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Hi,

I've been making a few projects with hand tools and I've mainly been using sapele as there are tons of offcuts at my local hardwood dealer but I was wondering what other woods I should be looking into. I bought some planed oak that was in the offcuts as well but its very very difficult to plane to thickness, it seems very dry to me but I've not used oak so it could be just what it's like!

What's your favourite wood to use when you're using hand tools? Hard or soft woods, and comparing ease of use/results.
 

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There's some perfect wood out there, I'd like to think, but really it's a matter of give and take.

Cherry is very pleasant to work, but it's really quite weak and doesn't work in small dimensions for intricate joinery, for example. Beech planes beautifully but has some property of resilience, maybe somehow related to the fact that it's the best steam bending wood, that makes chopping out a mortise a lot more work than it should be for wood that really isn't "that" hard.

Merbau is wonderful to work by hand, very rewarding, but it has some kind of goop in it (silicates I think) that will keep you resharpening continually. Paulownia is laughably easy to work but is a bitch to get a clean surface on end grain, and also contains silicates, so you're working the second lightest wood in the world and it's dulling your tools, wtf?!. The true rosewoods are a dream to cut joinery in, can't say first hand how they plane by hand, though.

And so on. The closest to perfect all around that I've worked with so far (no power tools) are European walnut and pear.

It's a great question.
 
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