What kind of wood do you use?
First, the ones I will never use…
Maple - I am very allergic to it.
Luan - I am very allergic to it. And it’s just crap. It’s soft, it produces an annoying fine dust when machined (i.e. sawn / cut), and it has a pathetic appearance.
Second, the “scrap” I use…
I have an oak plywood that I cannot get rid of. No matter how much I use, the garage always produces more. I think it’s somehow procreating. I don’t mind it. The “oak” is an amazingly thin veneer which is attractive. It’s not particularly strong. It machines well. I use it for prototypes.
Finally, the good stuff…
A very good choice is Baltic birch plywood. Especially for anything you expect to endure temperature extremes (it is “dimensionally stable”). It is very strong, machines well (with one exception), and is reasonably attractive. The one exception is when machining with a CNC router. The wood is “stringy”; you will have to clean off “hair” after machining.
Purple heart is a beautiful wood but not at all strong. However, Minwax Polycrylic dramatically increases the strength. (Polycrylic strengthens all woods. I suspect it is especially effective with purple heart because of the very large pores.) Because the wood is soft it machines very easily. It oxidizes which changes / dulls the color. If you use it (or anything with the same property), it is important to cut, sand, assemble, seal in as short a time as possible (think “a few days”).
Padauk is very similar to purple heart just orange instead of purple.
Zebrawood has a beautiful dramatic look. It is similar to Baltic birch for strength and machining.
Note: Especially colorful woods (like purple heart and paduak) will discolor other woods (don’t store purple heart with padauk).
I love / hate working with mesquite. It is amazingly strong. Except that there can be seams running through the wood that have zero strength. It is knotty. Or not. The grain runs every which way. It is, by far, the most difficult to machine wood I have ever worked. But, if you can pull it off, there is nothing else that has that amazing appearance.
I have a quarter-sawn wood that I really like but I cannot remember the species. It’s strong, machines well, and has a cool spotty look.
I had a wood that was denser than water. I think it was kingwood. I remember it being very strong, difficult to machine, and attractive. Strange interesting stuff.
I like oak. It’s obviously very strong, attractive, and machines well. It’s in this section because, in my experience, it devours tooling. I rarely use it because there are other choices that always have an advantage. I would only use it when strength was paramount.
What sort of joins do you make? Glue? Screws?
If what I’m making is largish, glue and screws. Otherwise just glue. Quality modern wood glue is always stronger than the wood itself. I use screws to hold pieces together while the glue dries (and because of paranoia; just in case the glue does not hold).
I have a desktop CNC machine so my current favourite joint is the finger joint. They are easy to draw (CAD), easy to machine, align well, are strong, and can be made reasonably attractive.