My wife has an old farm sink, a massive thing, that she wants to use as a planter for herbs. I've built a stand for it.
The billet I used is old, I'm pretty sure. It's almost knot-free, and to me very uniform, through and through.
If it rots, I'll hire someone to haul away the ruins and give paulownia a try.
The leather gloves worked pretty well during coarse work. O'Keefes Working Hands helps some, too.
By the way, I don't want to derogate your Western woods. I just had unrealistic expectations of the redwood.