what are your favorite woods?

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 12-27-2011 09:04 PM 2387 views 0 times favorited 77 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3101 days

12-27-2011 09:04 PM

If someone asks me what my favorite wood is, I would say it depending on the project. Still, the truth is that I like some woods more than others. So here I will identify my top 5 in 3 categories and invite others to respond.

Domestic (common) hardwoods – Mahogany, maple and cherry

Reasonably priced exotics – Bubinga

Expensive – Brazilian Tulipwood (a.k.a. Pau Rosa).

Note that I am not specifying finer breakdowns beyond the general name. For example, I am not saying waterfall bubinga or quilted maple. My definition of “reasonably priced” is less than $25/bf.

How about you?

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

77 replies so far

View Woodwrecker's profile


4154 posts in 3602 days

#1 posted 12-27-2011 09:13 PM

“Little Birdie Wood” cheap,cheap,cheap….

I do have a secret love affair with Black Walnut though.

(I make waaay too many mistakes to use expensive material…lol)

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2840 days

#2 posted 12-27-2011 09:19 PM

QSWO with Walnut inlays.
My definition of affordable hardwood is 75 cents per board foot. I buy my lumber rough, and I don’t think I could ever go back to S4S prices.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3095 days

#3 posted 12-27-2011 09:21 PM

For me, it’s whatever I’m working with at the time.

A few years ago, a customer asked for a houseful of ultra contemporary cabinets in Beech with a clear finish. I hadn’t used Beech before, and hadn’t really done much in the contemporary style, but as I built them, they became the prettiest cabinets I had ever made.

Right now, I’m making a shop cart for my new mortiser. I’m using some redwood that I bought in ‘80 or ‘81 for a deck. These boards were reused for an open storage shed in the mid-90’s when I rebuilt the deck. I replaced the shed earlier this year and the redwood is now being milled for my mortiser cart. It’s dead straight, and has aged to a dark red color. It will get a clear finish and I think that it will look fabulous. A couple of the neighbors have said that my shop cabinets and carts look nicer than their living room furniture. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2720 days

#4 posted 12-27-2011 09:24 PM

Cocobolo’s hard to beat for me.
For domestics, I like plain old walnut.
Now you’ve got me thinking about tulipwood. The colors are fantastic.
I can see why you like bubinga if you like tulip; you must like color.
I had some highly figured eucalyptus that I wouldn’t mind having more of.
And Sawkerf, redwood in my area is seriously like $15/bf. The only piece I own is one that Dan from the handplane thread gave me.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3078 days

#5 posted 12-27-2011 09:32 PM


My absolute hands down all time favorite is cherry. Any way you look at it, it has something of beauty to show you. It is a challenge, but rewards you. I like maple walnut, oaks, and sycamore (quartered), but I LOVE cherry.

My favorite exotics are sapele and bloodwood. My idea of ‘reasonable’ price is <$7.00/bd.ft. I suffer, I fear, a bit more pecuniary embarrasment than do you. If I have to, I’ll use poplar actually a nice wood) or pine (another nice one) when I run out of money for better woods.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4950 posts in 3987 days

#6 posted 12-27-2011 10:09 PM

Walnut for me yesiree (because I have a bunch).


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3101 days

#7 posted 12-27-2011 10:12 PM

A few reactions – -

I also like cocobolo and have worked with it quite a bit. In my opinion, the beauty of cocobolo can vary a lot, even within a single piece of wood. Some portions can be amazingly beautiful and others quite dull. By contrast, the beauty of bubinga is quite consistent. I think of bocote as a slightly better cocobolo. It’s also a little more expensive.

I also like cherry, but it bothers me that it darkens so much over time. It also bothers me that it burns so easily.

I also like walnut, but only if the piece has no sapwood. Walnut often has a lot of sapwood.

I’ve used quite a bit of bloodwood recently and like it very much. It is very good at retaining its color for the long term. So many exotics (purpleheart, padouk and others) loose their color over time). When I compare bloodwood and bubinga, I think of bloodwood as being like bubinga (color wise) but without the exciting grain.

About “reasonably priced: – In that category I am only talking about the exotics that can vary from $10 to over $100 dollars. Within the exotics, I consider $25/bf to be the break point between reasonably priced and high priced. As an FYI – I own some (no much) pink ivory, ebony (several variations) and ambroyna burl that costs between $60 and $80 per board foot. When wood cost this much you save it for the very special project and, in reality, that very special project never comes along. I’ve owned a piece of pink ivory for over 5 years and have not used any of it yet.

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

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3095 days

#8 posted 12-27-2011 10:17 PM

Bertha -
Redwood is pretty common around here – although really good stuff can be hard to find. When I bought it in the early ‘80s, 2×6, Conheart S4S, cost ~69 – 70 cents /linear foot. Much higher these days, of course. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2625 days

#9 posted 12-27-2011 10:31 PM

Rich, it is like picking your favorite child! I cant do it…but I will say I really am not that fond of the neighbor kid, aka red oak. I will use it, but I like so many others more.

Exotics…I like paduak, zebrawood, and sapele. But the budget generally only stretches for those to be used as accents.

If push came to shove, and I only had one for eternity, it would probably be figured walnut.

View jcees's profile


1060 posts in 3826 days

#10 posted 12-27-2011 10:39 PM

For working qualities, I like black walnut and mahogany. After that, they’re all just colors on a palette. Their working qualities are what they are and I just have to deal with it the best way possible. As to what I enjoy looking at… hmmm…. That’s a tough one.

It’s probably easier for me to answer which one I DON’T like—flat sawn red oak. Because it’s just so dang EVERYWHERE!


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2604 days

#11 posted 12-27-2011 10:42 PM

Black walnut, curly maple, plain maple, purpleheart.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2720 days

#12 posted 12-27-2011 10:54 PM

^I had to google that:

Is that Cr1 with the camelback, lol?

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Alan S's profile

Alan S

181 posts in 3344 days

#13 posted 12-27-2011 11:29 PM

Whoever said Bloodwood, I’ll agree that I like the look of it finished, but it is a PAIN to work with! I started using it on my scroll saw and the stuff constantly burns for me. I recently turned a few projects with it, and the stuff is so splintery! If I try to brush off the shavings on my shirt, I am sure to get a splinter or two in my skin. Ugh!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3101 days

#14 posted 12-27-2011 11:41 PM

Alan – I have never scrolled or turned with Bloodwood so I cannot relate to that. I have used it extensively with a table saw.

If you look at my recent projects you will see a series of projects I did for our church with oak as the primary wood and bloodwood as an accent. I never encountered a splintering problem and the burning was very slight and easily sanded out.

I chose bloodwood because I did not want any distracting grain within the accent pieces and it has a reputation for retaining its color for the long term.

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

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3337 days

#15 posted 12-27-2011 11:43 PM

Claro Walnut, board and rootball; Western Maple, figured & birdseye; Red Gum Eucalyptus, basket weave; Mesquite Burl; Alligator Juniper, burl; & Pine, when Grandson asks me to help him make his Pine Wood Derby race car!

-- Rustfever, Central California

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