Favorite woods

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Forum topic by Wiley posted 06-25-2010 04:01 PM 1552 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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71 posts in 3232 days

06-25-2010 04:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I won a car in a sweepstakes, and ended up selling it for more than I thought I would. I get the check today, and plan on celebrating with a lumber shopping spree. I mostly make small decorative boxes with inlays, so a board foot or two goes a very long way, and I figured I’d get smallish amounts of a bunch of different types of wood. So far my shopping list includes bubinga, wenge, purpleheart, walnut, padauk, mahogany, and birdseye maple. But the lumber yard is also full of different domestic species I’m not very familiar with. I’ve already got quite a bit of birch, cherry, and oak, but what other woods would you add to the list if you were going on a spree? I’m looking for woods that will look distinctive either as the body of a box or as strips of inlay, so grain pattern and color are both significant. Also, what woods are completely annoying to work with and best avoided so I don’t cause myself too many headaches?

-- "When you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think straight" - Inherit the Wind

27 replies so far

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3187 days

#1 posted 06-25-2010 04:09 PM

Redwood is amazing if you can ever get your hands on it.
Sycamore is pretty fun and a nice alternative to maple.
I would be on the hunt for walnut with character too. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3127 days

#2 posted 06-25-2010 05:26 PM

I agree with Lis, claro walnut would be one of my first choices.

Lacewood can look amazing used sparingly on boxes, as is zebrano, quilted maple, and the ones I have used for inlay are holly, cherry, ipe, maple, bubinga, yellowheart, the list goes on and on…

I really enjoy shopping for lumber…

I’m happy for your good fortune!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View DanCo's profile


66 posts in 3099 days

#3 posted 06-25-2010 06:04 PM

All the woods mentioned are nice. Not sure of availability in your area but I would mention Elm (often under appreciated), Texas Ebony, Mesquite, Marble wood, tulip wood, amboyna, and look for anything burl. Congrats on the money.

-- Daniel

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 3113 days

#4 posted 06-25-2010 06:31 PM

I agree with everything stated above. Spalted sycamore is great and since the money is there I would be in the market for some pink ivory, gaboon, amboyna burl, snakewood, brazilian rosewood. I could keep going but I’ll stop and say get one of everything, oh and flame box elder cuz Its awesome. I’m going to do some flame box elder bowls to use at a 4th of july party. Nice flames and explosive reds. YEAH

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3819 days

#5 posted 06-25-2010 06:36 PM

Zebra wood

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View woodprof's profile


44 posts in 3391 days

#6 posted 06-25-2010 06:41 PM

Since you have plenty of $$ to work with, and you only need small quantities, tulipwood is gorgeous. Unbelievable color and grain in the heartwood! Turns nicely too.

View woodsmith1's profile


58 posts in 3156 days

#7 posted 06-26-2010 03:32 PM

English oak is one of my favorites! Also spalted maple.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3275 days

#8 posted 06-26-2010 03:59 PM

For an incredibly interesting grain, try Chechen. Most people don’t know much about it. I’m surprised that others haven’t mentioned cocobolo, bocote or bloodwood – some of my favorites.

Regarding tulipwood – There are 2 woods called tulipwood. The north american version is a type of poplar and it is not very interesting. The south american version (a.k.a. pau rosa) is spectacular. It is a member of the rosewood family. There are many members of the rosewood family and most of them are very beautiful. I’m particularly fond of indian rosewood and honduran rosewood. Warning – the dust from rosewoods can be toxic.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View lew's profile


12428 posts in 3956 days

#9 posted 06-26-2010 04:58 PM

What woods do you like?

I see you enjoy building boxes. Woods that have unique/interesting grain patterns, in smaller areas, would enhance smaller projects.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View woodprof's profile


44 posts in 3391 days

#10 posted 06-26-2010 07:04 PM

Hi Rich,

I used to think that tulipwood referred to tulip poplar (I’ve got a huge one in my front yard), and wondered why the price was so high for such a basic and uninteresting wood, and why it was available only in relatively small sizes. Then a professional woodworking friend gave me a tulipwood cutoff for pen turning, and boy, were my eyes opened!

You’re right, tulipwood is a rosewood (dalbergia frutescens), as is cocobolo (dalbergia retusa), and anything with dalbergia as part of the scientific name.

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 3095 days

#11 posted 06-26-2010 07:29 PM

I love the look of Elm with a clear finish, that and butternut are my two favorites,

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4328 days

#12 posted 06-26-2010 08:10 PM

My favorite woods are those that I personally obtain locally and regionally.
Currently, that narrows my choice to about 60 species here in Kentucky.

-- 温故知新

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3211 days

#13 posted 06-26-2010 08:19 PM

Woods sold by the pound… :)

I’m with Rich. Love the rosewoods, especially Indian and Brazilian (Pau Ferro).


Wenge is a pain to work with due to the splinters…

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View TheWoodsman's profile


65 posts in 3097 days

#14 posted 06-26-2010 09:34 PM

S A S S A F R A S !!!

You might also head over to Paxton Lumber Co. in Denver and see what kinda goodies they have. The Paxton in Cincinnati has a wood selection room with all sorts of domestics and exotics. Last time I was in there I walked out with a bunch of figured purpleheart.

-- I'm the Woodsman . . . the four-wheelin', tree-farmin', custom-furniture-makin' descendant of Olaf "The Woodcutter" Ingjaldsson.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3275 days

#15 posted 06-26-2010 11:38 PM

I’ve always heard that it was illegal to export Brazilian Rosewood out of Brazil. I also understand that this particular rosewood is very rarely grown outside of Brazil. Therefore, it is very hard to get Brazilian rosewood. I know I have never seen any available for sale. Am I wrong (I often am)?

At least 2 people on this page have referenced Brazilian rosewood. Where are you getting it?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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