22 July 2011

Guest post by Bob Borson: Three favorite wood species

I'm having a tremendous time compiling my "threesome" series for Gold Notes' third anniversary this month. I hope you are, too! I've asked many of my industry friends to contribute their thoughts and am positively thrilled that so many have said yes.

This latest one is by the delightful Bob Borson, architect, blogger and all-around raconteur. Bob's Life of an Architect blog is as engaging as it is brilliant. Here he shares his three favorite wood types. Two of them happen to be mine, as well!


When I was asked to contribute to Jamie’s series on “Three Favorite …” I said yes immediately, even though I knew that I would have a hard time coming up with my three favorite anything. I fall squarely into the camp that thinks the better the problem, the better the solution. Having carte blanche to pick whatever I want to focus on is just about the hardest thing someone could ask from me... Three Favorite Buildings? Three Favorite Architects? Three Favorite Cities?

Ughhhh … it’s too hard for me to select an answer to any of these questions. As a result, this post has sat empty for the last two weeks as I beat myself up trying to respond to my friend’s request. Then it hit me – literally. Arriving in the mail this last Friday were samples I had ordered from one of my wood vendors of three different wood species. Did someone say three?

In no particular order of preference:

Walnut is, for some reason unknown to me, the one species of wood that is associated with modern style architecture and design. The difference between the lighter brown summer growth and the much darker bands of winter growth give this wood an extremely pleasing striation. The walnut tree can reach up to 130 feet tall, which provides for some large veneers – making walnut an excellent choice for paneling and cabinetry.

White Oak is native in many parts of the United States, one of them being East Texas. Since my architectural practice is based out of Dallas, this is a very cost effective and readily available wood species. Of the three listed here, I probably use rift cut white oak the most often because it fits into the soft modern aesthetic that people hire us to produce. Warm in tone with distinct bands of summer and winter growth – just enough variation to be interesting but not so much as to be overwhelming visually in any space.

Pecan is a species of hickory and is also readily available in the United States. I like to use pecan for special custom cabinetry despite the fact that it’s more commonly used for flooring. Pecan wood has a very active grain and as a result is visually active. Part of the reason I really enjoy using pecan is the incredibly warm brown tones that you can get from it and since it isn’t a wood that you typically run across, people respond to the way it looks as if they are seeing it for the first time in their lives … which they probably are.


  1. Great intro Jamie and such a fun post from one my all time favorite bloggers... and on something I really enjoy... wood. cheers and thanks for sharing both.

  2. Thanks, JB! Bob is great, isn't he? Care to write a guest post yourself some time? I enjoy your writings, as well.


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