Best Wood for Wood turning

Best Wood for Wood Turning

Achieving the desired outcome in woodturning requires, but not limited to the following: firstly, owning a good lathe; then, sharp tools and being professional among others. However, working with the right kindkind of wood of wood can make a huge difference in the results achieved.  In woodturning, one of the most engaging but yet vital aspects of woodwork remains the choice of wood to be used in order to create the desired furniture. It is so since one has to carefully consider the appearance, durability, hardness, colour, fibre, fire resistance, elasticity, workability and natural moisture absorbent level of the wood.

A defining factor of the kind of wood to use is the craft you intend to make and the conditions in which you make them. One needs to be particular about not just the beauty, but also the versatility of such wood. Thus, identifying and selecting the right wood is something close to a herculean task since a single wrong choice of wood by the turner ridicules all efforts made during lathing.

If you are looking to use the wood we are reviewing then check out our article on the best wood lathe under 1000 dollars.

How to choose a wood for turning

Considering that there are multiple choices of woods available for turning, and there is a high risk of choosing a poor quality wood, one needs to take iinto account the features a good wood should have. Some of these features include the hardness of the wood and its density. It is because the harder the wood, the more weighty it tends becomes. Using a demser wood will not only give the desired weight to your piece but also increase its durability.

Wood, with a relatively higher density tends to give a higher quality finished product. While on the other hand, a harder wood may produce a piece with little extra resistance to dents and dings, which may be very beneficial if the piece is functional rather than decorative. Thus, while making a choice of quality wood for turning,  the woodturner must put wood workability as well as rot and insect resistance into consideration: while some woods are known to be very easy to work on others may be very challenging, but yet durable. In the same vein,  some woods are known to be better for outdoor applications because of their resistance to moisture and insects. Put together, what becomes best for a particular turning is dependent on the kind of woodwork to be done.

Best Woods for woodturning

Apart from owning the perfect woodturning lathe and being skilled in turning, one can create an extremely beautiful and lasting artefacts, workpiece or furniture if appropriate efforts are put into sourcing and selecting the right raw material for turning. Some quality woods for turning are;

  1. Ashwood:

 Ashwoods are largely considered as being a very wonderful turning wood considering their durability and resistance to damage from impact. Used to produce most baseball bats,  handles for hammers, shovels and most popularly, the ash bowl.

  1. Beech:

This a very lightly coloured hardwood with a very high density.  Beechwood is a very durable and abrasion-resistant wood. The plainness of this hardwood makes it perfect for contrasts in segmented turnings to simulate other more expensive turnings. Thus,  it becomes preferable in making bowls and other items for drinking and dining.

  1. Ebony :

This is a very slow-growing hardwood taking at least a hundred years to reach full maturity making it very scarce and expensive. It exists in diverse specie such as deep, dark brown or jet black providing contrasting looks, especially when used in segmented woodturning.

  1. Hickory :

Very strong and flexible hardwood used in making some heavy-duty tools like dowels, wooden ladders,  etc. It is also known to be shock resistant.

  1. Rosewood :

 These trees grow up to heights of 100 feet. The trunks are straight and clear so that you can get a lot of wood without any defects or cracks. Rosewood grows in Asia and Africa, but it is difficult to procure as it is an endangered species. Rosewood enjoys a prized position for its deep reddish-brown colour and characteristic fragrance that lasts for years. You can make exceptional items like chessmen and parts of musical instruments from rosewood.

  1. Sycamore :

This hardwood possesses features that make it nearly impossible to split. Finely plain and highly-priced by woodturners as it contrasts other woods in segmented woodturning.

Others include, Cocobolo, Live Oak Root, Bradford Pear, Quartersawn Sycamore, Spalted Maple, Red Elm, Pacific Madrone, Box Elder, Walnut, Cherry, Figured Maple among others.

The Worst Kinds of wood to Turn

If there are existing woods seen as best for wood turnings, it is only natural to expect that there are worse or better put,  less preferred woods for turning, considering their characteristics. These woods include Mesquite – considered more like a root than as a plank of wood, used for small projects like paper grinders and pen turnings. Other examples of “worst woods for turning ” may also include Eastern White pine and Manzanitas, and many others.



Woodturning has been both an occupation and hobby for many woodturning enthusiasts. The need for appropriate raw materials and stocks for turning remains a slight challenge for many in the field.  Woods are different and are used for different purposes, which every woodworker should be able to spell out easily. Thus, most woods appear much more suitable for woodturning, than others.


Accessing a very suitable wood for turning may not be so easy considering the availability of countless options and various conditions to be considered. Nonetheless, one is not supposed to push aside the fact that certain turnings require distinct kind of wood to be considered to achieve desired results. A good turner must first be good at identifying suitable woods for certain woodworks while putting into consideration the essence of such a choice.

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