Favorite wood / material of choice

What’s your favorite material ? I made up some outdoor signs for Christmas gifts out of cedar I bought from the local box store.
Cedar is great, routes, paints, and finishes very well ( a little pricey). I’m looking for something different, not mdf. Oak doesn’t paint well, poplar isn’t to a bad, cherry and walnut pricey,
I’m looking for indoor or outdoor use.

Has anyone used what I believed is called MDO plywood, or maple?

Thanks, for all the help. I’ve had my XXL for a few weeks.



I have ordered Black Walnut from Amazon and Etsy that is very nice. I get Red Oak from Lowes but have cleaned out all the stores in my area for all the straight planks in large sizes.
I am planning on exploring the lumber yards next.

Here in the Ohio’s Amish country, sawmills and native lumber are everywhere, but finding some quality can be a challenge. I’ve been a woodworker for 40 years using mostly walnut and cherry. CNC has has always interested me maybe I’ll give maple a try.


I still have a bunch of rough 4/4 red oak I’d like to get rid of if anybody is close to central KY.


I use walnut, cherry, hard maple, soft maple, ash, beech, popular, cedar, white oak and red oak for different projects. I love the maples for signs. Cherry and walnut for jewelry boxes. Ash and beech are ok and reasonably priced. Popular is cheep but I dont get good carves out of it on the CNC usually. The oaks are great for furniture.

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I have done Maple and Yellow Birch and they both carve very well, white pine can be a bit stringy. Maple is very hard and you need to back off the F&S for best results.

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I’ve done a lot of hard maple, and really enjoy it. Does require a sharp tool or it can require some handwork to clean up edges. Cherry is really great to work with, but I’m not sure I would use it for an outdoor sign. I’ve been told that PVC (Aztek, etc) trim boards make great outdoor v-carved signs.


If you don’t need wood, expanded PVC is excellent. Carves like butter & takes paint well.


Don’t try to use any kind of plywood. Even the very “nice” stuff is only a veneer. If you paint it, and then try to sand of excess pain, you will most likely go through the veneer. There are usually holes in the layers under the veneer and it will ruin your project. I usually do signs like yours in birch. It isn’t very spendy and cuts nice.