Hardwood vs. softwood is actually decided by biology — so one has poplar, a deciduous “hardwood” which is softer than southern yellow pine, a coniferous “softwood”.
A better thing to look at is the janka hardness rating:
The CNC Cookbook folks looked at it a while back if memory serves, and I may have stuck a copy on the wiki somewhere — it would be neat to so how the hardness matches up w/ appropriate feed / speed rating.
Wood is more forgiving, and variable than metal though (I’d suggest starting with the mahogany numbers from: https://docs.carbide3d.com/support/#tooling-support ), so usually one can just use a reasonable setting — see: https://www.precisebits.com/tutorials/calibrating_feeds_n_speeds.htm for a good technique to dial things in.
Once you’re confident of the machine being mechanically sound, with solid workholding and if you’re taking reasonable sized chips the best way to get a good surface finish is to leave a roughing clearance thicker than your average chip, then take a finishing pass. Some tricks on that:
- use a new / sharp endmill — HSS is sharper than carbide and may be warranted on some projects
- some folks will actually spray a finish to harden the wood before the finishing pass — pricey, but in certain softwoods esp. this seems to work well
- use a downcut endmill such as our #251 — got a fabulous finish on some bamboo flooring on my last wood project.