Q&A: What kind of wood is best to us for dovetail practice?

Pine is cheap, but doesn’t really translate to most nice woods because it’s so soft, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on practice wood.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Poplar is my choice for practice. A drawer is composed of 2 sides of slightly inferior wood and the best wood used on the show surface or drawer front. A good combination of woods are poplar for drawer sides and cherry for a drawer front. This applies to very small to small drawers without much need for load. On larger drawers I would use a stronger wood with a higher specific gravity number for the sides. For small drawers, cherry and poplar combination also provide a dark/ light effect which many woodworkers strive for. For practicing hand cut dovetails, poplar hardwood is very good as it is much finer than pine, it is forgiving, easy to saw and compressible. Once you have mastered the hand cut dovetail, you can move on to harder woods for the drawer sides. The drawer front should be harder regardless. Cherry, walnut, mahogany, figured wood, etc..

Norman Pirollo

Poplar is cheaper or about the same as pine and is a hardwood.


any timber that has DAR characteristics, but don’t use fine furniture like your bed or dining table or any item you may get inti trouble for.

Regards Rob

I use any and all scraps that I have in my shop. The ones that dont work out goin the Barbie.


Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.