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    • CommentAuthordragondncr
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2009
    I am building a night stand out of some Madrone I picked up locally. I have been reading Bob Flexner's book on finishing, but still need help. This is my first attempt at building a piece of furniture, and I would sure hate to blow that stage of it. Any suggestions on the best type of finish and tecniques for Madrone.

    Thank you,
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2009 edited
    I gleaned this off the Oregon State web site. Sometimes knowing your wood properties can help you make intelligent choices about finishing (and everything else that has to do with your project):

    Pacific madrone is a hard, heavy wood with a fine grain and little texture. The sapwood is white or cream-colored with a pinkish tinge; the heartwood is a light reddish-brown. The wood is without any characteristic odor or taste. Pacific madrone wood is diffuse porous; the pores are nearly uniform, numerous, and minute. With a hand lens, the growth rings are barely visible. The rays range from barely visible to readily visible.

    Pacific madrone weighs about 60 lb/ft3 when green and 45 lb/ft3 at 12 percent MC. The average specific gravity is 0.58 for green volume and 0.69 for ovendry.

    Mechanical Properties
    Pacific madrone wood has good strength properties. For most of its common applications (e.g., flooring or furniture), its resistance to indentation and abrasion is a plus. Pacific madrone has exceptional resistance to breakage, making it suitable for joinery. Because of its hardness, nailing is difficult and splitting is likely unless the wood is prebored. See Appendix 1, Table 3 for average mechanical properties for small, clear specimens.

    Drying and Shrinkage
    Pacific madrone requires special care during drying because of its wetwood, which can contribute to collapse. Green MC for this wood ranges from 68 to 93 percent. Its shrinkage values are considerably higher than for most other woods, which may result in increased drying degrade from warp. The radial shrinkage (green to ovendry) is 5.4 percent and the tangential shrinkage is 11.9 percent. For comparison, the respective values for alder are 4.4 percent and 7.3 percent, and for white oak are 4.2 percent and 9.0 percent. Lumber cut in a quartersawn pattern will minimize some of the high shrink/warp potential; otherwise, careful design consideration is a must. Because the tree does not always grow straight, tension wood sometimes forms, which will contribute to nonuniform shrinkage. Presteaming the kiln charge and stickering at a closer interval has been used successfully to control warp. (See the tables below for the appropriate kiln schedules).

    Prior to kiln drying, Pacific madrone can develop a chemical oxidative stain that appears as blue or purple streaking in the wood. It does not show on rough-sawn surfaces of the wood and is apparent only after planing. To minimize staining, madrone should be dried as soon as possible after sawmilling, and tight stacking of wet lumber should be avoided.

    Of all the hardwoods of the Pacific Northwest, Pacific madrone ranks highest (fewest machining defects) for planing, shaping, boring, and turning. Because of its high density, it should not be processed too fast (overfeed). It is recommended that saws and other tooling have a hook angle of 20° and a sharpness angle of 55° for optimum performance. As with other fine-grain, hard woods such as birch or maple, surface scratching (cross-grain or swirls) during sanding can be a problem with Pacific madrone.

    Pacific madrone bonds well; there are no unusual problems with this wood when gluing conditions are moderately well controlled. Careful curing/drying of glue joints is required to prevent sunken gluelines from subsequent machining.

    Pacific madrone finishes well, without the need to fill the grain; it colors best with dyes or transparent stains. Heavily pigmented stains tend to be muddy in appearance. Pacific madrone can be successfully ebonized.

    Pacific madrone is a nondurable species that is susceptible to wood decay. Untreated wood posts in ground contact have an average service life of 6 years. Mold and oxidative staining are moderate problems.

    Pacific madrone is used for furniture, flooring, turnings, paneling, veneer for hardwood plywood faces and core stock, pulpwood, and firewood.

    Whatever finish you decide on, I would strongly suggest you first finish a "test piece," maybe make several test pieces with different finishes and stains before you apply a finish to your project.

    With all good wishes,
    • CommentAuthordragondncr
    • CommentTimeMay 20th 2009
    Thanks for the info Nick. I think your suggestion of trying different finishes and stains is the best way to go. It will give me a little practise.

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