The term hardwood is not due to the actual hardness or thickness of the wood but describes whether or not a wood comes from a deciduous (leaf bearing) tree or conifer (cone bearing) tree. Hardwoods come from the former such as oak, cherry, mahogany, maple, and ash.
The most important tip in starting out with hardwoods is deciding which one to buy in the planning phase. Are you making an ornamental project that is going to bring out the natural beauty of stained wood? Are you making a practical woodworking project such as a birdhouse or banister?
Some woods like cherry and mahogany are naturally beautiful and should be used for more ornamental applications and need stain as opposed to paint. Other projects such as wooden toys, birdhouses, shelves, and the like will probably do with oak or ash and can be painted over without ruining any natural beauty.
When working with hardwoods it is vital that you use tools that work with woods and not metals. If you put a blade on a saw that is used to cut metal and not wood you will scar the wood with burn marks and ruin your project. Make sure the tools you use are appropriate for woodworking.
Cut the wood with even, steady pressure. If you go too fast the blade may jam and get caught in the wood. Going too slow against the wood means your saw won't even go through the plank.
Watch out for knots in your wood as they are difficult to work with including drilling, sawing, and putting in nails. Knotted and gnarled wood can be quite beautiful to look at but it makes it difficult to manipulate.
Give your hardwoods time to adhere to whatever glue you are using on them. Hardwoods absorb less water and paint so it would be the same with an adhesive. Give your wood the instructed time to dry and set in the adhesive's instructions.
When you paint or stain your piece, give your project ample time to dry before applying a second coat. Not only will your piece not have globs of paint on it but it will be a much more even finish.
Your hardwood project will look beautiful when it's done but be sure that you are meticulous with every step of the project. Once you cut a piece wrong or mismatch something you may have to start all over from the beginning.
Get coarse sandpaper to sand the edges down before you paint or stain. A coarser grain means you will need less pressure and slower speeds on your sander so as to not sand the wood too much.My last tip in working with hard wood is to have fun. Whatever project you decide to embark upon, have fun with it and give it your best whether it's a simple birdhouse or mahogany roll top desk.