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Thread: Why is live edge magnolia so hard to find and is it hard to work with?

  1. #1

    Why is live edge magnolia so hard to find and is it hard to work with?

    Hello

    My best friends were married at the Magnolia plantation outside Charleston south Carolina last summer. They just bought a house and my wife asked since i started making live edge dinner/Coffee tables for a hobby in the past 2 years could i make a magnolia table for them that would be unique and last a long time. I luckily found some 10' long over 25" wide bookend pieces at a friends lumber mill that is 2" thick plus. so I am gonna make a dinner table and coffee table for them. My question is when i look online there are tons of walnut and maple tables available but not much except some shelving pieces available in magnolia. I know it is a hardwood but is there a reason not to work with it or is it just hard to get pieces that are straight and of that length/width and thickness

    thank you for any insight


    Chris

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    4,268
    Do you know the species you have, Southern Magnolia (magnolia grandiflora) or one of the others (magnolia virginiana, magnolia acuminata)?

    I have a big piece of old Southern Magnolia and I've turned some of it on the lathe. It was quite easy to work, not much different than walnut or cherry, and finished well. The hardness of the Southern Magnolia is about the same as walnut or cherry so perhaps it will hold up as well. I understand the other species are a little softer.

    Mine came from an ~300 year old tree downed in Louisiana during hurricane Katrina.

    Southern Magnolia, from the Wood Database:
    Workability: Generally easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.
    Pricing/Availability: Readily available within its natural range, though difficult to find elsewhere. Prices should be low for a domestic hardwood.

    Maybe it is used more often in the deep south.

    JKJ


    Quote Originally Posted by chris trainum View Post
    My best friends were married at the Magnolia plantation outside Charleston south Carolina last summer. They just bought a house and my wife asked since i started making live edge dinner/Coffee tables for a hobby in the past 2 years could i make a magnolia table for them that would be unique and last a long time. I luckily found some 10' long over 25" wide bookend pieces at a friends lumber mill that is 2" thick plus. so I am gonna make a dinner table and coffee table for them. My question is when i look online there are tons of walnut and maple tables available but not much except some shelving pieces available in magnolia. I know it is a hardwood but is there a reason not to work with it or is it just hard to get pieces that are straight and of that length/width and thickness

  3. #3
    It is southern magnolia. When i search online for other tables and even coffee tables there is not much. I just wanted to make sure i wsnt using a wood that is very hard to work with. The tables are coming along fine. No cuping or warping so fingers crossed. Iwill post finished product.


    Thanks for your help and info
    Chris

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Deep South
    Posts
    3,127
    Southern Magnolia is native to where I live and I have found them on our timber land from time to time. The best explanation I can think of for why it isn't more popular is that it does not grow in stands like oak or pine trees. You just see a lone one every now and then. They are probably about as rare as walnut these days but not as attractive and therefore, desirable.

  5. #5
    It's a fairly common tree where I'm from, but its growth habit doesn't produce a lot of good clear lumber. Also the lumber is plain and generally pretty unattractive except for mineral stained pieces.

    There's also sweetbay magnolias which are a more common tree with a better growth habit, but its lumber is more like poplar than cherry in terms of weight and hardness.

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