What's your favorite wood to turn? and Why?

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Forum topic by TonyArru posted 05-01-2017 03:53 PM 3066 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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90 posts in 2826 days

05-01-2017 03:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: woodturning wood lathe turning

Hey everyone, I thought it might be fun for some of us to share what our favorite varieties of wood to turn are. I am new to wood turning, I bought my first lathe (Steele City) about 4 months ago and I just can not get enough wood turning!
So, I look for wood on the side of the road everywhere I go now, looking for more practice pieces. So far I have turned a bunch of pens and a few lidded boxes along with many other small projects. But I have also turned a few different kinds of wood now too. I like oak, because it seems stable and cuts nicely, but I think my favorite so far is Walnut, its aromatic and looks beautiful, not to mention easy to cut and shape but also firm.
What do you all like to turn?

-- Tony S. Arru, Connecticut

32 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3980 days

#1 posted 05-01-2017 04:00 PM

Walnut is one of my favorites. Look at Craigs List under the free category for free firewood. Lots of great free turning wood there.

View Hockey's profile


182 posts in 1024 days

#2 posted 05-01-2017 04:03 PM

Love the smell of walnut. However, I have been having a great time turning some maple from a recently cut down tree.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2098 days

#3 posted 05-01-2017 04:43 PM

I got some pear from a friend. Really fine grain.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JayT's profile


6365 posts in 2823 days

#4 posted 05-01-2017 04:48 PM

I got some pear from a friend. Really fine grain.

- TheFridge

I just did a file handle this weekend out of some scrap pear from the firewood pile. Best turning wood I’ve used so far in my admittedly limited experience. Cuts easily and leaves a great finish.

Another one I like is Osage Orange. It is hard, heavy and tough, but because of that, it can polish up to a very high luster just with sandpaper. I’ve taken it clear to 2000 grit and it just kept getting a finer polish. Gotta have sharp tools, though.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View HokieKen's profile


12033 posts in 1750 days

#5 posted 05-01-2017 04:56 PM

The few small pieces of Cocobolo I’ve had turned like a dream. Of course, it’ll cost ya too. I find Cherry and Walnut to be easy turners too.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View xeddog's profile


271 posts in 3619 days

#6 posted 05-01-2017 05:20 PM


View Mark's profile


1029 posts in 2586 days

#7 posted 05-01-2017 05:57 PM

+1 xeddog. :). Cherry or Maple…..’cause that’s what I have the most of.

-- Mark

View RichCMD's profile


427 posts in 2553 days

#8 posted 05-01-2017 06:09 PM

I like turning maple and walnut. For pens I like olive and pink ivory.

-- Ride the bevel!

View TonyArru's profile


90 posts in 2826 days

#9 posted 05-01-2017 07:08 PM


- xeddog

Ha, this is my favorite kind of wood too! I’ve never tried pink ivory before I’ll have to keep my eyes open for that. I also have a friend who was able to get me some “Ipe” ? anyone have experience with that?

-- Tony S. Arru, Connecticut

View Woodknack's profile


13027 posts in 2992 days

#10 posted 05-01-2017 08:03 PM

- xeddog

Beat me to it.

... some “Ipe” ? anyone have experience with that?
- TonyArru

Slightly harder than brass, dulls steel pretty quickly but carbides do well and leave a nice finish.

-- Rick M,

View jeff's profile


1204 posts in 4076 days

#11 posted 05-02-2017 12:03 AM

Mesquite.Love the grain.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3374 days

#12 posted 05-02-2017 01:15 AM

Honey Mesquite for the smell. Screw Bean Mesquite for the grain.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4001 posts in 1889 days

#13 posted 05-02-2017 01:31 AM

I have only turned basswood, maple, birsdsye maple, hop hornbeam, ash and apple. I like turning apple the best.

... some “Ipe” ? anyone have experience with that?
- TonyArru

Slightly harder than brass, dulls steel pretty quickly but carbides do well and leave a nice finish.

- Rick M

I made a joiners mallet (not turned) from Ipe. I did not find it as hard to work as some say.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

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3004 posts in 4144 days

#14 posted 05-02-2017 12:14 PM


-- Genghis Khan and his brother Don, couldn't keep on keeping on...

View Babieca's profile


179 posts in 2116 days

#15 posted 05-02-2017 04:40 PM

Fruit woods! Apple, pear, and cherry have been great for me.

Hackberry was also surprisingly nice to turn.

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