New to CNC what’s the best wood

Hello I am currently waiting on my CNC but I already have a small business and plan on strictly using wood but don’t want to spend a fortune I usually use spruce pine fir or white wood. I even have a tons of pallets i use for my projects. They are all a softer wood but I just don’t know a whole lot about the setting and I see a lot of people use plywood which can be pricey. I just wanted to see if you can use those softer woods and if it still turns out good! Thank you I’m sure there’s a lot to learn I’ve tried to do some research and watch videos but it’s a lot to take In and hopefully won’t be overwhelming!


You should be fine with the standard settings in Easel. They are very conservative. You can increase the feed rate as you are carving and see how your machine handles it. I use a lot of the same types of wood. Check out my project page and you can see the results from similar wood that you are using.

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Bit diameter, feed rates, and depth of cut are directly related to wood density and resultant cut for your project. I’d get some pine, poplar, and maple and play with them if you are in the US. Those are pretty inexpensive to play with and learn from. I usually make test cuts on pine as maple is harder on the router bits.

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I would expect the pallet wood to be more trouble than the money saved. You never know what has been dripped on it, what kind of grit is embedded and how dry/stable, and its never, ever flat.

What wood you use is most likely dependent on where the work will be displayed/used. Maple is no good for outdoors but great for higher quality 3d/relief work. Oak is open grained so it is very difficult to get a really smoot finish with out filling the grain, which adds steps. The softer woods tend to be fiberous and so will leave a little fuzz and may chip out. I’ve had a lot of success on signs with redwood and cedar, relief carvings from cherry and maple.

My favorite wood to run is hard maple, it cuts very well

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My maple tree out front says “hold my beer” :grinning:

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Pallets are generally made of hardwoods. While there are a lot of issues with smoothness, warping etc, they do have character. Pick a hardwood for material out of the pulldown, soft maple would be a good guess. Poplar is relatively inexpensive and a nicer wood than pine.
Good luck.

I use my xcarve solely for woodworking. And i’ve tried tons of wood. I stay away from soft woods unless its requested just due to the amount of cleanup needed at the end because it always fuzzes up and doesn’t sever cleanly. I’ve had that issue with Pine, Yellow Pine, sapele etc. My absolute favorite wood to carve is Walnut. Good hardness and cutability while still being soft enough to get good feedrates without chatter. Hard maple and Jatoba cut amazing as well. Jatoba is so hard that you have to go super slow, but i always get a fantastic glass like finish after its machined. In my opinion, i would definitely keep pallet wood off the CNC. I’ve worked with it many times, always knicks my planer blades even if i brush it off with a wire brush. You just never know whats embedded in it, or where you’re going to clip a hidden nail and either break a bit or dull it a lot. Just my 2 cents. Hope it helps.