Woodturning is a fascinating craft that involves shaping wood into beautiful objects. If you’re a beginner or even an experienced woodturner, you might wonder, “What wood is good for woodturning?” Don’t fret, my curious friend, because in this guide, we’ll explore the best types of wood for your turning projects.

When it comes to woodturning, the choice of wood plays a crucial role in the outcome of your project. Different woods have unique characteristics, such as hardness, grain patterns, and color variations. So, if you want to create stunning bowls, vases, or even wooden pens, it’s essential to choose the right wood for the job.

But don’t worry, my young woodworking enthusiast, I’ve got your back! In this guide, we’ll dive into the wonderful world of woodturning and discover the best types of wood that will make your projects shine. So, let’s get started and find out which wood is good for woodturning!

what wood is good for woodturning?

What Wood is Good for Woodturning?

Woodturning is a popular woodworking technique that involves shaping and manipulating wood using a lathe. The choice of wood plays a crucial role in determining the success and quality of the final woodturning project. Different woods have unique characteristics, such as hardness, density, grain pattern, and color, which can greatly impact the outcome of the turning process. In this article, we will explore the best types of wood for woodturning and discuss their properties, benefits, and potential uses.

The Best Wood for Woodturning

When it comes to selecting the right wood for woodturning, there are several factors to consider. The key is to choose a wood that is durable, easy to work with, and produces attractive results. Let’s delve into some of the top choices for woodturning:


Hickory is a popular choice among woodturners due to its strength and durability. It is a dense hardwood with a prominent grain pattern and a beautiful light to medium brown color. Hickory is known for its excellent shock resistance, which makes it ideal for turning projects that require stability and strength, such as tool handles and bowls. However, its dense nature can make it more challenging to work with compared to softer woods.

One of the advantages of using hickory is its flexibility and resistance to splitting, making it suitable for intricate and delicate turnings. It also showcases stunning grain patterns when finished properly, adding visual appeal to turned objects. However, hickory can be relatively expensive and may require sharp tools and careful techniques to avoid tearout and splintering.

Overall, hickory is a versatile and highly regarded wood for woodturning, offering both durability and aesthetic appeal. Its strength and resistance make it an excellent choice for a wide range of turning projects, from practical items to decorative art pieces.

See also  What Kind Of Paint Should You Use On Woodwork?


Maple is another popular wood for woodturning, preferred for its light color, fine texture, and excellent workability. It is known for its smooth and consistent grain pattern, which lends itself well to a variety of turned objects. Maple can range in color from creamy white to pale yellow, providing a neutral backdrop for both natural finishes and vibrant dyes or stains.

One of the standout characteristics of maple is its versatility. It can be easily turned, shaped, and carved, making it suitable for a wide range of projects, including spindle work, bowls, and even intricate pieces like wooden ornaments and handles. Maple also accepts finishes well, allowing woodturners to achieve a polished and refined look.

However, it is important to note that there are different types of maple, each with its own unique properties. Hard maple, also known as sugar maple, is denser and more durable, making it ideal for projects that require extra strength. Soft maple, on the other hand, is less dense and easier to work with, making it a suitable choice for beginners or those looking for a more forgiving wood.


Cherry wood is highly regarded for its exceptional beauty and versatility, making it a favorite among woodturners. It features a warm reddish-brown color that deepens and enriches over time with exposure to light. The grain pattern of cherry wood ranges from straight to slightly wavy, adding visual interest to turned pieces.

One of the standout qualities of cherry wood is its excellent workability. It turns smoothly and easily, making it suitable for both novice and experienced woodturners. Cherry is often used for creating decorative bowls, vases, and furniture components. Its natural warmth and attractive patina make it a popular choice for a wide range of woodworking projects.

Cherry wood also has good stability, making it less prone to warping or splitting. However, it should be noted that cherry wood can be relatively soft, so extra care should be taken to avoid tearout and tool marks. Utilizing sharp tools and practicing proper techniques will help achieve the best results.

Other Woods for Woodturning

In addition to the aforementioned woods, there is a wide variety of other woods that are commonly used in woodturning. Here are a few notable options:

1. Walnut

Walnut wood is valued for its rich and dark brown color, as well as its straight grain and fine texture. It is a medium-density hardwood that turns well and is commonly used for creating bowls, platters, and spindle work.

2. Oak

Oak is a strong and durable hardwood with a distinct grain pattern. It can be challenging to turn due to its density, but it produces stunning results when handled properly. Oak is often used for larger projects, such as furniture components and architectural turnings.

3. Ash

Ash is a strong and flexible hardwood that is relatively easy to turn. It features an attractive light brown color and a prominent grain pattern. Ash is commonly used for spindle work, tool handles, and larger turned objects.

See also  Is Elmer's School Glue The Same As Wood Glue?

4. Mahogany

Mahogany is a tropical hardwood known for its distinctive reddish-brown color and straight grain. It turns smoothly and finishes beautifully, making it a popular choice for decorative bowls, furniture components, and musical instruments.

5. Olive Wood

Olive wood is highly prized for its unique grain patterns and rich brown color with striking variations. It is a dense and durable wood that turns well and is sought after for creating small decorative items, such as pens, bottle stoppers, and handles.


Choosing the right wood for woodturning is crucial for achieving the desired results. Each type of wood offers its own unique characteristics and advantages, so it is important to consider factors such as strength, workability, grain pattern, and color. Hickory, maple, and cherry are popular choices due to their durability, workability, and aesthetic appeal. However, other woods like walnut, oak, ash, mahogany, and olive wood also have their own merits and are widely used in woodturning projects. Ultimately, the best wood for woodturning depends on the specific requirements of the project and the preferences of the woodturner.

Key Takeaways: What Wood is Good for Woodturning?

  • 1. Different woods have different characteristics that affect their suitability for woodturning.
  • 2. Hardwoods like maple and oak are popular choices for woodturning due to their durability and stability.
  • 3. Exotic woods such as padauk and ebony can add unique colors and textures to turned pieces.
  • 4. Softwoods like pine and cedar are less commonly used in woodturning, but can still produce beautiful results.
  • 5. It’s important to consider the grain pattern, hardness, and workability of a wood when choosing it for woodturning projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woodturning is a popular craft that requires the use of different types of wood. Here are some commonly asked questions about what wood is good for woodturning:

Q: What are some good types of wood for woodturning projects?

Woodturning projects require woods that are dense, durable, and easy to work with. Some popular choices include maple, oak, cherry, walnut, and birch. These woods have fine, straight grain patterns which make them ideal for turning on a lathe. Additionally, their hardness allows for intricate carving and turning without splitting or chipping.

However, it’s important to note that the choice of wood also depends on the specific project and personal preference. Different woods have unique characteristics that can enhance the final result, so it’s worth experimenting with different types to find the perfect fit for your woodturning endeavors.

Q: Are there any woods that should be avoided for woodturning?

While there are many types of wood that are suitable for woodturning, there are also some that should be avoided. Softwoods like pine, spruce, and cedar, for example, are generally not recommended for woodturning projects. These woods are less dense and can be prone to splintering during turning, making them difficult to work with.

See also  What Happens If Wood Glue Freezes?

Exotic woods with high oil content, such as rosewood or purpleheart, may also present challenges due to their density and hardness. They may require special tools and techniques to turn successfully. It’s advisable for beginners to start with the more commonly used woods before experimenting with more exotic options.

Q: Can I use reclaimed or salvaged wood for woodturning?

Yes, reclaimed or salvaged wood can be a great option for woodturning projects. Not only does it give new life to old or discarded wood, but it can also add a unique and rustic aesthetic to your creations. Keep in mind that reclaimed wood may have nails, screws, or other metal objects embedded in it, so be cautious and inspect the wood carefully before working with it.

Additionally, make sure the wood is properly dried and free from rot or insect infestations. It’s a good idea to consult with more experienced woodturners or do some research to learn how to prepare and work with reclaimed wood effectively.

Q: Are there any specific characteristics to look for when selecting wood for woodturning?

When selecting wood for woodturning, it’s important to consider a few key characteristics. First, check for straight and even grain patterns, as they are generally more visually appealing and easier to work with. Additionally, look for woods with a good balance of density and workability. Some woods may be too soft and prone to splitting, while others may be too hard and difficult to shape.

Consider the project you have in mind and choose a wood that complements its intended purpose. For example, if you are making a bowl, a wood that has good dimensional stability and resistance to moisture is ideal. Lastly, select wood that showcases the natural beauty of the grain, as this can enhance the final aesthetic of your woodturned piece.

Q: How should I prepare the wood before starting a woodturning project?

Preparing the wood before starting a woodturning project is essential for a successful outcome. Start by roughing out the shape of your project using a band saw or carving tools. Remove any bark or loose debris from the wood’s surface.

Woods with high moisture content should be air-dried or kiln-dried to achieve a suitable moisture level for turning. It’s recommended to let the wood acclimate in your workshop for a period of time to adjust to the surrounding humidity. Take necessary precautions to prevent the wood from warping or cracking during the drying process.

what wood is good for woodturning? 2

Which Hardwood Species Are Best for Wood Turning?


Different types of wood have different qualities that make them suitable for woodturning.

Some woods, like oak and walnut, are hard and strong, making them great for making durable items.

Other woods, like maple and cherry, have beautiful grains and colors, making them perfect for creating decorative pieces.

It’s important to consider the characteristics of each type of wood and choose the one that best fits your project.

Remember to take safety precautions and have fun exploring the world of woodturning!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *