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Correct Cabinet wood?


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Hi all. I'm planning on making a display case when the weather warms and have most of the design done. One of the things I have yet to decide is what wood to use. I've started looking at different types just to see what looks attractive but have not really started looking into their properties. I know this is not a woodworkers website but my question is is there some woods that are better for use in such a project then others in the way of their properties or should I look more at how I will finish the wood for that point rather then worry about how some type of wood will interact with the objects in the case? Most of what will be in the case will be on glass shelving but the bottom shelf will be wood and of course the objects will be surrounded by wood. Thanks in advance.

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There are a number of woods which are low ph like parana pine, spruce poplar, elm , walnut and African mahogany. There really aren't any finishes that will seal the wood as your wood and glue will both off gas. The only way to get a truly archival safe case is to line the case with a neutral material, melamine board is probably the cheapest and most readily available material. Good luck with your project.

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A trusted option:


One of the museums I worked in several years (as Registrar/Cataloguer - responsible for artifact storage, climate, etc) built all of our shelving and cabinets (dozens of units ¾" ply 10' x 4' x 4') from birch plywood, specifically. We chose that wood because the grain is fairly tight and smooth, with a softness that makes it readily workable, and is stable. More expensive than pine or fir, of course... but less expensive than hardwoods.


We painted all units with, in our case, a very high quality white. The units have been in service almost 40 years without any preservation difficulties.


If the bare wood-look is preferable as a finish, then it would be better to use something like a neutral acrylic spray in any case.

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