Materials Used in Ornamental Turning

A lot of materials can be used by ornamental turners to make their pieces. The ones listed below is not an exclusive list, but covers the ones I have used or others have submitted to me. If you find a good one that is not listed, please do send it to me for inclusion.

Jon Magill made these recommendations regarding selection of material.

  1. Avoid woods that have open pores, meaning avoid woods like walnut and ash.
  2. Depending on your design and decoration goals, it often makes sense to avoid woods with striking grain patterns that compete with subtle decorative cuts.
  3. Pay attention and adjust cutter speeds on woods that are more prone to burning, like cherry and maple.
  4. Many of the fruitwoods are great, if you can get them and successfully season them. I particularly like plum, pear, apple and the citrus woods like orange.
  5. Last but not least, consider Gorst du Plessis's adage: Life is too short to turn crappy wood.

The Wood Database is a great online reference tool, so links to that site are included on the pages accessed from this one. 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 would work well.

There is a additional web page regarding materials with general information, including:

Index of Woods


Blackwood, African



Desert Ironwood



Lignum Vitae


Mopane, Mopani

Osage Orange



Pink Ivory




Index of Non-Woods
Acrylic Artificial Ivory Bone
Resin Stabilized Turning Stock

About this site
Disclaimer : eMail comments to me at OTBookOfKnowledge @ The process of woodturning involves the use of tools, machinery and materials which could cause injury or be a health hazard unless proper precautions are taken, including the wearing of appropriate protective equipment.