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  • Hard Wood recommendations

    I have been using Baltic Birch and learning the ins and outs of this material. I will continue to use it but I want to try using some hard woods.

    We have a local windsor plywood which has a decent selection of wood to choose from. I have always like the birds eye maple speakers from Dynaudio and I may try that.

    But I would like some hard wood recommendations. They have a fair amount of more exotic species that I am unfamiliar.

    I guess, I want to avoid woods that are hard to work with or not stable etc.

    Any tips would be helpful.

    Thank you so much

  • #2
    Do you want hardwood faced plywood? You'll find far less variety and what is well-figured grain in hardwood ply than in veneers, and usually, at a far-far higher cost than using Baltic Birch or MDF and veneering over them. Your location will determine how many hardwood ply varieties are even available to you. I'm not raining on your parade, but birch, plain red maple and walnut are probably your only options. If you have other species available at Windsor Plywood, be sure and take a rag and some denatured alcohol with you. Put some alcohol on the rag and wipe it on the face grain to see what the grain will look like clear finished.
    The only woods to worry about might be the oily tropicals, like bubinga, heartwood of redheart and the very dark tropicals, which are oily (hard to finish) and you may be very allergic to any sawdust from. Any of these will give you "sticker shock" on the price anyway! Something else to consider is compared to good Baltic Birch plywood, hardwood ply usually has more voids and mechanical defects in the substrate plywood. The hardwood supplier I use now, that's also a cabinet shop, has told me of his disappointment of getting more than a single cut (say 2'x4') from a 5'x5' sheet of hardwood ply, because of grain issues.
    Best of luck to you, and the pretty stuff may be much more available to you.

    Ricky-Pooh

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    • #3
      Thank you Whitneyville1,

      I actually had been thinking of getting some 4/4 hard woods. They have some nice varieties that I think would be workable.

      Windsor locally, actually has a large selection of plus. Most hardwoods are available. But I had been wanting to get a away from plywood.

      Than you for the tip on the grain and also potential alergens.

      Comment


      • #4
        Oh, 4/4 random length/random width! OOH! Cauls and glue-ups!!! You'll really need a GOOD jointer to play in their sandbox! Now you're talking CABINETRY!!! Lock joints or biscuit joinery and WOODWORKING!!! Hey my very elderly neighbor across the street was a cabinetmaker and taught me a few things when I was just a shirt-tailed kid. Mr. Rice could do with a Bailey plane what I can't do with a $1000 jointer! I did learn to hand-cut dovetails from him, but even by then, he said there was really no use for them, as glues had come far enough to replace most fancy jointery.
        I still remember the SMELL of a real woodshop, the fresh cut wood, to stove in the corner buring scraps. Enjoy yourself! Life is too short and too fast today.

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        • #5
          If you're an experienced cabinet maker solid wood is an option, though I wouldn't use solid wood wider than 8 inches.
          www.billfitzmaurice.com
          www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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          • #6
            I like any solid hardwood for a baffle/ front. For a whole speaker veneer is the way to go imo
            John H

            Synergy Horn, SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower

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            • #7
              There are a lot of nice looking hardwoods that are easy to work with. Look up "wood movement charts" to see which ones expand and contract less than others, as this is a good indicator of how much splitting and warpage might occur. Also, pay attention to the tangential vs radial movement ratio as this is an indicator of cupping. I've had very good luck with cherry, which doesn't move as much as other woods and has a fairly good T/R ratio. When you build the cabinet, make sure you think about how the wood will expand. A lot of people think that MDF doesn't move as much as hardwoods, but that is not true. What's different about MDF is that the expansion and contraction is the same in all directions, so you don't have to worry about splitting or cupping.

              Be very careful with some of those gorgeous hardwoods with interesting grain patterns. Those variations in the grain can indicate areas of varying hardness that can cause warpage due to internal tensions. I had a 2" thick piece of zebrawood that I sliced down to 1" and it was like releasing tension on a spring. It wasn't a "fun" piece of wood to work with.

              And, as others have noted, some of those hardwoods are toxic. I had a friend who did a guitar project with one of the rosewoods and ended up with large welts on his arms, neck and face. Here is a link to a wood toxicity chart.
              Free Passive Speaker Designer Lite (PSD-Lite) -- http://www.audiodevelopers.com/Softw...Lite/setup.exe

              Comment


              • #8
                I absolutely love the look of hickory boards but man can it be tricky/frustrating to work with. It tears out really easily when maching it with a router and it burns easily if your tools aren't super sharp or you don't move fast enough. I've been on the last step of machining a pair of beautiful hickory baffles only to throw them in the fire wood box :(
                Craig

                I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.

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                • #9
                  From strictly a 'working with it' standpoint, Oak and Maple make good, semi-stable panels to build speakers with that machine pretty well and are fairly readily available. I like Poplar too, it's usually a bit cheaper and though it's only semi-hard, it seems to be durable enough for my clumsy workings, though it isn't very pretty to look at. I've made a few things out of cherry and if you can get past the color tone, it's pretty much like a rock when machined. I've laid rattle-can lacquer over it with no primer and it handled it fine.

                  I agree with John in that unless the speakers are fairly small, using solid wood for a baffle only is the best idea... cheaper and more stable using MDF or particle board covered with veneer for the main box. Wood is going to move if it's moisture content changes, which it will.

                  I've experienced issues with the oil content of some veneers not liking certain finishes. I used waterfall bubinga on a set of speakers a few years back and it just wouldn't take polyurethane for anything. Maybe there is a chart that outlines each specific woods reactance to certain finishes... so you can make sure that your veneer and hardwood like the same finish.

                  TomZ
                  Zarbo Audio Projects Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEZ...aFQSTl6NdOwgxQ * 320-641 Amp Review Youtube: https://youtu.be/ugjfcI5p6m0 *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
                  *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF

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                  • #10
                    Aspen can look like maple if you get straight grain. Soft and easy to work. Mariposas and DanP's NRNP sub in 3/4" aspen. Click image for larger version

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                    • #11
                      I like the hardwood baffle / MDF box approach.

                      The first pic is one of my Caritas showing how I attached the baffle. Than my Prazise built the same way.
                      The Caritas are,,, a few years old I think. The Prazise a couple years newer. Both look and perform like they did when I built them.

                      When I'm ready, I just stroll over to the wood store and buy a board I like that's the right size. That's why I can't name the wood right now.

                      Just trying to give you ideas. We all stand on the shoulders of those that came before.

                      Have Fun! Mark

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by neildavis View Post
                        There are a lot of nice looking hardwoods that are easy to work with. Look up "wood movement charts" to see which ones expand and contract less than others, as this is a good indicator of how much splitting and warpage might occur. Also, pay attention to the tangential vs radial movement ratio as this is an indicator of cupping. I've had very good luck with cherry, which doesn't move as much as other woods and has a fairly good T/R ratio. When you build the cabinet, make sure you think about how the wood will expand. A lot of people think that MDF doesn't move as much as hardwoods, but that is not true. What's different about MDF is that the expansion and contraction is the same in all directions, so you don't have to worry about splitting or cupping.

                        Be very careful with some of those gorgeous hardwoods with interesting grain patterns. Those variations in the grain can indicate areas of varying hardness that can cause warpage due to internal tensions. I had a 2" thick piece of zebrawood that I sliced down to 1" and it was like releasing tension on a spring. It wasn't a "fun" piece of wood to work with.

                        And, as others have noted, some of those hardwoods are toxic. I had a friend who did a guitar project with one of the rosewoods and ended up with large welts on his arms, neck and face. Here is a link to a wood toxicity chart.
                        Wow, this will be my reading for the next couple of days. Much appreciated.

                        I think as above, I am probably better off using hardwoods for baffles and embellishments.

                        Thank you again

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank you all for the input. I think I will stick to the BB plywood box with a hardwood baffle as most have mentioned. I may try some decorative hardwood side pieces as too.

                          Thanks again everyone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Agree with most of the comments here. Plus, if you are using hardwood you may want a moisture meter as well to ensure it doesn't shrink and crack.
                            As an example of integrating hardwoods without getting into real cabinetry work, my recent 5.1 system does that. I used birch ply for the box, but solid maple for the baffles. I also used solid walnut as a type of overlay on the subwoofer to add some style and additional dampening to the cabinet and solid walnut as stands for my little surrounds. I covered all of the birch with walnut veneer, maple veneer, and automotive vinyl. Beside the difficulties of dealing with solid wood, mistakes get very expensive very fast.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by stephenmarklay View Post
                              I have been using Baltic Birch and learning the ins and outs of this material. I will continue to use it but I want to try using some hard woods.

                              We have a local windsor plywood which has a decent selection of wood to choose from. I have always like the birds eye maple speakers from Dynaudio and I may try that.

                              But I would like some hard wood recommendations. They have a fair amount of more exotic species that I am unfamiliar.

                              I guess, I want to avoid woods that are hard to work with or not stable etc.

                              Any tips would be helpful.

                              Thank you so much
                              I get my wood from Windsor as well - their BB is top notch👍 I like to buy the small boards that are usually stacked up in the aisles - I have some nice cherry and maple that I use for accents on my builds. I also have some exotic woods that I got from a shop here in Squamish that was importing wood from Bali. Which Windsor do you go to?
                              See my projects on Instagram and Facebook

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