I'm not kidding. Head to your local home centre and find the isle that has a bunch of pre-dimensioned wood, then find the 1-by pine. Again with the pine you say? I know...I know, we have been taught that pine is crap-wood that is only suitable for painting or maybe getting a fire hot. The truth is that pine is the perfect wood for learning to woodwork with hand tools, here is why.
Pine forces you to become a great sharpener. Softwoods unlike its deciduous cousins will not easily be cut with anything but the sharpest of blades. The fibres would sooner compress under a blade rather stand tall and be cut. If this is true with face-grain, you can bet it goes double with end-grain. What to test the keenness of a blade’s edge? Take a scrap of pine and pare a bit of it’s end-grain. A sharp blade will take off a shaving leaving behind a pristine surface. Anything less than sharp will yield a white powder and a surface comparable (dare I say) to sanding.
Chisel sharpness will also be put to the test when working across end-grain. Paring the bottom of a pin socket will leave a torn-out surface with a dull blade, possibly leading to a poor fit when the joint gets put together.
If I look back at furniture that was made by the craftsmen of the 18th and early 19th centuries here in what used to be Upper Canada, you’ll see an awful lot of pine furniture that was both painted and oiled. The Quebecois furniture just up the road also has a strong heritage of pine construction. So just when exactly did it get it’s bad name for use in furniture making? Everything from occasional tables to workbenches was made with the stuff - why the upturned noses?
So I say work with pine if you want to become a hand tool rock star. If you can create beautiful surface in this softwood, any other wood will be a breeze.
In order to understand, you must do - V