Monday, October 7, 2013

Buying The Wood: Elegant Elm

 This weekend I made the full commitment to doing the large hand tool cabinet.  I had gone back and forth for weeks, trying to decide what to use for wood.  It looked like my budget was only going to handle a hardwood frame inset with plywood panels, but even in figuring that cost (alder faced plywood at $179 per panel, plus shipping) and alder lumber at $4 bf,  it was looking more expensive than the value of the final product, at least for what I wanted.
  Then I contacted a man I'd met through He lives 150 miles away, but has shipped me some very nice maple and walnut in flat rate boxes.  I asked about his walnut stash, and he replied, "Yes, but right now I have all this Elm sitting."  He showed me photos of a desk he'd made from it, in a warm, golden-oiled beautiful finish, and he had lots of it, in 8/4 thickness and everything from 8" wide to 20" wide.

We drove over to his place, and
here's what I brought home.

I need to add a correction here. 
I'd originally blogged this wood 
as Yew but my seller corrected 
me, it is not Yew, but ELM.  I 
knew that, but was so tired after unloading this pickup, I messed 
up on the unmarked wood and 
had Yew on the brain. Sorry for
the confusion.  It has been 
corrected throughout this post.

And here it is unloaded into the garage:

All Elm, 7' long boards, 14"w down to 8" wide.

And several large slabs, all Elm except for the center one, third from the left, which is 8/4 silver maple, six feet long.

Now that I have it unloaded, I spent some time just sitting on my shop stool staring at it all!  It's so beautiful it makes my heart swell. Silly me.

 Now, I'm just hoping I can get the lower base cabinet of the hand tool cabinet completed before the cold sets in and I can't trust any glue-ups. By then I'll have to wait for spring.  In the meantime, I have grandkids' presents to make, Christmas projects to stock for websites, and a min-lathe stand to build so I can DO the Christmas projects.  I'm hoping those duties will go quickly.   This Elm is going to make an amazing large, floor-standing cabinet, and I am quite excited about building it!  


  1. Ummm.. Wow! You brought home some trees! I can't wait to see what you make. :D

  2. Are you building with plans? I'd be curious to see what you'll be building? I've had my mind on some sort of chest or cabinet for my tools also. Thanks for sharing! Quite a score on the yew.

  3. Thanks, Marilyn, I feel pretty lucky. jdub, I'm altering a Shaker Step-Back cabinet featured in PopWood a few years ago; see my scanned drawing and discussion in a previous blog post from August 2013, titled "Thinking Through a Cabinet Design."

    1. Thanks! Very nice. Can't wait to see it after you build it!

  4. A correction is necessary: this wood is Not Yew, but Elm. My seller contacted me and corrected my mistake. After unloading, evidently I was more tired than I thought. I knew that.... yesterday. Sorry for the confusion. It's still going to be Great wood for this cabinet.

  5. I'm curious how you find working with elm. I seem to recall reading it was preferred for wheel hubs (by wheelwrights) because of strongly interlocking grain. Certainly, the lumber looks beautiful.

  6. Odd. I haven't found interlocking grain in this. Someone else warned me it could be stringy and rather soft. I suspect there are so many different types of Elm, people have different experiences with it. I don't know this specific genus, but what I've cut so far has been nicely straight grained and easy to work. I'm cutting oversized to see if our high winter humidity levels will cause it to change dimension very much.


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