I checked through the list of woods... but I couldn't find MDF!

Actually I was having fun doing some woodwork yesterday making sheet film holders.

After a bit of research the wood recommended as most workable for not too silly money was sapele.

This is mahogany family, but not your actual mahogany.

I'm based in the UK, so the list of woods available to me is going to be very different, so not much point making too many suggestions. Also, I suspect what I might buy locally as 'oak' and what someone in North America buys as 'oak' might be very different. But... then again we might both be buying some other wood imported from somewhere in Africa.

My sapele arrived a few days ago - but I didn't want to try out my rather poor woodworking skills out making a prototype out of this new wood, so I found an old shelf that a previous owner had put up in my kitchen. I removed it about 15 years ago and stuck it in my rather damp 'hot in the summer / below freezing in the winter' garage. I took it out and found it was still as flat as a slab of granite and in perfect condition. I sliced it up into 20 X 20 mm batons on the band saw. It seemed to saw really nicely - and worked fairly well on the router table, too. Quite hard, you need a slow feed, but I managed lots of really narrow slots with no chipping or splitting. Planing was not quite so easy - the grain tends to tear if you catch it in the wrong direction, but not too badly. I like the fact that after this time if it hasn't warped by now... I don't really expect it to move.

Frustratingly, I don't know what wood it is. It has a fairly straight grain, it's quite dense and is quite light brown when smooth, but the saw dust has a reddish tinge. I'm not much of a wordworker at all and certainly no sort of expert, but I'm guessing iroko, sometimes known as 'poor man's teak' - which would explain why it has kept so well. It is so nice to work with I'm beginning to wonder if I needed to bother with the sapele!
It would make a weatherproof 'tropical camera', too.