For now we settled on cypress. We have a good source of that wood and its select quality. For immediate sales at bee schools, we'll have cypress on hand. I personally like the pine with some knots, but given the price of the boxes, I don't feel that we should use anything less that select wood. Some folks have suggested cherry for signs, but I don't know how fast the bits would dull. I really like the looks of red cedar for signs, but don't know if that would be popular with other folks. I have some old supers made of oak, they are very heavy supers without any honey!!!
That being said, we will custom make boxes in any type of wood folks would request as long as we can get it. You are correct in that we are looking for a nich market. There are plenty of folks who make the regular equipment. We cannot compete with that as far as through put and bulk buys, nor do we want to. However, right now we are the only folks doing custom boxes so my thought is that we need to build our market before the next folks come in with the same idea and ability ; ).