What's your favorite wood to work with?

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Forum topic by WoodGoddess posted 11-29-2012 04:10 PM 1932 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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100 posts in 2267 days

11-29-2012 04:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood types wood moisture

Hello Everyone!!!

I have a question.

What’s your favorite wood to work with and why? Do you purchase it? Does it come from the backyard? Do you test it for moisture? Why or why not?

Wood Goddess

20 replies so far

View Mosquito's profile


9539 posts in 2492 days

#1 posted 11-29-2012 04:16 PM

To work with, poplar. Why? Because I enjoy hand tool work (power tool work requires a 30+ mile drive). Poplar can be worked really well with hand tools, and the different grain patterns, inclusions, etc give it a real character.

So far, though, I think my favorite finished woods are Padauk and Red Oak, though I also really like mahogany.

I purchase almost all my wood kiln dried and dimensioned. Other than a hand saw (which I don’t have a dedicated rip saw yet) I have no good means to dimension rough lumber on my own yet. I don’t check moisture levels because I don’t have a moisture meter.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2468 days

#2 posted 11-29-2012 04:25 PM

i love cuban mahogany cuts sands dries really easy and very stable I get it from tree trimmers easy wood to dry barely moves I dont check moisture

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2776 days

#3 posted 11-29-2012 04:34 PM

Cherry. It works beautifully with hand or power tools and smells great when cut.

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

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2373 days

#4 posted 11-29-2012 05:10 PM

Poplar and Pine are great woods to use.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2388 days

#5 posted 11-29-2012 07:39 PM

When I saw this post’s title, I thought my answer would be “free”, ie free wood, but a more serious answer is a wood like walnut that is beautiful, fairly easy to work, not super expensive, readily available, domestic, sustainable and not hard on tooling.

Moisture control is very important in something like furniture construction, much less so in carving. ie it depends on what you are planning to do when it comes to secondary issues like moisture, stability . . .

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View JohnnyStrawberry's profile


246 posts in 2518 days

#6 posted 11-29-2012 09:56 PM

Beech. It’s strong and hard and easy to cut with any tools and for me the warmest. Steamed beech has wonderful color as well. Beech can move quite a lot though. That’s why I do measure moisture content.
Red willow for its incredible burls. (Tomorrow I’ll post some pictures.)
Larch for durability and for its scent.
I like black locust for its beauty and hardness but it’s not easy to work with.
And what is yours?

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3114 days

#7 posted 11-29-2012 10:02 PM

I go for “cheap”, but having said that, I like both White Ash and Soft Maple.

The ash is light in color and easy to satin, plus at 1320 Janka it is plenty hard. The Soft Maple at 950 Janka, is a pleasure to work. It saws and planes very easily. Staining is a little more problematic, but who am I to say since I am rather new at staining and have had my challenges.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3508 days

#8 posted 11-29-2012 10:54 PM

I find it difficult to come up with a single answer…there are so many different types of wood in the world and I am trying to use as many as I possibly can get my hands on..

Some woods are easier to work with but some woods just look nicer. I have always found cherry, walnut, maple, mahogany, teak, padauk and numerous others are easily worked, shaped and sanded. Some woods such as Zebrawood and Wenge, plus others splinter easily…I have my share of splinters to backup this.
Some woods are harder to work but really take a great finish while some work nicely but need alot of pores filled before applying a finish.

View AandCstyle's profile


3178 posts in 2457 days

#9 posted 11-30-2012 12:48 AM

My favorite wood is qswo. The grain is, IMO, beautiful and I enjoy the smell when I cut it. I live in the desert and store the wood for months in my shop before use so I don’t measure MC. Unfortunately, I have to buy it since it doesn’t grow in central NM.

-- Art

View WoodGoddess's profile


100 posts in 2267 days

#10 posted 11-30-2012 12:52 AM

I will admit that I’ve only ever worked with maple and cedar. I had to deal with installing my maple hardwood floors and that was my window into a whole new world. I learned that wood needed to cure…to breathe…to adjust. I learned that some wood was harder than others…some would accept stain while others would politely decline.

When I worked with cedar I learned that it’s easy enough to cut and handle but didn’t have as much of a beautiful grain that I admire in other woods.

Thanks for sharing guys! I was wondering what I needed to build my next project. I keep going back and forth. I want to build something that I can use everyday and know that I made it with my own hands. I thought I’d build a bench then I changed that to raised garden beds then to flower beds. I’ve finally decided on building a silverware drawer organizer. I’m not sure what type of wood I’ll need and was hoping to get a good idea by posting this. :-)

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3358 days

#11 posted 11-30-2012 01:24 AM

Black walnut. It machines easy, reasonably inexpensive, no two pieces seem to look alike, and every piece is gorgeous.

-- jay,

View Stormy's profile


164 posts in 2397 days

#12 posted 11-30-2012 01:55 AM

God has given us many beautiful woods with which to work our craft. Don’t limit yourself to any one. Enjoy as many as you can.

-- Stormy: Sometimes the wood just tells you what it wants to be.

View DHaden's profile


77 posts in 2858 days

#13 posted 11-30-2012 11:05 PM

Black Walnut and Hard Maple have been my favorites for awhile. I really like the contrast. I bought some cherry last fall, and LOVE IT! They are all fairly tight grained and I really like the way they finish with a good sanding and Danish Oil.

-- Measure once, cut twice.

View DrDirt's profile


4510 posts in 3942 days

#14 posted 11-30-2012 11:16 PM

Walnut – nice grain, great color, and holds carving/details well
Poplar – similar to Walnut but cheaper, but can be finished to look like cherry
Oak – it is cheap and durable

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Woodmaster1's profile


1070 posts in 2787 days

#15 posted 11-30-2012 11:26 PM

I like quartersawn red oak right now. I used walnut for a while. When I get tired of the quartersawn red oak I am going to try cherry.

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