What Wood Should I Use to Start Woodworking?

Woodworking is a fantastic hobby that gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and utilize your creative juices to make useful items. However, getting started in woodworking can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to choosing the right wood. So what wood should you use as you start woodworking?  

You should use soft, inexpensive, and easy to work with woods, like maple, poplar, or pine to start woodworking. These types of wood are easy to cut and file, and they can take a stain easily, making your entire woodworking process easier and more manageable as you get started. 

Keep reading for an in-depth look at what types of wood are best for beginner woodworkers. I’ll also explore the various types of wood you can purchase and even share some tips about the tools and equipment required to get started.

What Wood Is Easiest to Use for Woodworking?

When trying out a new hobby, you need to start with the easier options and work your way up– and woodworking is no exception! Therefore it makes sense to know what wood is easiest to use and work with. 

Poplar, pine, and cedar are some of the easiest woods to use for woodworking. These are all softwoods, meaning you can easily shape them without using a lot of force. On top of this, these woods absorb stains well, so you can easily achieve an excellent finish. 

The best wood for woodworking largely depends on what you intend to make. However, generally, softwoods are easier to shape and cheaper than hardwoods. Although, you can’t use most softwoods to make things like furniture as they lack structural integrity. 

The knots and the grain in the wood are also essential factors in how hard a wood is to work with. If a plank of wood is full of knots, it can be very challenging for woodworking, and if you misread the grain line, then the wood can splinter and break. 

Therefore woods with clear grain lines and few knots are easiest to shape. 

If you need a hardwood that’s easy to work with for your project, oak is likely your best bet. Oak is robust and durable, comes in two colors, and is relatively easy to shape. However, working with hardwood like oak could challenge beginner woodworkers. 

What Wood Is Easiest to Carve?

The easiest wood to carve is basswood. Basswood is very soft, allowing you to carve it up easily. On top of this, basswood has tiny grain knots, enabling sculptures to carve great detail into the wood with relative ease. 

Carving wood is different from woodworking, as carving usually takes a more artistic approach. As a result, wood carvers need wood that can easily be cut and shaped while also being able to hold a lot of detail. If the wood can’t hold enough detail, the carving can look poor, or the wood may splinter. 

What Are the 3 Main Types of Wood? 

Wood comes in many forms; however, it is generally categorized into 3 main types. 

The 3 main types of wood are hardwood, softwood, and engineered wood. Hardwoods and softwoods exist in nature and come directly from trees. However, engineered wood is artificial and is usually designed for specific purposes or as a means of recycling waste wood. 

Each type of wood has its merits. Softwoods are generally easier to shape and affordable, while hardwoods are typically used to create furniture as they’re aesthetically pleasing and durable. Engineered wood, on the other hand, is often very cheap and used in construction as opposed to woodworking. 

What Is the Cheapest Wood?

When you’re first starting woodworking, you are going to make mistakes. As a result, you must find a type of wood that is inexpensive, so when you make a mistake, you can start again without worrying too much about costs. So which types of wood are the easiest on your pocket? 

The cheapest wood is maple. However, the price of wood can vary depending on a number of factors, including availability and your location. As a result, the cheapest wood can vary from country to country. Although in the United States, maple is the cheapest wood you can buy in most places

In many places, engineered wood is cheaper than soft and hardwood. However, engineered wood like plywood is unsuitable for most woodworking projects. Engineered wood usually consists of numerous layers of pieces of other wood pressed or glued together. 

As a result, filing or sawing through engineered wood can prove challenging. 

What Tools Do You Need for Basic Woodworking?

Now that you’re aware of which woods you should buy to get started on woodworking, it’s time to examine the other items you need. First and foremost, you will need tools to help you carve out your designs.

Here are some tools you need for basic woodworking: 

  • Saw 
  • Tape Measure 
  • Files 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Clamps
  • Chisel
  • Plane 
  • Claw Hammer 
  • Nails
  • Screws 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Paintbrush 

You can invest in an electric saw like a jigsaw for woodworking, but a handheld saw is sufficient when you’re first starting. Similarly, with sandpaper, you can opt to buy an electric sander to save time, or you can start with the basic sandpaper. 

As well as the tools listed above, you’ll also need a coating or paint of some sort. Varnish is the most straightforward coating to apply and use on wood for beginners; plus, it offers an excellent finish and protects the wood from the elements. 

Final Thoughts 

Woodworking is a great hobby for learning new skills, and for creating excellent wooden pieces, you should use a softwood that’s inexpensive and easy to use when you’re starting. The best woods for starting are pine, poplar, and maple, as they’re cheap and pretty easy to work with. 

If you’re on a tight budget, you should choose maple as it’s readily available and cheap. And if you’re looking for a hardwood that’s good for starting, look no further than oak. Once you’ve picked your wood to get started, you need to buy the tools and equipment to begin.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

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