Do any of you share my personal dilemma? I know that is too broad of a question, so specifically, do you have a hard time telling sapele from bubinga? Iroko from say – jacaranda? When I started woodworking, my family’s cabinet shop used oak and birch and maple for 90 percent of its work. We did spread our wings and use ash and cherry… pretty hoity-toity stuff…from time to time, but that was about it. All domestic hardwood and all of it very common. (Okay, mahogany was common, and it was from overseas, but you get my drift.)
When I learned the trade of luthiery, I worked with some exotic hardwoods – ebony and rosewoods of various types, but again, the selections were limited. Not anymore. Now there are so many kinds of wood available that it makes my head spin just to think about it. But while I have to confess that I don’t know as much about these exotic wood species as I likely should, I also think that it will be fun doing the learning. In some ways, it is like I am a kid in my dad’s shop again asking “What kind of wood is that? What’s it good for?” But my dilemma remains – where do I start? Bubinga or jacaranda?
Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal