Al Ladd  Fine Edge Woodworking

ashAsh. I use ash end grain in Amish quilt cutting boards, and sometimes in the large chopping blocks. It's hard and strong for its weight, hence its use in baseball bats. I also use it for the bellows frames in concertinas, and some of the internal work for them, where its strength to weight characteristics are perfect.
birdseye mapleBirds-eye maple.  Birds-eye maple is a genetic freak of Northern hard maple ("rock" maple) that occurs in about one of every 500 trees. The density and structure of the eyes can vary considerably. Some isn't really attractive at all, but at its best it is among the most beautiful woods in the world. I use very high quality birds-eye for Running Pelta box cases and inlay banding coupled with veneered panels on the birds eye inlay banding boxes.
bloodwoodBloodwood is a heavy, dense, oily, heavily pigmented tropical wood. It's a great "red" for decorative work. It clogs abrasives rapidly, and tends to be unstable after re-sawing, and it's hard to glue with aliphatic resin, so I use epoxy or polyurethane glue for it. I use it for its end grain in box-tops: Amish quilt, Serape, and Weathervane, or for a dark vibrant red in inlay work. It holds it's color well, unlike some other red woods which either fade or darken.
ashBrazilian tulipwood is the lightest colored of the true rosewoods, and has been long prized as a decorative wood, having been used in inlay bandings since the early days of European colonization of the New World. It's now hard to find Brazilian tulipwood in lengths longer than 3 feet, or widths greater than 4 inches, but that's not a problem for the applications I make of it: the central top of eight book-matched slices in my Brazilian tulipwood jewelry box, and as a pink accent in the Amish quilt and serape jewelry box tops. It's also perfect for the tulips in my Dalbergia Garden jewelry box.
ashBubinga, sometimes called African rosewood, is a beautiful, hard, dense pleasantly fragrant (though not a true rosewood) African hardwood. Bubinga is often beautifully figured, and is available in several different cuts of veneer, including an interesting rotary cut. I use it for my darker collectors boxes and ring boxes, and make a striking inlay banding box with a mix of solid wood, shop-sawn and commercial veneers.
ashCherry is perhaps North America's premier furniture hardwood. It's hard enough and soft enough to be worked easily and satisfyingly, and takes a beautiful finish. Industry has trouble coping with the color variations between trees and between the sapwood and heartwood and so they commit the sin of staining this beautiful wood, totally ruining it. I use mostly curly cherry for my boxes, and and use cherry end-grain in Amish Quilt, Weathervane, Striped Quilt, and Kings Crown cutting boards..
ashCurly maple occurs in Northern hard maple, southern "soft maple", and Western Bigleaf maple, and I use curly soft maple for some of my collectors boxes and ring boxes, and for the inlay banding around the tulips in the Dalbergia Garden Jewelry Box. The curl isn't interesting on the wood's endgrain.
ashEbony-This is one of the world's most prized hardwoods and very expensive. It is extremely hard and takes a spectacular polish.  I bought a load of Gabon ebony billets (quarter-to- half log sections), allowing me to use the wood in inlay bandings, and for my drawer pulls in all my jewelry boxes.  I use it for the legs in my Dalbergia Garden jewelry box and in many of my inlays.
ashHickory is the famed tool handle woods. It is hard and tough, but not very dimensionally stable. I use squares of its end-grain in my Amish quilt cutting boards, and Rosepath cutting boards. The boards are often mostly sapwood, which is plenty hard, but the heart wood, visible in the left side of the face grain image, is more distinctive.



ashHolly is the whitest wood in the world (say that three times fast!), and when it is at its whitest, it has no peer as a contrast to just about everything else. But as the lack of extractives that color other hardwoods leaves holly vulnerable to fungi stains, it is quite a trick to dry holly fast enough to keep it white. I've seen 1 1/2 thick holly become permeated with blue stain fungus overnight. I use it in almost every jewelry box top I make, and I use the veneer as well in laminations where a thin white line is needed. It has the look of ivory, particularly on its end-grain. Though some maple may be very light in value on its face grain, no other wood's end grain is close to as light and white as holly.  It comes mostly from the great timber states of Delaware and Maryland.
ashashHoney locust is a little-used, but beautiful hardwood. It has only some of the excellent rot-resistant qualities of the better known (at least here in New England) black locust, but it is much easier to work, and it's color is more subdued and richer. I use its endgrain in Kings Crown and Striped Quilt cutting boards, and I used the face grain to make the "leaves" in the inlay banding around the Dalbergia Garden tulip panel.
ashJatoba, also known as Brazilian cherry,( although the wood really has nothing to do with cherry; it doesn't even look like cherry), is a dense, hard and very attractive Brazilian hardwood, that is readily available in the US these days, even often finding it's way into flooring. I use it in cutting boards for a reddish color in Amish quilt, weathervane, and small rail fence.
ash Koa is a wood that grows only in Hawaii, at high elevation. It's considered by many (myself among them) to be the most beautiful wood in the world. Reflecting the soil and climatic diversity of its origins, koa is very different from tree to tree, ranging from light golden pink to chocolaty brown,  and from as  light as cedar to  as dense as rosewood, but always with a chatoyance (light reflecting brilliance) that makes it a visual treat. Tremendous efforts have gone into replanting koa that should  yield results in coming decades, but at present it is in very short supply, and it's desirability for guitars and furniture price it towards the top of the worlds hardwoods.

ashashLacewood- (endgrain on right).This wood, often known as Australian lacewood, or Australian silky oak has unusually thick medullary rays, visible as the lighter stripes on the endgrain, and depending upon how the face is exposed relative to the rays, as a fish-scale like pattern on the face grain. This wood is a bit on the soft side, so for most box applications I prefer the visually similar leopardwood. My lacewood banding box uses them both.
leopardwoodleopardwood endgrainLeopardwood--This wood is visually a darker version of the better known lacewood, from Australia, but this is a Brazilian wood, very dense and heavy. It's extremely hard to work with hand tools, and about as splintery as any other wood. I think it's also very beautiful, and it works well for arts-and-crafts style construction, where it's reminiscent of fumed oak. I use it it my Arts-and-Crafts style jewelry box, and for legs and stretchers on my square inlay banding jewelry boxes. When quarter-sawn it has huge ray flecks, and this is the preferred way of using it for most applications. It's very hard to dry, and often thicker stock will have wetter cores that can be a problem. The end grain is cool too, and I use it in my Amish quilt jewelry box tops.
ashMacassar Ebony-This is one of the world's most prized and expensive hardwoods. It is extremely hard and takes a spectacular polish. I use it for sky in all my landscape laminations, for legs in the Dalbergia garden jewelry box, and occasionally make beautiful custom boxes or even cabinets from a mix if solid lumber and veneer.
ashPadauk is a flashy African hardwood that is brilliant orange-red when first milled, but darkens over the months following to a nearly black burgundy. I use it for corners in Railfence cutting boards.  It's hard and a bit brittle, but cuts cleanly, and is fun to work with sharp hand tools. It's very oily with a sweetish scent, and causes skin allergy in some people.
ashashPalmwood-This wood is a natural for my work; it stars its endgrain,(on the right). I use it for the ovals in the Hawaiian Bouquet jewelry box. It's hard, heavy, and expensive, from places like Bali, and I'm told it's a nightmare to turn. But what endgrain! Like lizard-skin.
ashPink Ivorywood-This is a strikingly pink wood from the South Africa region, with much romance about it. It's often said to have been historically a sort of royal, semi-sacred wood, reserved in use only for chief's staffs. Now it's used in high-end billiard-cues. I use it in my heart ring box, where it's end grain's color and density transform the box from folksy to elegant. It is as hard and dense as ebony, and some pieces have a curl that make working with many tools impossible. Pink ivorywood is so expensive, its use in jewelry boxes is really limited to small bits of inlays, and its color is so electric, that's really all that one needs (or wants...).
ashPurpleheart is a very heavy and dense Brazilian wood, also known as amaranth. It is relatively inexpensive, and usually machines cleanly. It also glues well, unlike many other tropical species. It's very popular for craft items, but its flashy color requires care in use to avoid being gaudy. I only use a little bit in my jewelry boxes, in the tops of the Amish quilt and serape jewelry boxes. It's a natural for cutting boards, because of its hardness, and I use it in most of my cutting boards. With care, one can achieve nice complimentary color effects with Brazilian satinwood. Surprisingly, I've never seen any tendency for its color to bleed into adjacent woods, and it's color changes over time, but remains quite purple.
ashQuilted Maple-This is a genetic freak of bigleaf maple, from the Pacific Northwest. It's one of the the world's most beautiful figured woods, and commands a high price, especially since the explosion in luthiery  lately. It's a medium hard wood with some very obnoxious working qualities. Although not very hard, its easily subject to burning, and often takes a fuzzy surface off of cutting tools. But its worth the effort. My quilted maple inlay banding jewelry box is one of my most popular pieces.
ashashRed oak (end grain on right)is what most people mean when they say "oak", although white oak is preferred for some specialty uses, usually involving prolonged contact with water. This is a common furniture wood, although most woodworkers consider it a bit course for really fine work. It's a very pleasant wood to work, machining cleanly, yet soft enough to work by hand. I don't really use it in jewelry boxes, except for some squares in Amish quilt tops, but it's distinctive end grain makes a wonderful border for Amish Quilt cutting boards, and I also use it in Rail Fence and Weathervane cutting boards.
ash Satinwoods- This refers to a variety of yellow hued species from around the tropics. The queens of these are from Sri Lanka (often referred to as Ceylon satinwood), rarely available, and a West Indian satinwood that's even more rare and precious. A more readily obtained Brazilian satinwood, known as yellowheart or  pau amarello is a bit on the electric side, but great for contrast in some cases. I have a stash of some beautiful  wood sold to me as West Indian satinwood, but I have my doubts. It has just a hint of  green  in its golden-yellow, very nice curl, and it's  a bit lighter in weight than W. Indian satinwood should be, but it's very beautiful.
spalted maplespalted maple endgrainSpalted Maple is maple that , after dying, has started to undergo fungus decay. The black lines are the front of the fungal assault. After drying the assault is arrested, and we're left with this often beautifully  altered material. It's particularly beautiful on its endgrain (right), where the different zones of more and less decayed wood often look like islands on ancient maps. I use  bookmatched medallions of spalted maple in my ever popular Arts and Crafts jewelry box.
walnut Walnut is, along with cherry, the quintessential American furniture wood. Its hard, but not too hard, attractive without being showy, and works great with both hand and power tools. It has a  mild, pleasant walnut fragrance when being worked as well. I use it extensively in cutting boards. I also use a couple variants in box work. First is Peruvian walnut, or nogal, slightly lighter in weight, but on its end grain, more uniformly dark than American walnut, so an affordable substitute for a really dark contrast to light wood in end grain use. Next is claro walnut from the walnut orchards and shade trees in the Pacific Northwest, down through California. This can be among the word's most beautiful dark woods, with remarkable figure, including heavy curl, variegated colors,  and burls. I use it for special custom pieces and silverware chests.
ashwenge end grainWenge is a hard dense African wood with very coarse grain, yet it takes a beautiful polish. It's end grain (right) is especially nice, with fine bands of black and brown. It sometimes is brown until it oxidizes or is exposed to light. It was inexpensive 20 years ago, but has become quite costly. I use it extensively for its end grain, and have made boxes from it.It has an interesting almost chocaltey aroma(maybe this is just association through color...) and produces the nastiest, most aboundant slivers of any wood I've handled. A cheaper inferior substitute is panga panga, a bit lighter in color, subject to chalk deposits.
zebra wood zebrawood endgrainZebrawood is another showy African hardwood, once inexpensive, but now very costly after being decimated by volcanic activity, and popularity in the west.  It smells like garbage. I use it occasionally for its endgrain.