I have a job to do making a slatted cover for a boat hatch. The one I’m replacing is made of mahogany and finished with something (probably spar varnish). It is splitting in several places and has been glued and screwed (literally). Joints are coming apart and there is mold growing in several places underneath.
I suggested making a duplicate out of white oak and not finishing it. My reasoning is that the wear and tear on the hatch cover will soon abrade any finish that is applied and the wood will blacken in those spots from the tannins in the oak. So if no finish is applied the piece will be more uniform in appearance as it ages.
The customer agreed to that.
I have also considered black walnut (again unfinished).
But as usual when I’m operating in an unknown area for me I like to go to the experts.
I would appreciate your input.