My first, but not last, BONSAI STAND build.

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#1
I’ve wanted to build a stand for sometime, but never made the time do so. Last week I set aside a small piece of mahogany I had kicking around my studio that was partially twisted. I slowly chipped away at the build each day. My material was at a minimum so I went with a minimal concept. The top is held to the base by 4 dowels making the top to appear like it is floating just above a very light base. The underside of the top and topside of the base were painted black to really sell the shadow line between the two. I was fighting the twist and grain the entire build. I’m happy with it and can’t wait to execute more ideas that I’ve got! Now if I can just finish up some show quality trees. 🤔 C95AF444-B801-483F-8460-56CE3798F3EB.jpeg 580433F4-C4C5-4C8B-85BC-068B1C267FEA.jpeg 09FB7096-66DA-45F0-92C3-5FBD1DFB2D75.jpeg 9FA25C22-43B3-43DA-B193-196B01C58583.jpeg
 

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Location
Albuquerque, NM
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#3
Nice job, that’s a pretty cool stand. I bet that design would look good with a dark stain too.
Thanks Brian. I used a clear coat so the color is entirely from the wood itself. Walnut is my absolute favorite wood to work with and is a beautiful dark color. I plan on making a walnut base next.

On a second note. I’m a full time designer and build lots of lifestyle accessories with wood, like furniture lighting, jewelry and other art installations. My design methods almost always include using paint or some other color to accent the wood being used. I’ve had an idea for a while to have an accent color besides black, to be painted on a few key edges of a stand. Could you see something like that be used or of benefit for certain bonsai display? Like maybe your most recent Satsuki “kinsai” exposed root azalea? Or do you think it would take away from the composition?

Hers a chobudai I made for a client last year and I painted the underside in a Torii gate red, with the elevation matching a Torii gate. I always thought this same design in a smaller scale would be lovely for a stand. 9C6ACD5F-86F9-4461-BAC8-C9CF1D8ADAE0.jpeg BB989E24-7207-4A35-968E-2DE7D6FCD655.jpeg 488263B7-7D5B-4339-BE45-D155B525D232.jpeg
 
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Western West Virginia AHS heat zone 6
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6ab
#6
Mahogany is my favourite wood to work with.
Red oak accents it very well. I too choose the wood for the colour of the project stock
using clear coat. Stain I rarely use, but have used a sort of metallic mahogany coloured paint
to touch up on odd occasions. What is the whitish deposits within the grain of some mahogany?
I use African Mahogany, and once used a needle to dig it out. Very tedious...
 
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Albuquerque, NM
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#7
Mahogany is my favourite wood to work with.
Red oak accents it very well. I too choose the wood for the colour of the project stock
using clear coat. Stain I rarely use, but have used a sort of metallic mahogany coloured paint
to touch up on odd occasions. What is the whitish deposits within the grain of some mahogany?
I use African Mahogany, and once used a needle to dig it out. Very tedious...
It sure is beautiful when finished, especially when you can find a piece with nice curls and iridescents. But I can’t say I know what the white stuff is, but I know what your talking about. And honestly, that open grain is why I don’t use it often. Along with oak and others that have such deep grain pours.
 
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#12
It sure is beautiful when finished, especially when you can find a piece with nice curls and iridescents.
You mean like this?
DSC01049.JPG DSC01046.JPG DSC01050.JPG DSC01041.JPG DSC01048.JPG
I snapped these pictures the day we turned the keys over to the new owner :(
This was the living room where I grew up. My Dad got this wood from our church when it was forced to remodel
by the fire marshal. African Tiger Eye mahogany, logs floated down the Ohio River to Huntington, my hometown.
Not sure which mill sawed it, but the face boards are ~22" wide, 25" over the book shelf, after Dad evened them up.
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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#15
African Tiger Eye mahogany, logs floated down the Ohio River to Huntington, my hometown.
Beautiful wood, but I am not aware of anything called "African Tiger Eye Mahagony". I might have considered asking the new owners if they wanted the wood. I would have nightmares thinking about them demoing it out to rehab the house. It is a rare board that is 25" wide. I'm lucky if I can find them 20" - and I have to glue them up for something wide like a chair seat.

True mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) is a tropical hardwood, growing primarily on few scattered islands in the Caribbean. Cuba used to be the biggest producer, but none has been exported from that island since Castro took over in 1950's. Though it grows in southern Florida, that is the extreme north end of its range, and the trees do not grow large - only 30 to 40 feet. Plus, in Florida it is protected as an endangered species. I have tried to get hold of some trees to plant in my landscaping - and can't even accomplish that!

The closest you can get to true mahogany in the hardwood market today is big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), closely related to true mahogany, but growing from south Mexico through Brazil.

There is another close cousin (Swietenia humilis) that is a contorted dwarf tree that doesn't grow large enough for commercial harvest.

So that's it for mahogany. Now just because the only mahogany in the world grows in tropical Central and South America (and the Caribbean) hasn't stopped other countries from trying to market their hardwood as "mahogany". Africa has a closely related genus (Khaya) that, though it is not as dark or red as true mahogany, is sold as "African mahogany". Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum), a beautiful wood out of Africa, is often marketed as "African mahogany" (which I think doesn't do sapele justice).

(Photo of a big sapele board on my garage floor - had to cut it in half to get it into my SUV. Look at that grain!)
before.jpg

There are even a number of hardwoods out of the Phillipines that are loosely marketed as "Phillipine Mahogany" though in this case they aren't even related to true mahogany.

Mahogany is probably the most mis-labelled wood in the world. In fact, any time I see anything that says it is made out of mahogany, I am 99% certain that it isn't - unless I know that it is coming directly from a reputable source of handmade furniture or pre-dates the 1950's (and also comes directly from a reputable source). It just isn't a very common wood - and it is quite expensive. If you think you are buying mahogany, and it doesn't cost as much as ebony... there's a reason why :)
 
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Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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#16
I’ve wanted to build a stand for sometime, but never made the time do so.
Really like the clean lines and the floating top! As you start to build more stands, you will want to start working with framed panels for the top, instead of a board. I have no doubt you can do it - given your wood skillz! The framed panel will work much better on larger stands (in terms of dimensional stability) and will allow you to have a clean routed edge if you want to embellish the edge.

It would be a rare stand that I think would work with bright paint. First, because you want the stand to be complementary to your bonsai tree / pot, and painting will often create too strong of an impact. Secondly, I have yet to find a paint in the world that is as beautiful as a good hardwood. And third... the very essence of bonsai is nature. The entire artform is supposed to feel organic. I know there are "bonsai arteests" out there who have done crazy stuff like stainless steel stands, etc, but they don't work for me :)
 
Messages
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Location
Albuquerque, NM
USDA Zone
7
#17
Beautiful wood, but I am not aware of anything called "African Tiger Eye Mahagony". I might have considered asking the new owners if they wanted the wood. I would have nightmares thinking about them demoing it out to rehab the house. It is a rare board that is 25" wide. I'm lucky if I can find them 20" - and I have to glue them up for something wide like a chair seat.

True mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) is a tropical hardwood, growing primarily on few scattered islands in the Caribbean. Cuba used to be the biggest producer, but none has been exported from that island since Castro took over in 1950's. Though it grows in southern Florida, that is the extreme north end of its range, and the trees do not grow large - only 30 to 40 feet. Plus, in Florida it is protected as an endangered species.

The closest you can get to true mahogany in the hardwood market today is big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), closely related to true mahogany, but growing from south Mexico through Brazil.

There is another close cousin (Swietenia humilis) that is a contorted dwarf tree that doesn't grow large enough for commercial harvest.

So that's it for mahogany. Now just because the only mahogany in the world grows in tropical Central and South America (and the Caribbean) hasn't stopped other countries from trying to market their hardwood as "mahogany". Africa has a closely related genus (Khaya) that, though it is not as dark or red as true mahogany, is sold as "African mahogany". Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum), a beautiful wood out of Africa, is often marketed as "African mahogany" (which I think doesn't do sapele justice).

(Photo of a big sapele board on my garage floor - had to cut it in half to get it into my SUV. Look at that grain!)
View attachment 240709

There are even a number of hardwoods out of the Phillipines that are loosely marketed as "Phillipine Mahogany" though in this case they aren't even related to true mahogany.

Mahogany is probably the most mis-labelled wood in the world. In fact, any time I see anything that says it is made out of mahogany, I am 99% certain that it isn't - unless I know that it is coming directly from a reputable source of handmade furniture or pre-dates the 1950's (and also comes directly from a reputable source). It just isn't a very common wood - and it is quite expensive.
That’s pretty darn interesting. Can’t remember where I sourced the piece I had. It was the remains of a much larger piece from a light fixture I built a few years back. I bought it as “African Mahogany” though. Soooo... Maybe I can take the tiny piece I have left back and exchange it due to misrepresentation!! 😂😂
 
Messages
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843
Location
Albuquerque, NM
USDA Zone
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#18
Really like the clean lines and the floating top! As you start to build more stands, you will want to start working with framed panels for the top, instead of a board. I have no doubt you can do it - given your wood skillz! The framed panel will work much better on larger stands (in terms of dimensional stability) and will allow you to have a clean routed edge if you want to embellish the edge.

It would be a rare stand that I think would work with bright paint. First, because you want the stand to be complementary to your bonsai tree / pot, and painting will often create too strong of an impact. Secondly, I have yet to find a paint in the world that is as beautiful as a good hardwood. And third... the very essence of bonsai is nature. The entire artform is supposed to feel organic. I know there are "bonsai arteests" out there who have done crazy stuff like stainless steel stands, etc, but they don't work for me :)
I totally wanted to run a band around the top, but I had such a small piece to start with that I didn’t have enough! I suppose I could have used another piece of hardwood. 🤔. The top is actually a glue up of the pieces.

In regards to the accent colors, it would have to be made custom for the tree to be displayed and would not work for any nice specimen. In my wood jewelry making I often burn the wood in a Shou Sugi ban style to add texture and color to the piece and I think that would be a fun way to accent a stand as well! If you have a sec, check my website and you’ll see my general aesthetic.

Since I don’t have any trees, yet, that are show quality I would need someone to want to take a chance on an alternative display and have me make them something. So maybe some day! But in the mean time, I’m going to make more, just because.
 

Bonsai Nut

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#19
If you could figure out how to do it without it looking like kitschy "chainsaw bear" country furniture, I'll bet a live-edge top could look cool. You'd have to figure out the legs so that they were informal enough to work with the top, without making the piece look like something out of a Flintstones set :)

As soon as you mentioned wood-burning I immediately had an image in my mind of a deeply figured wood top with a wood-burned edge for texture. If you had a rugged tree with a pot with a rough glaze... it could look awesome!
 

Bonsai Nut

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#20
Check out these plans from Fine Woodworking from 20 years ago (!) I've been holding on to them as the foundation for a bonsai stand I've been thinking about making. Your floating top reminded me of this design. I thought it was interesting how they used walnut for the top and curly maple for the legs, and how the sweep of the legs is met by the bevel of the top board. It might give you some ideas! If you want the plans, shoot me a PM and I'll email them to you.

table-design.jpg
 
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