What's the Easiest Wood to Work ?

Woodworkers rate wood species on machinability, looks, and stainability. December 14, 2005

In your opinion, what is the easiest wood to work and finish into cabinets? I prefer alder.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
Beech is gaining in popularity, especially with dark finishes.

From contributor B:
For my shop it is red oak. We have worked so much of it over the years we are very good at reading the grain to predict what it will do.

From contributor C:
Balsa wood.

From contributor D:
Alder and Poplar are the easiest woods I have worked with. They are easy on the tools and sand very well. I've heard beech and bass wood are nice to work with also.

From contributor E:

From contributor F:
Pattern grade Mahogany.

From contributor G:

From contributor H:

From contributor I:
Alder (western red).

From contributor J:
Cherry (medium hardness and quite smooth)
Walnut (medium hardness but not as smooth)
Alder (it's so soft and the boards are narrow)
Oak (it's hard and not smooth)
Maple (it's so hard, but so smooth)
Beech (it's really hard, but not smooth)

As far as finishing goes, easiest to hardest:
Oak (starts light, easily goes any shade)
Beech (kind of like oak, but starts an ugly pink)
Walnut (starts too dark and too purple, but sucks up stain easily)
Alder (grain patterns aren't that inspiring)
Cherry (varies in color too much and doesn't suck up stain)
Maple (difficult unless you clear coat it, and that looks nice)

From contributor K:

I have just recently started my first project in Ash and I have to say it is an easy wood to work with and it is reasonably priced. I do prefer working with Teak because it is such a nice oily wood that it machines very smooth and has a nice aroma too. Some time back, I did a piece in cypress and that worked easily. Poplar can be used to make furniture and it is easy on the tools and it stains and even paints well. For cabinets I think red oak is the easiest plywood to work with because it is so easy to match the ply, hardwood frame and doors. Red oak also stains really well. Cherry can be tricky to match the frame to the plywood because so much of the hard wood has heart wood in it and often the plywood will be much darker than the hardwood.