I am trying to start on my first real woodworking project and could use some advice. I have a large window (10 ft wide) in my family room and wanted to build a bench to place in fron of it that could also be used to store books and movies inside. I've done lots of reading, and feel that I'm ready to take a try at this. I'm choosing this project first, because the inevitable flaws in my work won't matter too much.
What I've read about wood selection indicated I will probably want a softer hardwood so that things in peoples pockets wont damage the wood when they sit on it, but so it isn't such dense material that I will struggle to work with it. I went to a lumberyard just to look around and had a few concerns. Due to the length of the bench, I think it will be important to get some high quality stock to prevent warping over such a long piece.
My question is as follows: The only boards with close to a 90 deg. end grain pattern had big sections of the heartwood (?). I thought I read this was a pretty weak part of the board. If the boards were cut avoiding the heartwood, it seems that they had quite a curved endgrain (riftsawn appearance?). Does it sound like the material they have should work for me if I just ask for some help? I wasn't buying and they were busy so I hesitated to ask the sales associate. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Well, you are building a bench for in front of a window. This is not a super complicated project but it's nice to know you have put some thought into what wood to use. If the bench is to be 10 feet long it will need a least a couple of supporting feet along the middle sections. In terms of a wood, I think many of the popular hardwoods will be fine, oak, maple, beech etc. As far as picking heartwood from sapwood, for a project like this, I wouldn't be too concerned, either will be fine. It's often nice to go with edge-grain wood although it doesn't always have the nicest grain patterns, sometimes flat-sawn for a top looks nicer depending on the wood.
You might even consider a couple of short benches rather than one long one, that way you have more options in how they are placed and where they are used.
Benches are a great project ... would like to see some pics when done