We built a house in the Philippines. Here are some of our experiences in buying and using local lumber including building own own door casings. We bought air dried local “mahogany” – 2X6″ and 2X8″. This is quite a bit cheaper than buying pre-made casings, plus we can have thicker casings, a full two inches. At first it was a little bit of a mystery as to what this wood really was. So much wood in the Philippines is called mahogany. What we bought is cheaper than Lauan “Philippine mahogany” (Shorea Negrosensis).
It turns out that what was readily available (in 2009) was the prized central American mahogany “Swietenia macrophylla” which is widely planted in the Philippines and grows like crazy. The wood we bought is from a sixteen year old plantation on Guimaras Island. The lumber has three or four growth rings in two inches, so it’s far from the quality of old growth timber still being cut in Central and South American rain forests.
We also bought mid-price doors by Orowood of Mindanao. There is the same confusion as to what the wood really is. The rails on the doors are of “old growth” lumber — 25 to 50 growth rings per inch. It’s probably Lauann mahognany perhaps mixed with some second growth Swietenia. The 80x210x41CM doors cost P2650 each in 2009. You can see some details of how we finished the doors using stain and flat laquer HERE. We are pleased with the result and, after four years, the doors have held up well.
We used used a combination of Yale, Stanley and Schlage locksets. All of these are good quality and have given no problems. We used Creston stainless steel, ball bearing hinges. We don’t recommend them. See why HERE.
You can see in the photo below the method used to install the door casings in the rough masonry opening. 3 1/2″ nails are partially driven into the sides of the casing and then bent over. The casing is placed in the opening, leveled and secured with temporary bracing. Then the space around the casing is filled with cement mortar. Later the cement is finished to match the finish on the surrounding wall.
We treated the casings with the dark brown version of Solignum wood preservative.
Below: You can see lots of finger joints in these mid-priced doors.
The lighting in this photo shows how this door is made up of lots of finger-jointed bits of lumber. Still, it’s a pretty nice door for the money and they have held up well.
2013 Update. A reader has alerted us to a logging ban and limited availability of hardwood lumber. “The logging ban was imposed in 2011 by EO of the President and not lifted till today. FWIK plantations are not affected, but these are just covering a minority of market needs in the Philippines. Effectively all non-plantation forest logging was stopped; just the illegal logging continues (and prospers, since many forest workers lost their legal jobs and were sort of forced to resort to join the illegal logging)—and prices for hardwood went steep. I was checking several lumber merchants in Iloilo City, and none of them has any hardwood timber available.” Thanks for this update.
Some house builders try to use beams salvaged from old houses. The lumber used in even recent Philippine houses from 1950 to 1980 usually contains wonderful old growth Philippine hardwood of a quality which may never be available again.
This photo shows workers in Iloilo resawing lumber salvaged from an old Iloilo City house which was demolished. They would keep this work up all day. This method may be a way to avoid damage to expensive saws by hidden nails and other hardware. While the piece they are sawing is small, much bigger timbers can be seen in the photo.
Also see Kitchen Cabinets and Closets
Updated Mar 20, 2013