Hand Tools

Re: You provided a good example of peril

David Weaver
can't speak for the US outside of where cherry grows (and maple and soft maple and poplar) other than to note how much alder has gone into guitars into the PNW (a little boring looking, but a smooth wood).

There's no shortage of hickory and things of the like here if you want to work it, but few people do because of the appearance (it's not that attractive). Same for locust - there's no reward there, and persimmon (which is more difficult to plane in some cases than its hardness would suggest - a 3k hardness rosewood is much less resistant to cutters than any persimmon I've planed). Persimmon is a nice dense wood, but it's not that attractive.

Side thickness strikes me as a bigger issue with dovetails - a 14 tpi saw that a skilled woodworker could use in anything from pine to hickory (just starting the cut differently with it and then leveling off) will tear up some really thin wood.

Cherry is $2-$6 a board foot here locally (around $5 for 4/4 or 5/4 FAS wood, and the lower end is 4/4 #1 common from time to time, which I don't think is worth it for a hand tooler because it's got so much runout and other bits that are unrewarding both for jack planing, but especially in making weak half blind sockets.

The easiest way I can think of to tell if wood has a bias/handedness as you say other than sawing it (because sometimes it's not as significant) is to pare four facets on the corners of a square piece. If two pare easily and one doesn't even if the wood grain is even, then you find that quickly. No clue what causes it. Beech has some of that. Every plane I've ever made has (even with dead quartersawn wood) one inside that floats and saws cleanly and one that doesn't, and two of the corners will pare easily and the others will be against the grain. It's a little more strange when you have a piece that's perfectly QS and it still occurs starkly.

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