Do you have a knack for woodturning? Wondering what wood to use for your next project? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll dive into the exciting world of woodturning and explore the best types of wood to use for your creations. So, grab your lathe and let’s get started!

Woodturning is a fascinating craft that allows you to transform a block of wood into beautiful and functional objects. But with so many wood options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Fear not! We’re here to help you make sense of it all and select the perfect wood for your projects.

From the dark and rich tones of walnut to the vibrant and colorful grains of maple, each type of wood brings its own unique characteristics to the table. Whether you’re a beginner looking to experiment or a seasoned woodturner searching for new inspiration, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s explore the fascinating world of woodturning together and discover what wood to use for your next masterpiece!

what wood to use for woodturning?

Choosing the Right Wood for Woodturning: A Comprehensive Guide

Woodturning is a popular craft that involves shaping and sculpting wood using a lathe. One of the most important considerations in woodturning is selecting the right type of wood. Different woods have distinct characteristics that can greatly impact the outcome of your project. In this article, we will explore the various factors to consider when choosing wood for woodturning, including wood density, grain pattern, stability, and more. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodturner, this guide will help you make informed decisions and achieve stunning results in your woodworking projects.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood for Woodturning

Density: Heavy Woods for Stability and Durability

Wood density is a crucial factor in woodturning as it affects the stability and durability of the finished piece. Dense hardwoods, such as maple, oak, and walnut, are often preferred for their strength and resistance to wear and tear. These woods also tend to have a smooth and fine texture, making them ideal for intricate detailing and precision work. While heavy woods may be more challenging to work with due to their hardness, they offer superior stability and less risk of warping or cracking.

Benefits of Dense Woods:

– Superior durability and longevity
– Excellent resistance to wear and tear
– Smooth texture for intricate detailing
– Reduced risk of warping or cracking

Grain Pattern: Enhancing the Aesthetics of Your Turning

The grain pattern of wood can greatly influence the visual appeal of your turned projects. Some woods, such as mahogany and cherry, feature beautiful and distinct grain patterns that add depth and character to the finished piece. These woods are often praised for their natural beauty and unique color variations. On the other hand, woods like maple and birch have a more subtle and uniform grain pattern, allowing the focus to be on the shape and form of the turning. Consider the desired aesthetic outcome of your project and choose a wood with a grain pattern that complements your vision.

See also  How Can I Make Money From Woodworking At Home?

Tips for Choosing Wood based on Grain Pattern:

– Select woods with distinct and pronounced grain patterns for a visually striking piece.
– Opt for woods with subtle and uniform grain patterns to highlight the shape and form of the turning.
– Experiment with different woods to discover unique combinations of grain patterns for stunning effects.

Stability: Minimizing the Risk of Wood Movement

Wood stability is a critical factor to consider when choosing wood for woodturning. The stability of wood refers to its ability to resist changes in size, shape, or dimension due to environmental factors like temperature and humidity. Woods that are more stable, such as teak or ebony, are less prone to warping, shrinking, or expanding, which can lead to cracks or distortions in the turned piece. It is essential to consider the climate conditions in your workshop and the environment where the finished piece will be displayed to ensure the wood remains stable over time.

Tips for Choosing Stable Woods:

– Research the stability characteristics of different wood species.
– Acclimate the wood to your workshop environment before turning.
– Apply appropriate finishes or sealants to minimize the effects of temperature and humidity changes.

Workability: Choosing Woods that Suit Your Skill Level

The workability of wood is an important consideration, especially for beginners. Some woods are easier to turn and shape due to their softer nature, while others may require more advanced techniques and tools. Softwoods like pine and cedar are often recommended for beginners as they are more forgiving and easier to manipulate. Hardwoods like oak and maple, on the other hand, may require sharper tools and more experience to achieve clean cuts and smooth finishes. Consider your skill level, experience, and available tools before selecting a wood species for your project.

Tips for Choosing Woods based on Workability:

– Start with softer woods like pine or cedar if you’re a beginner.
– Gradually experiment with harder woods as your skills and confidence develop.
– Invest in high-quality tools and keep them sharp for cleaner cuts and better results.

Availability and Cost: Balancing Quality and Affordability

The availability and cost of wood can significantly impact your woodturning projects. Some rare and exotic woods may be challenging to find and come with a hefty price tag. While these woods may offer unique aesthetic qualities, it’s essential to consider their availability and cost-effectiveness for your specific project. Many local suppliers offer a wide range of domestic hardwoods that are readily available and more affordable. These woods, such as cherry or walnut, offer excellent quality and beauty at a fraction of the cost of more exotic species.

Tips for Balancing Availability and Cost:

– Explore local suppliers for a wide selection of domestic hardwoods.
– Consider the specific requirements of your project and choose a wood that matches both your aesthetic vision and budget.
– Experiment with wood combinations to achieve a unique look while incorporating more cost-effective options.

Environmental Considerations: Sustaining the Future of Woodworking

In an era of increasing environmental consciousness, it’s important to consider the sustainability of the wood you choose for your projects. Some woods, such as teak or mahogany, are sourced from endangered forests and may contribute to deforestation. Instead, opt for sustainably harvested woods or reclaimed wood from salvaged sources. By choosing environmentally friendly options, you can contribute to the preservation of natural resources and promote responsible woodworking practices.

See also  What Size Clamps For Woodworking?

Tips for Choosing Environmentally Friendly Woods:

– Research the sources and sustainability practices of different wood suppliers.
– Look for certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure the wood comes from responsibly managed forests.
– Consider using reclaimed wood or repurposing materials to reduce environmental impact.

Best Wood Species for Woodturning

After considering the various factors mentioned above, here are some popular wood species that are highly recommended for woodturning:

1) Maple: Known for its light color and fine grain, maple is a versatile wood that can be turned into both functional objects and decorative items.

2) Oak: With its pronounced grain pattern, oak offers a traditional and timeless look. It is durable and ideal for larger turnings.

3) Walnut: Renowned for its rich, dark color, walnut adds a touch of elegance to any project. It is a strong and stable wood that turns beautifully.

4) Cherry: Cherry wood is prized for its warm tones and beautiful grain patterns. It is a relatively soft wood that is easy to work with and finishes well.

5) Mahogany: This tropical hardwood features rich reddish-brown hues and a straight grain pattern. Mahogany turns effortlessly and adds a touch of sophistication to any turning.

6) Ash: Ash is a strong and lightweight wood that is perfect for a variety of woodturning applications. It has an attractive pale color and visible grain patterns.

7) Birch: Birch is a light-colored wood with a smooth texture and a uniform grain pattern. It turns easily and is great for beginners.

8) Ebony: Known for its deep black color and fine texture, ebony is a dense wood that turns beautifully. It is often used for decorative accents and high-end projects.

9) Rosewood: Rosewood is highly regarded for its rich reddish-brown color and strong grain patterns. It turns well and produces stunning results.

10) Boxwood: Boxwood is a dense and fine-grained wood that is ideal for small turnings and intricate details. It is known for its pale yellow color.

Remember, the best wood species for your project ultimately depends on your specific goals, preferences, and skill level. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore new woods to discover the unique possibilities they offer in woodturning.


Choosing the right wood for woodturning is a crucial aspect of achieving successful and visually stunning results. Consider the density, grain pattern, stability, workability, availability, cost, and environmental impact of the wood before making a decision. Each wood species has its own unique characteristics and aesthetic qualities, making the selection process an exciting journey of exploration and creativity. By understanding the different factors to consider and the best wood species for woodturning, you can enhance your skills, create beautiful pieces, and enjoy the craft to its fullest. Happy woodturning!

Key Takeaways: What Wood to Use for Woodturning?

– Choose a hardwood like maple, oak, or cherry for woodturning projects.
– Softwoods like pine are not recommended as they tend to be too soft and easily damaged.
– Exotic woods such as ebony or purpleheart can add unique features to your woodturning creations.
– Consider the moisture content of the wood to prevent cracking or warping during the turning process.
– Experiment with different types of wood to discover your personal preferences and the effects they create.
See also  How Is Wood Glue Made?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you curious about the best wood to use for woodturning? We’ve got you covered! Read on to find helpful answers to some common questions.

1. What are the characteristics of a good wood for woodturning?

A good wood for woodturning should be strong, stable, and easy to work with. It should have beautiful grain patterns and be resistant to splitting and warping. Additionally, it should hold detail well and have a smooth finish when turned.

Some popular wood choices for woodturning include maple, oak, walnut, and cherry. These woods are known for their durability and easy machinability, making them suitable for a wide range of projects.

2. Are there any woods I should avoid for woodturning?

Yes, there are some woods that are not ideal for woodturning. Softwoods like pine can be too soft and prone to tear-out, making them challenging to work with. Highly resinous woods like pine and cedar can also cause issues due to the sap interfering with the turning process.

Additionally, some woods may pose health risks due to their toxic nature or allergenic properties. For example, woods like yew and oleander are toxic and should be avoided for woodturning projects.

3. Can I use reclaimed or salvaged wood for woodturning?

Absolutely! Reclaimed or salvaged wood can be a great choice for woodturning. In fact, using reclaimed wood adds character and uniqueness to your projects. However, there are a few things to consider when using reclaimed wood.

Make sure the wood is free from any rot, insect infestation, or other structural issues that could compromise the integrity of your turned piece. It’s also a good idea to properly clean and dry the wood before turning to avoid any surprises during the process.

4. Should I consider the moisture content of the wood?

Yes, the moisture content of the wood is an important factor to consider. Wood with a high moisture content may shrink or crack when drying, causing issues with your turned piece. It’s recommended to use wood with a moisture content of around 10-15% for best results.

To determine the moisture content, you can use a moisture meter or follow some simple drying techniques before starting your woodturning project. This will help ensure a successful and stable final result.

5. Can I mix different types of wood for my woodturning projects?

Absolutely! Mixing different types of wood can create stunning visual effects in your woodturning projects. It allows you to play with contrasting colors, grains, and textures. However, you should consider the compatibility of the woods you plan to mix.

It’s important to select woods that have similar characteristics in terms of density, hardness, and moisture content. This will help ensure that the different woods work well together during turning and minimize potential issues like uneven drying or cracking.

what wood to use for woodturning? 2

Beginners Guide to Woodturning Tools


Choosing the right wood for woodturning is important. Soft woods like pine are easy to work with but may not be very durable. Hardwoods like oak and maple are strong but harder to shape. Each type of wood has its own characteristics, so it’s important to consider the purpose of your project and the look you want to achieve. Don’t forget to always wear safety gear and have fun exploring the world of woodturning!

Leave a Reply

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