How To Choose And Use The Right Wood For Your Project

If is easy to get confused at the beginning of a carpentry project. Selecting the right wood can be complicated and with so much information out there, it is hard to determine which wood is right for you and your particular project. There are over one thousand types of trees just in the United States with about one hundred of them usable for woodworking. Consider these factors when choosing your wood.

First, you should understand that wood falls into one of two categories. There is hardwood and there is softwood. Beyond that, there are other characteristics that you should consider that are a part of all wood but to varying degrees. However, by simply understanding the differences between hardwoods and softwoods, you have half the battle won when it comes to choosing and using the right wood for your project.

A hardwood is one that comes from deciduous trees. That is, trees that lose their leaves in the fall. There are about two hundred hardwoods that are appropriate for woodworking by being plentiful and pliable enough. Hardwood is characterized by actually having pores on the surface, not unlike human skin. The size of the pores is what determines the grain of the wood. For instance, those with smaller pores are called closed grain and include maple and cherry woods. On the other hand, you have ring porous hardwoods like oak and poplar. As a rule, hardwoods do not dent, chip, or scratch as easily as softwoods. That is the key in deciding which type is best for your project.

Softwoods, on the other hand, are completely different. Softwoods come from evergreen or coniferous trees. These are the pines and “Christmas tree” type trees you see in the northwest and mountainous areas. Only about one quarter of all evergreen trees are suitable for woodworking. Unlike hardwoods, though, all softwoods have closed grains. That means that when your project is done, the grain is likely going to be almost unnoticeable to the eye. Perhaps the most popular examples of softwoods used in woodworking are pine, cedar, and fir, however; there are a number of others as well.

So when deciding what wood to use for your project, you should consider a couple of the factors you see with hard and softwoods. For one, remember that a hard wood will have a more recognizable grain if you use something that is ring porous. Additionally, the hardwood will not scratch or dent as easily, but it is more expensive. Your softwoods, will cost less, scratch a little easier, but not show a lot of grain. The choice is yours, then, depending on your project.

As you can see, choosing and using the right wood for your project is not difficult once you know the facts. When you understand the differences between types of woods, the choices become clearer. So, the next time you take on a project, sit down and consider which type of wood is right for you to use and choose.

WARNING: Make sure that you use the proper precautions when dealing with any type of tools or power tools to prevent injuries. Make sure that you wear the proper safety equipment to prevent injuries or illnesses due to working with wood or wood products.