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A good hardwood for practicing on?

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billw

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OK, I now have plenty of freshly sharpened tools (and some not so sharp ones) and want to try them out. I have some various offcuts but they're mostly a bit exotic and perhaps not the best for using to get an idea of how the tools are handling.

I have a large pile of European (I think) walnut - I've had a quick go with a couple of planes on it but it seems nice stuff to just obliterate into a large pile of shavings.

So I'm wondering what's a decent timber to use - considerations being relatively cheap, plentiful, and not particularly difficult to work. Oak maybe? I really don't like oak so I'd be happy to shred the stuff.

Edit: I really want to do a lot of work with maple and that's not exactly bank-busting, but I'd probably feel bad for wasting it.
 

Trevanion

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Beech if you want a very consistant material to work with to practice general toolwork, it's a bit hard on the tools but it will teach you to keep them sharp.
 

JonG

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Also any kind of Oak with a little figure as it will tear out if they are not sharp.
 

billw

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MikeG.":1xo84hc2 said:
What's wrong with using the walnut? It's just about the easiest wood I've ever worked with.
#

Nothing from a working perspective, it seems pretty good although I've managed to tear it out a few times ut that's my cackhanded planing rather than the wood. I think my issue is that I can see myself using it for something more than test material. I suppose I could just buy some more though.
 

Droogs

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MikeG.":pgj65ok2 said:
What's wrong with using the walnut? It's just about the easiest wood I've ever worked with.
exactly, I would rather practice on something that can have some "difficulties" like oak
 

sunnybob

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If youre going to feel guilty about "wasting good wood" then I think youre in the wrong hobby. :lol:
Apart from fast grown construction timber, ALL wood is a limited resource.
No point learning on cheap stuff because that just means youre going to have to learn all over again on the good stuff.

My favourites are walnut and beech. Not too hard, not too difficult to work unless the walnut has knots in. Maple is pretty plain and boring unless you go to top dollar figured. Bubinga is a lovely wood, very hard (it will test your sharpening skills), but the results are spectacular.

There are lots of brown wood as well, but again, boring mostly. :lol: 8)
 

Blackswanwood

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I would crack on with what I have got. If you are looking at just practicing using a plane flatten a face or square all of it up as then I will speed you up when you are going to use it?

Alternatively try the offcut pile that most timber merchants have - they usually have some bargains. Grab different types and you will learn about the wood as well as improving your skills.
 

Chris152

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Blackswanwood":3kvk9cla said:
Alternatively try the offcut pile that most timber merchants have - they usually have some bargains. Grab different types and you will learn about the wood as well as improving your skills.
This is what I did when i started trying to work with wood - I bought cheap offcuts of a variety of native woods at a local woodyard and cut and planed them, trying to learn about each. It was a fairly cheap thing to do - a few quid for each decent size piece. Once I realised which woods I liked, i bought those to start making things from.
 

Glynne

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To add to what SunnyBob says, the danger of too much practising is that you can get a little blasé with what you are doing. When you work on the real thing you will focus far more. By all means practice a few saw cuts before dovetailing to get your technique right, take a few shavings with a plane etc but aim for making something as you refine your skills.
 
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Chris152":2w9v3x0m said:
Blackswanwood":2w9v3x0m said:
Alternatively try the offcut pile that most timber merchants have - they usually have some bargains. Grab different types and you will learn about the wood as well as improving your skills.
This is what I did when i started trying to work with wood - I bought cheap offcuts of a variety of native woods at a local woodyard and cut and planed them, trying to learn about each. It was a fairly cheap thing to do - a few quid for each decent size piece. Once I realised which woods I liked, i bought those to start making things from.
I did this exact thing a few months ago. My experience was a little different ...

I asked the owner if he had an offcuts pile and he pointed me to selection of fairly random sized pieces with a few defects (not bad), and some minor cracking etc. None of it was priced up. Based on what I have read, I assumed I would pick up these offcuts for a good price, and so continued to select a good pile of interesting pieces of different species. I then proceeded to have them priced up.

I kid you not, he pulled out his price list, measured the dimensions of each damn piece (there were many!), and priced it up by the cubic meter as if it was normal stock. Took about 15 minutes.

Not expecting this, and not wanting to waste his time (as he had already been very helpful when discussing timber species) I just went along with it and paid.

Next time, I'll ask up front if they'll be discounted! :)
 

billw

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Well, having realised that I'll need to convert this rough sawn into PAR at some point I might as well just use the damned walnut. If I run out, and there's 20-ish blocks, then I'll get some scrap from a timber merchant after asking about a discount.
 

AndyT

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There are good guys as well, if you can find them. I bought some books and tools from an eBay seller in Somerset and arranged to collect from his home. His cottage was surrounded by lengths of hardwood leaning against every wall. He insisted that I should take a bootful with me.

It was all decent hardwood, mostly Idigbo, which he got for free from a local conservatory factory who needed to get rid of their waste. As an ex-woodworker, he didn't really want to burn any if he could give it away for use.
 

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If you’ve got good sized boards of walnut I’d be keeping them until I had a project that I could make well, and in my skill level.

If you want to practice making something square on all 4 faces, sawing in a straight line and staying perpendicular, marking a line and working to it, etc I’d get something much cheaper.

Yes some woods are more difficult to work than others, but if you can’t saw straight in pine, you won’t be able to in walnut.
Scrap from skips (everyone seems to be renovating at the moment) or free cycle etc will give you wood you can turn into artistic firewood.

Turning a good sized board of walnut into scraps would be a little sad IMO. If they’re already small bits that aren’t suitable for a project then have at it though
 

thetyreman

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just be wary of pine, much better to get quality redwood pine with fewer knots than any old piece, I've seen plenty of banana wood in skips that's not fit for purpose, but you might find the odd piece that's workable, I almost took an entire pine door recently until I looked closer and noticed how cracked and knotty it was so I just left it.
 

sunnybob

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I buy planks around 3 metres, x 5 cm x 20 cm.
Beech is roughly 15 quid.
Walnut is roughly 25 quid.
Bubinga can be 40 quid.

I really dont see the point of practising on wood that will behave nothing like the wood you actually want to use.
 

billw

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sunnybob":1yc240uz said:
I buy planks around 3 metres, x 5 cm x 20 cm.
Beech is roughly 15 quid.
Walnut is roughly 25 quid.
Bubinga can be 40 quid.

I really dont see the point of practising on wood that will behave nothing like the wood you actually want to use.
Where from?!
 

Droogs

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billw":l380z6sa said:
sunnybob":l380z6sa said:
I buy planks around 3 metres, x 5 cm x 20 cm.
Beech is roughly 15 quid.
Walnut is roughly 25 quid.
Bubinga can be 40 quid.

I really dont see the point of practising on wood that will behave nothing like the wood you actually want to use.
Where from?!
A Greek bearing gifts :roll:
 

Trainee neophyte

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Droogs":tvbs0pt0 said:
A Greek bearing gifts
There is only one possible project to make from Greek gift-wood:



Will follow the WIP with interest...
 
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