish" put on it. Probably did not have a finish because they kept an oil cloth on it all the time. The oak parts did have some type of finish which was probably shellac or varnish. So--------how much of a purist are you? I am sure there are other examples that will be all together different.
 

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
I would only add: steer clear of using dimensional lumber (2x6/8/10/12).

it can be done, but the wood is relatively wet and should be expected to cup and warp after machining.

No good reason to add fighting with your lumber to the project if you have access to properly dried stock.

-Mark
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Good advice from everyone here. I would go w/ Red Oak: Cost effective; fairly easy to work; takes a wash finish well; very appropriate for a farm table; durable.

As Mark said, stay away from dimension lumber (SYP) from the big box stores. Not only does it tend to move a lot as it dries, but it can be hard to finish. It has a 'waxy' finish that interferes w/ the finish and can be difficult to remove.
 
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JohnnyR

John
Corporate Member
I agree with the comments above. I've done a gray wash on quarter sawn WO and it looks great. If this is going to be a lifetime table for you, I'd spend the extra $ for it. You don't need quarter sawn for the base or apron if any.
 

srhardwoods

Chris
Senior User
Instead of red oak, myself I would go with ash. You are doing a white wash finish and using ash would eliminate, or hopefully eliminate the red/pick tone of the wood. Look for a white ash on one face to make it consistent and keeping a consistent color tone.

White oak right now is incredibly expensive and with the red tint of red oak Ash might help you get that even/consistency color.

framing lumber from the big box stores is only kiln dried to 19% moisture content since anything below 20% won't allow mold to grow. It will continue to dry until it reaches EMC. Also, the majority of those boards have a boxed heart with is the most unstable part of the log.
 

iclark

Ivan
User
If you want a uniform appearance to the top, white oak or ash is likely to be much easier than red oak. The red oak will soak up varying amounts of the wash depending on the grain orientation of the top. The end grain of red oak will also suck in a lot more wash than the end grain of a closed-cell wood.
 

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