Wood is available in different sizes, textures, colors, and shapes. Since wood is obtained from trees and there are various species of trees, hence; it would not be surprising if you get to know that there is a large types of wood used for woodworking.
Whether you are choosing wood for your furniture or building something out of wood, understanding woods types is beneficial. Softwood and hardwood are two basic varieties of wood you might come across. Here you will get to know kind of woods so that you can pick the right one for furniture woodworking and a decorative art piece.
- 1 What are softwood and hardwoods?
- 2 Common points of difference between softwoods and hardwoods
- 3 Different Types Of Woods For Woodworking
- 4 The Janka Hardness
- 5 Which wood is best-suited for woodworking and why?
What are softwood and hardwoods?
These wood types come from a conifer or coniferous trees having a needle or cone-shaped leaves. Such type of wood belongs to the botanical group referred to as Gymnopermae plants that are capable of tolerating exposed seeds.
- Highly flexible and lighter in weight.
- Softwood trees grow much quicker and thus are considered a renewable source.
- Softwoods are mainly used for windows, internal doors, and so on.
- It is efficient to use softwoods for tables, which can be used as dining room tables and coffee tables.
- It is used for the manufacturing of windows and interior moldings.
- It is used for producing sheet goods like fibreboard and plywood.
These come from broad-leaves and thus tend to be slowly emerging. Most individuals love to work with hardwood when it comes to woodworking. The variety of grain patterns, colors, and textures makes hardwood the most interesting and favorable wood type for appealing-looking furniture.
- Hardwoods have a more complex and condensed structure.
- Offers a tremendous level of strength plus durability
- It’s stress-free to clean and fix scratches and dents.
- It is used for paneling, buildings, and outdoor furniture.
- Usually, people prefer to use hardwood for flooring.
Another type of wood is engineered woods; which are not natural occurring woods. Often called as composite woods, are made from leftover wood of sawmills. These woods are innovated to meet certain criteria that can be never achieved from natural occurring woods.
Even they further treated with chemicals and heat process for enhancement. Also, these boards are created by joining multiple layers/pieces to achieve a specific size or wood grain patterning.
Examples: plywood board, fiber wood board, composite wood, veneers, MDF and HDF.
Common points of difference between softwoods and hardwoods
|These are less durable as compared to hardwood. Additionally, these require more maintenance and care.||Some hardwoods are more flexible and tend to be set aside for woodworking that requires maximum longevity and durability. They’re harder then softwoods.|
|These have a shorter life span when it comes to external applications.||Hardwoods are considered as a great investment as these require less maintenance and last longer with natural weather.|
|Some softwoods are effortlessly manipulated, readily available, and thus are cheaper.||They are quite expensive.|
|Common types of softwood include cedar||Common types of hardwoods are teak, oak, maple, beech, meranti, and iroko.|
Different Types Of Woods For Woodworking
There are different types of woods available in the market these days. Some of them are listed below with their features and specializations
It is a type of softwood that is well-known for its warm and exquisite aromatic note. The even grain patterns and consistent density makes this type of wood less likely to warp or swell. Cedar helps in keeping your interiors warm in the cold climate.
Cedar woods may cause irritation on the skin. So, avoid using this wood in any woodworking project which includes skin contact.
Apart from having the ability to accept stains, cedar has the following properties:
- Extremely tough and durable to the elements
- Capable of handling wet environments efficiently without rotting
- Tremendously soft and has a slightly pungent smell.
- It is useful for outdoor furniture.
- Western red cedar is commonly used for commercial projects like building exteriors.
This wood type often refers to as Douglas Fir and globally known for its remarkable strength to weight ratio. This type of wood forms efficient bonds with a diverse range of adhesives under different bonding conditions. It has an outstanding screw holding plus highly resistant to splitting and possess the following properties:
- Includes straight and prominent grain
- Good machining qualities like shapes well.
- Has a reddish-brown shade to it
- Extraordinary staining, sanding, and painting assets
- Fir is mostly used for building purposes.
- Useful for structural purposes such as post and beam construction
Being relatively soft, it’s hassle-free to use redwood. The straight and longboards line-up without any defect or deviation enables you to use it for outdoor decks. From accents, cabins, lodges to aesthetic purposes, redwood serves as the best wood type for woodworking. A chemical inside its pores makes redwood resistant to insects.
- Highly resistant to moisture
- Contains generally straight grain
- Needs less maintenance
- Easy to install around doors and windows
- It is a tremendous choice when you look at the wood type for outdoor furniture.
- Perfect for picnic table legs and tops
Pine is the soft pale yellow wood, which is very lightweight and also lacks figure. It is resistant to shrinking and swelling, which is effective and attractive due to decorative effects. Usually, everyone likes to add this wood to their house as provincial furniture.
Pine woods looks perfect whether you paint, stain or finish them with a clear coat.
- Pine is an elastic and softwood with medium weight.
- It is heartwood with the natural durability of the material.
- It contains high moisture content that generally forms blue staining on it.
- Pinewood has maximum usage in building and construction.
- People add Pinewood furniture for interior furnishing to their homes.
- Pinewood is used to prepare wood or paper pulp.
Ash is very famous in the eastern US. People considered it to be commercially important wood. Around 16 species for ash wood are present on the earth. The United States is abundant in its production.
- It is a hard, porous, and a heavy wood type.
- This wood has a great resemblance with oak wood due to its white to brown color.
- Ash is a dark summerwood with white spots visible with the naked eyes.
- It is used for structural framing and bent furniture pieces
- Many people use ash to prepare hockey sticks, turnings, tool handles, and baseball bats.
Birchwood is available in different species. However, the yellow birch is very famous out of all. It is available in white and light reddish in the shade with the uniform texture in it. Often people characterize it as a plain with the curly-wavy pattern.
- Birch is a heavy, hard, and strong wood with uniform texture on it.
- Birch is famous for its crushing strength with shock-resistant properties.
- It is an elastic and tough medium-weight wood type.
- It is used in furniture and paneling work.
- People use it in the construction of doors and kitchen cabinets.
Cherry wood is one of the most treasured hardwood for its enriching color pattern from light pink to rich reddish hue with a lustrous patina. It is considered as the reasonably priced furniture hardwood. It comes from black cherry fruit tree found in America.
- Cherry wood is extremely heavy and durable.
- The ripening process becomes prominent within the first six months, though it can take years to obtain the exact reddish hue.
- It has a smooth, closed grain pattern and depends on the growth of the tree.
- The resistance of the wood is moderate.
- Highest grade woods are used for making furniture.
- Mid- and low- tier wood is often used for cabinets and wood flooring.
- Because of its pleasant aroma, it is used to smoke food such as meat as well.
Mahogany wood is one of the prime commercial lumber. This tropical wood is not at all unduly priced because of its durability and flexibility and can be used for different purposes.
- The reddish-brown color which darkens overtimes.
- It has a soft, lustrous surface when polished.
- Timber is very stable due to the straight-grain patterns and lack of soft grain.
- A strong, robust wood, and excellent workability.
- Resistant to insects and rot.
- Its flexibility and texture is the perfect solution for furniture.
- Used as the exterior of the boat because it’s interlocking grain makes it resistant to water.
- Highly used in paneling, flooring, and musical instruments.
The light creamy color and incredibly strong maple wood are the most desirable among the woodworkers and furniture aficionados. Sugar maple is the most durable and hence most preferred domestic woods though it is a slightly expensive one.
- Light-colored wood and darken naturally over the years into honey-gold patina due to exposure to UV light and oxygen.
- Fine uniform structure with a straight grain.
- Good rigidity and moderate durability.
- Fairly easy to work with.
- No characteristic odor.
- Commonly used in cafés and restaurants for making furniture because of its gorgeous color and texture.
- Also used in flooring (basketball courts, bowling alleys, residential) and cabinetry.
- Used in many musical instruments, benches, baseball bats, etc.
Oakwood is the most popular and often used in traditional furniture pieces as well as modern designs. This deciduous wood is primarily favorable for residential purposes.
- Appears greatly stained or with a clear natural finish.
- Highly durable.
- Comes in several hues, from light beige-to -brown and red.
- May darken slightly over time, taking on more amber tones.
- Unique grain pattern which makes it easier to recognize.
- One of the toughest woods.
- Resistant to damage.
- Excellent workability and natural beauty make it a prized hardwood for furniture making.
- Useful in flooring and cabinetry.
- The water-resistance property makes it useful for crafting things like wine barrels and boats.
- Also useful for construction, bridge building, and hydraulic engineering.
With softly colored appearance Poplar Wood is generally used for utilitarian purposes though occasionally it does make an appearance in some artisan furniture. Poplar wood is normally considered both soft and hardwoods.
- Heartwood is typically light cream to yellowish brown whereas sapwood is usually white to pale yellow.
- Straight and uniform grain.
- Incredible workability.
- Not particularly hard and naturally durable.
- High moisture content.
- Fresh wood is easier to work with than dried wood.
- Yellow Poplar is commonly used for canoes.
- Also used for crafting dinnerwares, coffins, toys, carvings, pallets, frames, and plywood.
- Seldom used for cabinetry and furniture.
Teak wood has been consistently among the most expensive materials. Since the best furniture made from teak wood comes from mature trees, it can take several years (60 Years on an average for growing) before a teak tree planted today is harvested for wood which further makes it so prized and valuable. Teak woods are mostly found in Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia.
- Presence of high oil in its structure.
- Straight grain with occasional occurrence of interlocking grain.
- Coarse and uneven texture with low to moderate natural luster level.
- High strength and flexibility during woodworking.
- High resistance to rot and weather elements.
- Low shrinkage ratio.
- Incredibly versatile material which can be used everywhere from large construction elements to small household items.
- Used in exterior and interior flooring and paneling.
- Crafting ships and boatbuilding due to high oil content and tight grain.
- Durable outdoor furniture.
Walnut wood is the most cherished material for its strength, coloring, and ability to be shaped into elaborated and intricate curves. It is one of the most versatile hardwood.
- Heartwood has lighter browns, purples, greys, or reddish tints.
- Sapwood is typically pale blonde color.
- Walnut wood lightens slightly over time. On the other hand, an oil-finished piece needs to be oiled regularly to produce richer hue over time.
- Straight grain, sometimes with curves and waves to enhance the character.
- Hard, resilient, and resistant to damage.
- Limited durability when exposed to the weather.
- Solid wood is used for furniture and musical instruments.
- Useful for interior decorations.
- Flooring and cabinetry.
- Commonly used in knick-knacks.
The Janka Hardness
The Janka hardness is a metric that measures the resistance of a wood with respect to wear and denting.
The infographic below shows the woods with their Janka hardness value.
Which wood is best-suited for woodworking and why?
While working with woods sometimes it gets a bit bewildering to pick the perfect wood suited for a particular purpose. Durability, resilience, workability, price so many things to keep in mind.
Well, for example, while making furniture durability, flexibility and versatility are the prime requirements but at the same time for outdoor furniture certain quality like moisture resistance of redwood and cedar is also very important whereas pinewood provides a specific texture and color to indoor furniture. However, oak, mahogany, cherry, etc are widely accepted for furniture making. Similarly, woods with water resistance and high oil-content like oak and walnut wood are very much in demand for crafting boats and ships. Overall, some special characteristics, along with the general suited ones and reasonable prices, are the main considerations while choosing the best-suited wood for woodworking.