I will outline some of the best beginners wood that I personally started with at the beginning of my carpentry/woodworking career. I used affordable wood so I wouldn't feel the pain in my pocket when I made those beginners mistakes.
First, I started with a plan; my first projects were boxes or little carvings, eg, pendants, dovetail keys, serving boards, handles, etc. keep it simple and practice the techniques!
Below is a list of wood that I used:
Pine or Spruce: This is a very affordable and softwood! But you need to make sure your tools are sharp, or there can be a lot of fraying when working on the end grain. I found it great for practice for hand tools due to its relative availability and low price. You can grab cutoffs at a local job site or lumber yard!
Positives: Cheap, easy to work with and available
Cons: If its the pitch isn't set (setting the pitch means crystallizing the sap) the knots can be very sappy so cut those out, difficult to stain and your tools need to be sharp for end grain work.
Willow: Its a hardwood with a good deal of flexibility, that's why they used in making shields! It is hard to machine and can be hard to make it smooth, so its best used for hand tools or sand to a higher grit. Finishes and glues well!
Positives: Cheap, light, easy to work with, stains and finishes well. Perfect for carving.
Cons: Hard to find wide boards, hard to machine, not a lot of character.
Poplar: Its a hardwood and excellent in all aspects of woodworking! It is soft so be careful of the application but like Willow hand tools are best but you can also sand up to a higher grit to get a better-finished product. It's a breeze to stain and finish.
Positives: Cheap, light, easy to work with, several different subspecies with different wood tones!
Cons: Difficult with machines, sharp hand tools needed.
For Handles or mallets, I went for the Harder woods! But don't be too concerned about your pocket, most places sell cutoffs or blanks that are a reasonable price especially for Ash! Ash is great, its flexible, easy to work with especially if you have a piece with straight grains.
All in all, make sure you have a plan with your project in mind and start small!
If you have any questions feel free to email me at RRwoodslab@gmail.com