Beginners Material Selection
As a beginner, I was very mindful of the material that I was using (and still am) because I don't relish the idea of screwing up an expensive walnut board... the choices of materials is pretty much endless and will vary depending on what you want to make, the four at the top of my "go to" list, include:
- MDF (various thickness) is a very cheap option, a full 8x4 sheet is around £20 in UK stores and most of the big stores will cut it down to a more manageable size. This stuff is usually very flat, has a consistant thickness and cuts really well, but kicks up a LOT of dust and you don't want that in your lungs so make sure you are running a dust collection and use a dust mask. I am yet to find an easy, good solution in the UK for white paint on MDF.
- Plywood is another cheap option, with prices around £20-£50 for an 8x4 sheet, depending on the thickness and quality. You can get some interesting results from different depth carves, as you will expose the layers in the sheet, but you may also expose hidden voids.
- I am always on the watch out for Reclaimed Furniture, especially on Facebook Marketplace; particularly looking for solid wood tables or units where the seller is advertising cheap, because the furniture needs some love. An example, I picked up a reasonable sized oak coffee table for £10 from which the top was equivalent to around £50 of material when stripped down and cleaned up. Be mindful that sellers don't always know what they have - which can work in your favour, but can also mean that the oak table is actually oak vaneered/stained plywood. Spend a little extra time to make sure you remove all the metal.
- Pallet Wood can be a great, FREE, source of material, but can also be quite time consuming to prepare. Be very careful of nails and it's generally not advisable to use pallet wood for anything which is going to come in contact with food; you don't know what has been on that pallet in its lifetime.