The wood you choose for your project will depend upon the project. Some wood works great for construction; other types work better for making furniture or instruments. Familiarize yourself with the basic characteristics of these wood types in order to save yourself time and money. Wood is categorized as softwood or hardwood. Let’s look at some examples and features.
About 80% of all lumber comes from softwoods which come from trees with needles and cones. This wood has a lower density than most hardwoods and, typically, is less expensive. Some types of softwoods are as follows:
- Cedar – the lightweight nature of this decay resistant wood provides an aromatic scent that wards off insects making it a perfect choice for closets, chests, and even landscaping
- Cypress – related to sequoias and redwoods, cypress is rot resistant even when exposed to wet conditions; it is often used for outdoor furnishings, docks, decks, and shingles
- Fir – Fir has tight, close grain lines providing strength and stability to this dull yellow wood often used for decking or other exterior applications.
- Pine – this softwood is made up of over 100 species worldwide; it is usually a soft, white or dull yellow wood that is lightweight
- Spruce – a member of the pine family, this evergreen is used in manufacturing musical instruments, furniture, and ship masts
Deciduous trees with broad leaves that produce a fruit or nut and generally go dormant in the winter are hardwoods. Hundreds of varieties exist. They are often measured relative to their hardness and classified by the Janka Rating System. Below is a list of some of these hardwoods:
- Ash – the coarse and interlocked grain of this grayish brown wood provides good strength and stiffness with relatively lightweight; it is often used for tool handles, pool cues, cabinetry, bats, and oars
- Maple – the straight grained, fine texture of maple is most commonly used for furniture production, bowling pins, butcher blocks, basketball floors, and musical instruments
- Oak – the most widely used hardwood is heavy, durable and resistant to decay; its attractive light color and prominent grain are found in long-lasting materials like chopping boards and furniture
- Poplar – considered to be a soft hardwood or, in some cases, a hard softwood; this type of wood is good for cabinets, painted furniture, moulding, and trim, and deck lumber
The beauty and character of your next project will be impacted by the wood you choose. Consider your options and choose the softwood or hardwood that will enhance your design with texture and grain patterns unique to each type of wood.