So you’re ready to start your woodworking project?  It can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start.  Not to worry, you can do this!  I will walk you through a few thing look for and consider before you get started.

Stack of wood

What are we building?

The first thing we will need to think about is what you’re building.  Will this be an interior or exterior woodworking project?  Interior pieces can be constructed from just about any woods species with a wide variety of finishes. 

If you’re building a piece that will be used and kept outside you will want to work with a pressure treated wood.  Cedar is a species that is also a favorite choice for exterior applications.  I highly recommend that a clear exterior finish is  applied to exterior wood pieces.  Using the recommended exterior clear coats will ensure that your piece will last a life time.  

Wood Choices


  • Pine/Spruce (Soft Woods) 
  • Cedar (Soft wood)
  • Oak (Hard Wood)
  • Popular (Hard Wood)
  • Maple (Hard Wood)
  • Cherry (Hard Wood)
  • Barn Wood (Rustic)
  • Live edges (Rough Cut)

Considering that I typically only build rustic farm style furniture our go to wood species is pine.  The reason being is that pine is a soft wood that will show the aging from general use.  This really adds character to a rustic piece of furniture.  Pines are also the most affordable species of woods to use (other than a particle board or MDF) 

Barn Wood

Barn Woods

Barn wood is also a popular choice now.  There are many things to consider when using barn wood.  First will be your budget.  Unless you have an old barn in your back yard or know someone you can expect to pay top $ for most barn wood.  That said, after its sanded & finished it is quite difficult to replicate the barn wood look otherwise.

Hardwoods can be an excellent choice for high traffic areas such as table tops and facing on cabinets.  A popular choice for table tops (if you’re not looking for a rustic feel) would be Oak or Maple.  Although a if you can find some barn wood hardwoods that would be the ultimate rustic table top.  The beauty of hardwoods are the grains & durability.  Expect to pay 2-3 times the cost for any species of hardwood BUT it is a beauty!

Hard Woods

Always hand pick your own wood!

Now that you have decided what type of wood your going to use now comes the most important part! Hand picking each and every piece of wood that your going to use. You will be happy you did!

No Twist's wanted!!

Ensure that the piece of wood your selecting has NO TWIST by looking down all edges of the board. You can also do this by laying it on a flat surface (the floor) and check to see if wobbles from corner to corner. If there is a twist in the board kindly place it back on the pile.  

Straight edges

Check the edge of the board.  Is it straight?  If not you will want to make sure that you can straighten it with a Jointer if you have one in your shop.  You can also us a straight edge and a circular saw or a hand plane to straighten a board edge.

Check the cup

You will want to check the very end of the board for any cup. Trees have a natural circular pattern going from the interior to exterior of the tree.  The older the tree the more ring there are.  When looking at the end of a board you will want to look for vertical grains rather than horizontal grains that arch from side to side.  Although they are usable they have a greater chance of having a cup.  Not to worry Most cups can be taken out with a Thickness Planner which is a must have tool in all workshops!

I hope that you have found this informaiton helpful in any way.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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