Wood Species

Gallery of Artwork
Upcoming Shows
The Process of Woodturning
Wood Species
Email Steve Helfant
Woodturning Links

There are more kinds of wood than any one person could turn in a lifetime.
These are a few of my favorite woods to turn:

Bocote (Cordia Gerascanthus)
Spectacular background colors of dark brown to red with multicolored strips that vary from yellow to orange and green to dark brown. Machines well, excellent turning stock. Somewhat hard to find material from Mexico and Central America.

Bubinga (Guibourtia Tessmannii)
This African species, also known as African Rosewood, is a beautiful dense hardwood with a rose-colored background and darker purple striping. Turns well and takes a high polish. Machines well with sharp tools.

Cherry (Prunus Serotina)
(Prunus serotina) Hard straight grained with firm texture. Heartwood is reddish brown to deep red, with brown flecks, and will naturally darken with age. Works well with hand and machine tools, finishes well. Great for turning. USA.

Cocobolo (Dalbergia spp.)
Hard and heavy wood with irregular grain with a medium fine texture. Heartwood is a varigated color from purple red to yellow, with black markings. The color turns deep orange red with exposure. West Coast Central America.

Manzanita Root

These natural root forms are hard and dense, with unbelievable grain and color below the gnarly exterior. Its random shape offers a most unusual medium for woodworkers. Manzanita often contain internal voids filled with dirt or small gravel. No two pieces are alike and because of the irregular shape and size.

Maple Burl
(Acer Macrophyllum)

Definitely my favorite wood to turn. Unbelievable, swirly, unpredictable grain patterns with light to dark variations of cream brown to dark brown color. Natural edges, bark inclusions and internal voids may be present, and are always part of the fun. Northwest USA.

Padauk (Pterocarpus Soyauxii)

Medium to hard wood, heartwood is deep orange red that will age to a deeper orange brown. Moderately coarse grain texture with straight to interlocking grain patterns, machines and turns well. West Africa.

Purpleheart (Peltogyne)

Medium to hard wood with tight, fairly straight grain with moderate to coarse texture. Bright purple when cut, darkens to brownish purple with exposure. Machines well with sharp tools. Turns and finishes well. Central and South America.

Wenge (Mellettia Laurentii)

Dark brown in color with very close grain and fine black veins. Fairly straight grained with coarse texture. Works fair with hand and machine tools and is an excellent turning stock. Africa.

Zebrawood (Microberlinia Brazzavilenis)

(Microberlinia brazzavillenis) Medium to heavy hardwood with possible coarse to very coarse grain texture depending on how it is cut. Light tan to golden yellow with streaks of dark brown to black. Africa.

Contact me at