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A good source of premium timber is to buy scaffold boards. They are stress graded and show few knots, which makes finishing simpler too.I made a large cottage kitchen table for someone 20 odd years ago using new scaffold boards.For the legs I used off the shelf newel posts with one square end sawn off. The finish was outstanding, and the timber matured to a rich colour. Scaffold boards at approximately 9x2, it's a bit quicker than using 4x2 sticks.
Perhaps using a old VHS case would provide a more rugged construction.