Picking Hardwoods for Woodworking Projects


Hardwoods are staple materials for any woodworker. If you’re working on a fine woodworking project like making furniture, you’d know that the word “hardwood” is sometimes deceiving.

Hardwoods refer to the species of the tree which your timber was harvested from, and has less to do with its “hardness”.

Hardwoods belong to different families of broad-leaved, deciduous trees. In contrast with this, softwoods are taken from the evergreen varieties.

Generally speaking, hardwoods are usually harder than softwoods, although there are always few exceptions (balsa wood, for example, is known for being light and soft, yet it’s still categorized as a hardwood).

Most species of hardwood lose their leaves when winter comes, and generally they offer a wider variety of colors as well as textures compared to common softwoods.

So, how do you pick hardwoods for woodworking projects?

Perhaps you’d agree with the fact that picking a type of wood is oftentimes the hardest part in making a project. To make choosing easier, start by determining how you’d like the project to be finished. Are you staining or painting it?

If you are going to paint it, you don’t need spend so much on varieties which are known for their rich color when stained. As a rule, avoid oak, mahogany walnut, or maple species which have rich colors. Poplar and other species of lightly-shaded wood can be a better option if you’re going to paint the project.

However, if you’ll be staining and putting a clear coat on your work, you should consider a few things. Local home depots may carry only a few hardwood varieties like red oak or poplar so it’s better if you spend more time with your local suppliers and check for the available varieties.

If you’re unsure, feel free to ask your supplier about the wood you’re interested in because they’ll surely help you understand how each of those species will look once they’re finished. For sure, this can help you in coming up with a decision.

As Always: Location, Location, Location

Yes, it’s cliché but the location of your final installation is another thing to consider when choosing hardwoods for woodworking projects. Although it wouldn’t have much weight if you’ll only make indoor furniture, you should consider getting moisture-resistant types like cypress or even teak for outdoor pieces.

If you’re choosing a type of wood for outdoor projects and you only have a few in your local store, be sure to avoid varieties like the red oak since it has open grains that make it porous and easily traps moisture in.

After reading all of this and you feel like you need a better picture on what to buy, it is always best to go to your local wood supplier to get a better idea on how you should be choosing your hardwood.

Hardwoods for Woodworking Projects