Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FDR chair: good news and bad news about quarter sawn white oak

I decided to make the chair from quarter sawn white oak, for the reasons I discussed previously, and, uncharacteristically, I even went to the trouble of carefully figuring out exactly what I would need, right down to the board lengths and thicknesses that would be best.  The exact size of the blanks needed for the back/rear legs is 3'x4 1/4"x6".  There is no way to avoid 2 glue lines with the material available to me, so I decided that 6/4 stock would be best for everything but the front legs.

I usually buy my stock from a very large local, commercial hardwood supplier because, with many millions of board feet in their warehouse, they have a fantastic selection and good prices.  They tolerate me because I always make sure to restack the piles carefully and don't waste their time.  When I told the warehouseman what I wanted, he just laughed and shook his head.  It seems that the distilleries have bought up all the 6/4 quarter sawn white oak to make whiskey barrels out of.  They did have some 8/4, although the price has skyrocketed to over $9 a board foot since the last time I bought it!  I reluctantly decided to buy enough to make the rear legs/back, and I think they took pity on me because they pointed to a pallet of 5/4 scraps, all quarter sawn white oak, and asked if I wanted the whole thing for $40.  I jumped at it.

These two boards cost $154 and contain enough material for the rear legs/back pieces, the front legs and the stretchers:

This pallet of scraps, most about 3" wide and 20-30" long, cost $40:

The 8/4 boards were about $9 a board foot and I estimate there are about 120 board feet of scraps at about $.33 a board foot.  My current plan is to get the rest of what I need for the chair from these scraps, even though it is 5/4 rather than 6/4 but, whether I do or not, I am absolutely delighted to have all this beautiful oak for future projects.

The approach I took to making the back/rear leg blanks, was to glue two 8/4 pieces together, saw out the side profile on the bandsaw, then glue on a piece of scrap at the top where the arch will be.  Then I can use double stick tape to put the offcuts back on in order to saw out the front profile.  Here's what they look like just prior to this last step:


  1. Any chance you'd be willing to share your lumber source? I live in Vancouver and have been looking for a decent source of lumber.

    1. If you can get me your phone number or email address I will be happy to give you suggestions for hardwood suppliers in the Portland area.

  2. That is a sweet deal on the pallet of WO and it looks like the threw the pallet in too.