Woodworking starter guide

Woodworking starter guide

What is woodworking?

Woodworking is the art of turning various forms of wood into accessible and useful items. Woodworking started as a profession, but it has since evolved into a hobby. People are learning how to work with wood in increasing numbers to make everything from basic wooden frames and cutlery to intricate wooden furniture and dog houses.

If you are keen on knowing the many possibilities you can discover with wood and woodworking keep reading. 

Types of woodworking

Throughout ancient history wood has been used for various purposes and has become a very important part of our lives. Humans have evolved various techniques to cut, shape and mould a beautiful piece of wood to satisfy our needs.

Given below are some of the most popular woodworking techniques that you should consider to take up as a hobby or even someday a profession. You will also be able to find details regarding what wood would be suitable for what technique.


Wood carving is a form of woodworking that involves using one hand to hold a cutting tool, two hands to hold a chisel, or one hand to hold a chisel and one hand to hold a mallet to create a wooden figure or figurine, or sculptural ornamentation on a wooden item. This is a really intricate process and requires an artistic flair. 

Almost all kinds of wood can be used for woodworking which is going to be really difficult to choose from. Here is where we help you decide. Our top three choices for woodworking for beginners would be basswood, black walnut and oak.

  • Basswood : The most common wood for beginners is basswood. This white wood can be found all over Europe and the Americas. For millennia, it has been used in woodworking. Basswood is suitable for new woodworkers because it has almost no grain and is very soft.

  • Blackwalnut : Another common option is black walnut. It costs a little more than basswood. For the best performance, sharp tools and a mallet should be used to carve it. Walnut is famous for a variety of items, including furniture and gunstocks, due to its rich colour and grain.

  • Oak : Oak is also a common carving wood, with a number of characteristics that make it almost perfect. It's a tough and durable wood. Oak has a distinct grain pattern and is a common wood for furniture making.

2. Woodturning

Woodturning is the art of cutting a symmetrical shape around the axis of rotation using a wood lathe and hand-held tools. This woodworking technique almost resembles that of pottery and the wood lathe, like the potter's wheel, is a simple device that can produce a variety of shapes, even very complicated designs. 

Woodturning on the other hand cannot be done by all kinds of wood and it should be selected after care consideration. Well here are our top three woods suitable for woodturning.

  • Figured Maple

There are several types of figured maple including curl, fiddleback, spalted, tiger,          birds-eye, and more. The best part about figured maple is that these kind of wood comes with natures crazy designs and they look absolutely stunning when turned, sanded down and polished.        

  • Cherry

Cherry happens to be a fine grained wood which is exactly why oil finishes and transparent lacquers, varnishes work well on cherry. Do try thinning the first coat to act as a sealer, this will result in a smoother finish. Yellowish or pale yellowish-white sapwood, sometimes with a purplish tinge, is sharply characterised. The heartwood is rose to dark brown in colour, with deeper purple-black streaks. The darker streaks give the wood a pleasing appearance.

  • Walnut

Walnut needs sharp tools and should be turned at a lathe speed of 800-1,000 rpm. Walnut's pronounced end grain in the bottom of a bowl tears easily and creates a difficult-to-sand base, as bowl turners know. A plain finish is the best for walnut woods.

3. Pyrography

Greek words pur and graphos, which mean "writing with fire” which is one way of defining Pyrography, also known as pyrogravure. It is a free-hand technique for decorating wood or other materials with burn marks created by the controlled application of a heated object like a poker. Pokerwork or wood burning are other names for it. While any wood can be used for pyrography, woods like Basswood, Birch, Poplar, and even Pine board are common choices. Lighter-colored woods with muted grain patterns are great at highlighting the detail and contrast of your design.

4. Scroll sawing

Cutting complex shapes by hand in relatively thin wood. The scroll saw employs thin blades that allow for the creation of small radius curves and delicate cuts, such as inlays. The works can vary from simple flat plaques to complex 3-D structures. Cedar and plywood are suggested as good practise woods, although some people suggest a good quality Baltic birch (Scroll Saw Forums). Poplar is probably the best practise wood because it has a more even grain than pine, allowing you to hack at a consistent pace without having to change blades.

5. Wood Mosaics

  • Marquetry

Marquetry is the method of using thin veneers or layers of materials such as hardwood, shell, or ivory to create patterns and designs on items such as furniture. Cut and fit pieces together to create a highly decorative flat surface picture. Marquetry is an ancient art form that has been practised for thousands of years. Many exotic and traditional European woods, from near-white boxwood to near-black ebony, can be used, with veneers that hold stains well, such as sycamore, coloured to provide colours not found in nature.

  • Intarsia

Intarsia is a technique that involves fitting different shapes, sizes, and species of wood together to produce a mosaic-like image with the illusion of depth. Intarsia is made by layering various types of wood together and varying the grain pattern and colouring to produce variations in the pattern. Sycamore trees' wood is mostly sapwood, similar to maple, with some darker heartwood streaks in most boards. The sapwood is white to light tan, with a darker reddish brown heartwood. It's great for skin tones in intarsia.

We hope you found this article fun and informative. For any more information on exotic woods or where to get them head on to https://exoticwoodzone.com/ and find out more about the fascinating world of woodworking.