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Favorite Carving Wood?

Robert, I would imagine since lignum vitae is hard and dense and is used to make mallets, carving it would be a real challenge. I've never tried it, though.

SmokyRick - sounds like you experienced something like sapele.

Matthew - I love to carve in mahogany also - but these days all mahoganies are definitely not the same. Be careful - there are a lot of wanna-be mahoganies out there that will cause many grey hairs and serious high blood pressure for woodcarvers.

Mary, what kind of problems have you run across? I picked this board up from woodcraft...I've started losing faith in their wood grading abilities after I carved that Gryphon. It's supposed to be African mahogany, but I'm sure it could be anything under the sun also.

Nancy Haynes has reacted to this post.
Nancy Haynes

Usually what I find is very squirly grain, where it switches direction every 1/4 to 1/2 inch. And quite often it is very hard. The Oak Leaf lesson has this challenging grain where the difficult areas needed to be carved across the grain. If you can get old growth mahogany (people are hoarding it now) such as Cuban or Honduran, that is beautiful to carve. That hasn't been readily available for quite a few years, and when you do find it, it's quite expensive.

Ah ok, that makes sense. I've seen the squirly grain the last couple days while working on grounding out a quarter mile worth of real estate. When it does hit a good stretch of downhill carving, it's pretty! I'm hoping by the end of next week when I finish this grounding, I can have fun carving the details. (And not have a lot of squirrel nests to deal with.)

I've used both pine and poplar and find them easy to find but lacking in carving quality.  What about ash?  I love woodworking using it.  How would it be to carve?

I did a small carving in Black Ash a while back. It is a very tough wood that required a mallet most of the time. My tools dulled quickly. I had trouble carving details as the wood split easily. I'm sure inexperience carving made it worse.

Thanks for the info in this forum. As a novice I've done all my carving in basswood thus far. I'm ready to do my first project in hard wood and wasn't sure with which to start. It's going to be corner appliques for a mirror frame and I was considering walnut... sounds like a reasonable option given what I'm reading here.

Has anybody ever tried carving Paduuk? I have turned it on the lathe and it turns nice. It's soft and has an open grain but I don't think it has an interlocking grain like some mahogany's and Sapele. I have a couple of turning blocks I just cringe at hollowing out on a lathe. Huge waste of wood.

I haven't tried padauk with gouges and chisels, but I did a small stylized bird carving in padouk with a knife a while back.  It was very  hard wood to work with but provided beautiful finish on that small piece.

I've enjoyed carving Yellow Heart and got some pretty satisfying results.  Anyone else tried this wood?