what wood to use for intertainment center

fishingjeffFebruary 8, 2009

I was hoping someone could tell me the best material to use?

Im planning on building an entertainment center, noting fancy 60"x24"x40" I would like it to resemble cherry. I thought i would make the carcass out of plywood faced with oak or birch.

the face frame out of 1"x2" solid oak.I would like to use solid cherry for the face frame and ply with cherry veneer but im having trouble finding those items in my area, so im stuck with lowes or homedepot. So i guess my question is if you had to pick from materials from those two stores would u use oak, birch or something else to come close to a cherry once finished. I know noting will replace real cherry but that seems not to be an option.

thanks for your help


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If you want the look of cherry without using cherry, you basically have two choices---birch or poplar. Using oak will result in the oak being cherry colored(if stained with cherry stain), but still looking like oak.

Poplar does not come in plywood(to my knowledge) while birch does. And birch can be stained with cherry stain and look close to natural cherry.

The problem with what some folks consider cherry finish is they are referring to a very dark finish. Natural cherry is light colored and gradually darkens with age, but never gets as dark as what many manufactureres advertise as a cherrl finish. In fact, many times the wood in such furniture is actually birch.

Have you tried a real lumberyard for the veneered ply? Of course ply veneered with real cherry will easily be more than $100 a sheet.

So, if you use birch ply, be sure to use birch for the face frame---so the ply and face frame material take the stain more closely.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 3:33PM
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thank you for your reply handyman.

have u or anyone else looking at this posting finised birch to come close to the look of cherry and if so what process did you do (grain filler, stain, poly, shellac ect.)

thanks again

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 3:54PM
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Birch needs no grain filling.

The first thing I would try is staining a piece of scrap with cherry oil based stain---the easiest for you to get(HD or Lowe's). Sand with no more than 150 grit paper(on a random orbit sander---a power hand sander). Apply the stain with a lint free rag---that allows you to control the color better.

If you like that result, apply a coat of water based polyurethane---that does not change the color. If that looks too bland, apply a coat of oil based poly(lightly sand the dried water based)---that tints the color an amber tone.

If neither of those give you the color you want, then you have two choices---experiment by mixing stain colors until tyou get the desired color---or find a cabinet maker/experienced woodworker/finisher who can come up with what you want.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 6:36PM
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If your area has a large enough population for a Lowe's and HD, there is going to be a better place for you to get wood.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 7:08PM
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i will do some more searching to see what i can find in cherry in my area. price is also an issue, most if not all my friends would not know true cherry if they saw it, they will just look for that cherry color. i have good woodworking skills and have drawn my plans all out, its just i have never really made a piece of furniture before and i really would like it turn out nice (who wouldn't lol.)

thanks again
any other comments welcome, i will check this often

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 8:02PM
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If you have heavy equipment, plywood should not be in your list. A neighbor tried this before to cut down on cost and you know what happened? His TV, sound system and other stuff atop it crashed on the floor in a week's time. Very bad move.

Here is a link that might be useful: Remodeling Orlando

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 12:03AM
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Stick to your plan. Plywood with a hardwood face frame is the way to go. Use dado joints to make the shelves housed into the sides. When you find your cherry ply it will be good quality... If you go with birch ply get American or European produced, stay away from the Chinese plywood.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:33AM
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I have had good luck using dyes to make the color I wanted in birch. You have to seach around a lot in the poplar to avoid really green colored areas. A mixture of reddish brown and dark walnut dye got me what I wanted. (See handymac's description on cherry color). By the time you get the TransTint dyes ($35 for two), you may be able to go real cherry for the same cost. I would not try to stain real cherry if you are not experienced. Stain birch or go with the light reddish color of natural cherry and let it darken over time.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 1:33PM
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Run the shelf sizes, spans, and loads through the sagulator.
At the very least you are going to need from edging on hte shelf to reduce sag, and either edging or a dado in the back to provide support there.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 4:06PM
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I'm in CT, the HD's around here have both birch and poplar plywood.

While poplar lumber does have the greenish tones to it, I've not seen the green in the veneers used in the poplar plywood.

But as others have mentioned, birch is pretty easy to work with.

Dadoed carcass construction, with glue and screws, is very very strong. Add the face frame and your shelves will be quite stiff, too.

I recommend not using oak. Oak will pretty much always look like oak, even when using a pore filler.

All of my paint-grade cabinet construction is birch or poplar ply with poplar face frames. You'll get excellent results. I have access, so I use species ply and lumber for stain grade. Your success will be based upon your finishing skills.

If you go with poplar face frames, just pick through the lumber rack to get non-green boards.

When staining birch, it might be best to condition the wood prior to staining, and then work your way towards the color that you want. That chinese ply that aidan mentioned, it can be very splintery. In my opinion poplar takes stain better than birch.

Stevega mentioned dyes. That can be a good approach too.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 12:48PM
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thanks for all your help guys

one last question.

i found birch for the face frame and nice birch ply (not Chinese)

but all the nice trim i wanted to put on this thing comes in oak or pine. havent seen any in birch.

so question is does pine take stain in close to the same manner as birch ?

i dont really want to make my own trim out of birch.

the wife, really wants a dark cherry look, but real cherry wood is not an option (to expensive)


    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 2:54PM
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"the wife, really wants a dark cherry look, but real cherry wood is not an option (to expensive) "

Have you looked at any hardwood dealers?

While cherry can be expensive Steve Wall lumber sells 'UPS Packs' that are at max weight for UPS delivery in selects (First and second on the good face).

The hardwoods at home depot are very overpriced.
You are paying for them being reduced to standard dimensions.

Hardwoods are normally sold by the board foot in random lengths and widths.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 3:14PM
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You won't find pre-milled birch trim in box stores. Most box store offerings are poplar, pine, oak, or MDF. Or foam.

And with stain-grade you know to stay away from finger-jointed.

Pine would be fine. It can take stain differently depending on wood grain, but conditioning it prior to staining can help.

And do be careful sanding the ply. Since it's stain grade you don't want to sand through your thin veneer and expose the inner plies.

I'll certainly defer to others when it comes to staining advice. I do some, but it's certainly not an area of expertise for me.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 3:42PM
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the lumber i found is not from one of the home stores, although good lumber is getting hard to find were i live in mich. no one wants to stock quality lumber here, housing market is so bad, there isnt much call for it, although they say they can order it.

anyway im sure sure the pine trim will be fine as long as i practice finishing. with a few scraps.

if there is anyone out there who knows of a good cabinet grade lumber supplier in s.e. mich. let me know

thanks again

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:36PM
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