Ornamental Turning Book of Knowledge
General Guidance on Materials Used in Ornamental Turning
The Wood Database is a great online reference tool, so links to that site are added where relevant. Images of the wood on this site are courtesy of Eric Meier at The Wood Database. As a side note, Eric has created a poster showing the woods in a form that is really nicely done. I have one in my shop and reference it often.
Eric posted a list of the Top Ten Hardest Woods. I'd bet any of the woods on this list (except Snakewood) would work well.
Finishing: Most ornamental turning pieces are not finished. If you choose to finish your work :
That last bullet is very important : My experience with trying to finish a very hard wood with shellac was a super fail, as was lacquer.
One product I like using is Tried & True's Original Wood Finish. I don't burnish with steel wool as I don't want to mess up the sharpness of the details, but a cloth works well.
Prototyping: Many woods used in ornamental turning are very expensive. If you use one of those, I recommend making a prototype using another, less expensive wood (e.g., Ash or Maple) to :
Materials Overview: Bonnie Klein put together this presentation on about various materials she uses. She gave a presentation about this at the 2018 Ornamental Turners International Symposium.
Using Multiple Materials: Bill Ooms put together this presentation on using multiple materials in the egg shown on the opening page of this web site. The egg is made from African Blackwood, Maple, Brown Ivory wood, and sterling silver.