As an addition to my current business I will be producing a new design of a wooden laundry drying rack. Estimated at 1000 per year to begin with. I will outsource the component fabrication and just assemble and package here - and market, the toughest job.
I need suggestions on the species of wood to use.
We HOPE to use a raw unfinished hard wood. Here are the parameters the wood must meet (in it's raw but sanded condition):
1) must not bleed color onto damp fabric hung on the rack.
2) must easily sand smooth enough to not snag on silky undies or pantyhose, and not become rough from being dampened.
3) must not warp excessively as it absorbs and releases moisture from the damp fabrics
4) needs to be a fairly stiff and strong wood
5) needs to be a wood that is commercially converted into long dowels. This is tougher than it sounds as the dowel manufacturers all seem to cover the same half dozen or so species. But some will do other woods if the stock is readily available.
I have done some research and have a few species possibilities. But I would like to hear your unbiased thoughts first. I'll share what I found and the end of the thread.
I would say hard maple. But I think you will find that without sealing the wood and putting it into a high humidity environment you are going to be asking for problems. Plus you are putting damp articles of clothing on it. Any wood will have its grain raised by doing this which may lead to snagging of fine garments. Good luck with your quest.
I do beliee that hard maple will become rough with the repeated wetting. You should consider basswood or aspen. Both are white and will leave no residue; both will not develop extreme roughness with wetting, both are weak, so the diameter will have to be increased a bit, but doubling the diameter means 4x strength or more; both will have little warp if properly chosen wood
Bamboo can be a good choice for products that are not affected excessively by wetting and drying. Many bamboo species move more than oak. A cloth drying rack seems subject to wetting, so I am concerned that this is not a good use for bamboo.
Not to argue with the wood doctor, but bamboo in it's lumber form is made up of a number of strips laminated together.
Bamboo is used extensively for cutting boards, and in baths for benches.
I had the opportunity to unscientifically test the waterproof qualities of bamboo lumber that was being considered for outdoor stair treads. Unfinished, I immersed it for several days. There were no delaminating issues. Three years hence the stairs in New England are holding up beautifully.
You may want to contact Chris at Northwest Bamboo. They sell bamboo lumber and he's been very helpful in answering my questions.
I have indeed done a lot of research into bamboo and had read studies done on the properties. Some species of bamboo (there are 1000s) behave pretty good, while others are terrible when compared to wood. Indeed, bamboo flooring and panels (not called plywood as bamboo is a grass and not wood, but one supplier calls them plyboo) are good some of the time too, but I have seen some terrible products.
You are indeed correct that bamboo is ripped into narrow strips and then glued together to make a flat product. Obviously, the type of adhesive is important if you want water resistance. In short, we do need to be careful that we say that all bamboo is equal...it is like saying all plywood is equal.
It's been awhile since I started this thread. I wanted to thank everybody for your knowledge and let you know the final results.
We did finally go into production on the clothes drying racks. They are currently being sold through BestDryingRack.com (see the related link and picture)
We did end up using Hard White Maple. It looked nicer than birch, was stronger, and could be produced with a very fine smooth surface. We also use a soy-based wood sealer to prevent any raised grain issues.
I did find all US suppliers for the wood and steel, which was an adventure all on it's own. But definitely worth it. We have to help the small US manufacturers survive this downturn.
Maple was tough to find vendors for. The hanger dowels are 7/16" diameter and are actually made side-by-side 4 at a time on a molder. Evidently small diameter doweling machines are rare in the USA.
The laundry drying rack has been well liked by my customers. I really appreciate the knowledge and ideas you all shared on list and off. Thanks!
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