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Best wood to work with?

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What is the best type of wood to work with? I know it's a broad question but I'm new in all this and I'm scrolling through the forums and I just see all different types of wood being talked about. Also where do you guys purchase different types of wood?

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The best wood to work with is .............wait for it................. The one you like to work the most.    Lumber yards, sawmills.

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The best wood to work with is true Honduras Mahogany. Hard to get these days and quite pricey but an absolute joy to use. Rich colors and grain and well behaved usually.. African Mahogany ( Kyaha )  or Sapele are nice too and more avalible & affordable but not always as well behaved. I think you should build your skills using more common domestic woods. Cherry is a real nice domestic wood. It all depends on the project, your personal tastes, skills and budget. 

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White/red oak and soft maple have been really good go-to's for me. They are easy to source locally, are cheap, and are over all just nice to work with at this point. Hand planing and working the oak can teach you alot about reading grain and finding out how easy tear out occurs.

 

 

I would suggest avoiding Woodcrafters or Rockler for buying your wood unless you need small blanks or exotic woods. They both have a serious up charge that you shouldn't have when buying it from a mill or lumber dealer. The guys on Woodtalk suggested looking for "sawmill" or "lumber" on Craigslist in this week's podcast.

 

 

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Here is a website that may be helpful in locating lumber sources close to you.  http://woodfinder.com

A lot of us try to work in a wood that will provide the project the color we want with out the use of stain. 

Welcome to the forums.

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5 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Locating good lumber can be a challenge, depending on your location. There are good online retailers,but shipping is a killer. Give us your general location, maybe someine nearby can hook you up with a source.

 

I recommend staying away from construction lumber for any kind of furniture projects. It can be done, but there are inherent problems that a new woodworker will find frustrating. The most popular domestic species seem to be walnut, cherry, and maple. There are many others, and avalability / cost varies by region. White oak is good for outdoor stuff, and pretty in some designs. Red oak gets a bad rap around here, but is a perfectly servicable hardwood. The coarse grain structure gives it an appearance that isn't appealing in many cases.

I am located in Southeast Michigan. 

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6 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Locating good lumber can be a challenge, depending on your location. There are good online retailers,but shipping is a killer. Give us your general location, maybe someine nearby can hook you up with a source.

 

I recommend staying away from construction lumber for any kind of furniture projects. It can be done, but there are inherent problems that a new woodworker will find frustrating. The most popular domestic species seem to be walnut, cherry, and maple. There are many others, and avalability / cost varies by region. White oak is good for outdoor stuff, and pretty in some designs. Red oak gets a bad rap around here, but is a perfectly servicable hardwood. The coarse grain structure gives it an appearance that isn't appealing in many cases.

I am located in Southeast Michigan. 

Armstrong Millworks - 3039 Highland Rd, Highland, MI 48357 http://www.armstrongmillworks.com/

Fantastic place. 

General Hardwood Company - 7201 E McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48212 http://www.generalhardwood.com/

Nice variety.

Also check out the new Rockler location in Novi and Woodcraft in Sterling Heights.

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12 hours ago, OldSouthWoodCraft said:

guys on Woodtalk suggested looking for "sawmill" or "lumber" on Craigslist in this week's podcast.

 

 

 

Ya that wasn't the takeaway I had from that segment. If I remember correctly, a caller from Boston said that's how he sourced all of his lumber.

The guys sort of agreed that was an option with lots of caveats attached. In essence, being very scrupulous.

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Ya that wasn't the takeaway I had from that segment. If I remember correctly, a caller from Boston said that's how he sourced all of his lumber.

The guys sort of agreed that was an option with lots of caveats attached. In essence, being very scrupulous.

 

Yeah that was my take away from it too Brendon.

 

But for the beginner woodworker with limited options it's a start. Yes you may get some crap wood but it will teach you pretty quickly how to weed out the crap from the cream of the crop. From my POV I think that would benefit the beginner because learning from your mistakes is the only way to get better.

 

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3 hours ago, OldSouthWoodCraft said:

From my POV I think that would benefit the beginner because learning from your mistakes is the only way to get better.

As a beginner I do try to learn from my mistakes but I much prefer to learn from someone else's mistakes. That is why it is super-helpful when posters here mention what they did wrong on a project and how they handled the problem.

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The mistakes to avoid through the advice of others can be very useful, but what you learn from your own mistakes will be invaluable .

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For practicing cuts or poplar is not bad.  I can usually find some odd pieces in the 70% bin at home depot. Other than that, hard maple, cherry, white oak, walnut ($$$$), even hackberry.  Some of the non-honduran mahoganies look nice but are tough to work with becuase the tear and chip easily.  Contrary to some opinions, red oak was what I use the most when I was starting out.  It can tend chip an tear a little but it is relatively inexpensive and I like the finished look for the a rts and crafts type project I was doing at the time.  There may be others depending on your locatons that I don't have access to.  

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One other thing to consider is what you are building. Craftsman furniture seems to look best with the oaks/ash that the original builders used. On the other hand chippendale probably wouldn't look great in oak. It's pretty subjective, but something to keep in mind. 

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I think ash is a great "all purpose wood". You can get a ton of different looks if you get creative with your finishing. Relatively easy to work but is still very strong and an all around good choice to get started with. 

Depending on your area ash is still kinda cheap from the the huge surplus we had from all the dying ash trees.

A good lumber yard/saw mill is worth traveling a bit out of the way for amd way cheaper than trying to find anything at places like woodcraft. Prettymuch never get wood from places like home depot, even if it looks straight and all good, that stuff has usually been dried so poorly that it is just full of internal stresses that it will twist and move all over the place.

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