Educate or link me. Woods best for hand tools. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Educate or link me. Woods best for hand tools.

Hi all,

I'm looking for a resource that has information on which woods are easier or harder to work with hand tools.

I made the blunder of buying some Palm wood for a box project (thinking it looked cool) before realizing it's almost impossible to work with hand tools.

I've seen general 'workability' listings for wood, but none specific to just hand tools. Is there a 'workhorse' of sorts that an intermediate hand tool woodworker can buy and cut his teeth on?

Links or guidelines are appreciated. Also, would love to hear anyone's top three woods (from a workability stand point).

Thanks!

Dan
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 12:23 PM
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Ask people before the industrial revolution what wood they used: everything!!!!!

J/K

I do a lot with hand tools and like Sapele, Soft Maple, Pine, and walnut and Paduak
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 12:41 PM
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I like walnut, poplar, maple, mahogany, butternut, basswood (but it is rather colorless) cherry, but it will splinter if you don't watch it, so will ash, fir, birch and several other woods, you just have to watch the grain pattern and change directions when it changes. One of my favorite (when I can find it) is antique chestnut, very light and easy to work.

Roy Underhill is a good person to watch, he acts kinda goofy sometimes but he knows his stuff: http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/home/

Chris Schwarz is another good one:
http://www.popularwoodworking.com/wo...s-schwarz-blog

http://www.diychatroom.com/
The Other
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If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 02:44 PM
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Try this web site:

http://www.wood-database.com/

There are a few others that you can find using Google.

I would infer from the data that Palm is a pretty tough wood to work with:

Common Name(s): Black Palm, Palmyra Palm
Scientific Name: Borassus flabellifer
Distribution: Tropical Asia and Africa
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 61 lbs/ft3 (970 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .79, .97
Janka Hardness: 2,020 lbf (9,000 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 19,950 lbf/in2 (137.6 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,262,000 lbf/in2 (15.60 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 10,190 lbf/in2 (70.3 MPa)


Common Name(s): Red Palm, Coconut Palm
Scientific Name: Cocos nucifera
Distribution: Throughout the tropics worldwide
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 1-1.3 ft (.3-.4 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 51 lbs/ft3 (820 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .68, .82
Janka Hardness: 1,900 lbf (8,430 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 12,970 lbf/in2 (89.4 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,654,000 lbf/in2 (11.41 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 9,590 lbf/in2 (66.2 MPa)


Here in the Pacific Northwest, I work with big leaf maple a lot. It can be difficult to work with sometimes. Using a spiral head on the jointer and surface planer helps "tame the beast", as well as sharp planes and chisels.

Common Name(s): Bigleaf Maple
Scientific Name: Acer macrophyllum
Distribution: Coastal regions of Pacific North America
Tree Size: 80-100 ft (25-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 34lbs/ft3 (545 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .55
Janka Hardness: 850 lbf (3,780 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 10,700 lbf/in2 (73.8 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,450,000 lbf/in2 (10.00 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,950 lbf/in2 (41.0 MPa)

After comparing the data between your Palm and my maple, I will avoid Palm in the future.

Eric
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 03:06 PM
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Walnut, mahogany and cherry. They're medium hardness and weight and work rather easily. Poplar is good for getting started, as it's cheap and finishes well.

Dave in CT, USA
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 05:44 PM
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All easy woods here, and descending order of workability :
Pine, Poplar, Alder, Birch.
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 08:23 PM
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Several have posted their suggestions and I want to add Willow to the group. Willow is considered a hardwood but it is a soft wood to work.
Butternut, Poplar and Willow are my soft favorites.
And as someone has already posted, you still need to keep your plane sharp even with a the softer woods for good results.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all. Great lists to go by!

Last edited by DT Boss; 10-29-2015 at 11:59 PM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-29-2015, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asevereid View Post
All easy woods here, and descending order of workability :
Pine, Poplar, Alder, Birch.
Thank you, and hello to Kamloops! Used to love heading up from Seattle (where I grew up) for a semi-pro baseball tournament every summer. Good times.
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