Most Common Woodtypes

In order to do a good job, you need to determine what kind of wood fits the best for your project. In this article, we brought you an overview of most common woodtypes and their use.4 min


Hardwoods

Red Oak

Uses: Indoor furniture, trim, flooring, plywood and veneers

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight, wide grain pattern with larger pores. Tan to reddish pink in color. Quarter sawing reveals narrow medullary rays.

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits. Not prone to burning when machined. Drill pilot holes first for nails or screws.

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well, but pores wall show through if painted unless they are filled

Price: Moderate

White Oak

Uses: Indoor and outdoor furniture, trim, flooring, plywood and veneers

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight, wide grain pattern, tan with yellow to cream tints. Quarter sawing reveals wide medullary rays. Naturally resistant to deterioration from UV sunlight, insects and moisture.

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits. Not prone to burning when machined. Drill pilot holes first for nails or screws.

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes like red oak, but narrower pores reduce the need for filling

Price: Moderate to expensive

Hard Maple

Uses: Indoor furniture, trim, flooring, butcher block countertops, instruments, plywood’s and veneers

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight, wide grain with occasional bird’s eye or fiddle- back figure. Blonde heart wood.

Workability: Difficult to machine without carbide blades and bits. Dull blades wall leave bums.

Finishing: Takes clear finishes well, but staining may produce blotches

Price: Moderate to expensive, depending on figure

Cherry

Uses: Indoor furniture, cabinetry, carving, turning, plywood and veneers

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Fine grain pattern with smooth texture. Wood continues to darken as it ages and is exposed to sunlight.

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades but is more prone to machine bums

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well

Price: Moderate

Walnut

Uses: Indoor furniture, cabinets, musical instruments, clocks, boat-building, carving

Sources: Eastern United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight, fine grain. Moderately heavy. Color ranges from dark brown to purple or black.

Workability: Cuts and drills easily with sharp tools without burning Finishing: Takes natural finishes beautifully

Price: Moderate

Birch

Uses: Kitchen utensils, toys, dowels, trim, plywood and veneers

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight grain with fine texture and tight pores.

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits. Good bending properties. Drill pilot holes first for nails or screws.

Finishing: Takes finishes well, but penetrating wood stains may produce blotching

Price: Inexpensive to moderate

Hickory

Uses: Sporting equipment, handles for striking tools, furniture, plywood and veneers

Sources: Southeastern United States

Characteristics: Straight to wavy grained with coarse texture. Excellent shock-resistance.

Workability: Bends well, but lumber hardness will dull steel blades and bits quickly. Resists machine burning.

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well

Prices: Inexpensive where regionally available

Aspen

Uses: A secondary wood used for drawer boxes, cleats, runners and other hidden structural furniture components. Crafts.

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Indistinguishable, tight grain pattern

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits.

Finishing: Better suited for painting than staining. Tight grain provides smooth, paintable surface.

Price: Inexpensive

White Ash

Uses: Furniture, boat oars, baseball bats, handles for striking tools, pool cues, veneers

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight, wide grain pattern with coarse texture. Hard and dense with excellent shock-resistance.

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits. Drill pilot holes first for nails or screws. “Green” ash often used for steam bending.

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well

Price: Inexpensive

Poplar

Uses: Secondary wood for furniture and cabinetry, similar to aspen. Carving, veneers and pulp for paper.

Sources: United States

Characteristics: Fine-textured with straight, wide grain pattern. Tan to gray or green in color.

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits. Not prone to burning when machined. Drill pilot holes first for nails or screws.

Finishing: Better suited for painting than staining. Tight grain provides smooth, paintable surface.

Price: Inexpensive

Softwoods

White Pine

Uses: Indoor furniture, plywood, veneers and trim, construction lumber

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight grain with even texture and tight pores

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits. Not prone to burning when machined. Lower resin content than other pines, so cutting edges stay cleaner longer.

Finishing: Stains may blotch without using a stain controller first. Takes dear finishes and paints well.

Price: Inexpensive

Western Red Cedar

Uses: Outdoor furniture, exterior millwork, interior and exterior siding

Sources: United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight, variable grain pattern with coarse texture. Lower density and fairly light-weight. Saw and sanding dust can be a respiratory irritant. Naturally resistant to deterioration from UV sunlight, insects and moisture.

Workability: Soft composition machines easily but end grain is prone to splintering and tear-out

Finishing: Takes stains and dear finishes well, but oils in wood can bleed through painted finishes unless primer is applied first

Price: Inexpensive to moderate where regionally available

Aromatic Cedar (Tennessee)

Uses: Naturally-occurring oils seem to repel moths, making this wood a common closet and chest lining. Also used for veneers and outdoor furniture.

Sources: Eastern United States and Canada

Characteristics: Straight to wavy grain pattern with fine texture. Red to tan in color with dramatic streaks of yellow’s and creams. Distinct aroma emitted when machined, and dust can be a respiratory irritant.

Workability: Machines similarly to western red cedar

Finishing: Takes stains and dear finishes well

Price: Inexpensive

Redwood

Uses: Outdoor furniture, decks and fences, siding

Source: West coast of United States

Characteristics: Straight, fine grain with few knots or blemishes. Relatively tight weight. Reddish brown with cream-colored sapwood. Naturally resistant to deterioration from UV sunlight, insects and moisture.

Workability: Machines and sands easily

Finishing: Takes stains and dear finishes well

Price: Moderate to expensive and not widely available in ail nominal dimensions

Cypress

Uses: Exterior siding and boat building. Interior and exterior trim, beams, flooring, cabinetry and paneling.

Source: Mississippi delta region of the United States

Characteristics: Straight, even grain pattern with low resin content. Naturally resistant to deterioration from UV sunlight, insects and moisture.

Workability: Machines and sands easily

Finishing: Takes stains and dear finishes well

Price: Inexpensive where regionally available

Exotic wood types

Padauk

Uses: Indoor furniture, cabinetry, flooring, turning, veneer

Source: West Africa

Characteristics: Coarse texture, straight interlocked grain

Workability: Machines easily with sharp steel or carbide blades and bits

Finishing: Takes stains and dear finishes well

Price: Moderate to expensive

Zebrawood

Uses: Turning, inlay, decorative veneers, furniture and cabinetry

Source: West Africa

Characteristics: Interlocked, light and dark variegated grain pattern

Workability: Somewhat difficult to machine. Use carbide blades and bits

Finishing: Can be difficult to stain evenly

Price: Expensive

Wenge

Uses: Inlay, turning, decorative veneers

Source: Equatorial Africa

Characteristics: Hard, dense straight grain with coarse texture. Heavy.

Workability: Dulls steel blades and bits quickly, so carbide cutters are recommended. Drill pilot holes for screws and nails.

Finishing: Pores should be filled before finish is applied

Price: Moderate

Honduras Mahagony

Uses: Indoor and outdoor furniture, veneers and trim, boat-building

Sources: Central and South America

Characteristics: Straight, interlocked fine grain. Dimensionally stable.

Workability: Machines well with carbide blades and bits

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well

Price: Moderate

Purpleheart

Uses: Pool cues, decorative inlay, veneers, indoor and outdoor furniture.

Sources: Central and South America

Characteristics: Straight grain with coarse texture

Workability: Gum deposits in the wood make it difficult to machine; cutting edges dull quickly

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well.

Price: Moderate

Teak

Uses: Boat-building, indoor and outdoor furniture, veneers, flooring

Sources: Southeast Asia, Africa, Caribbean

Characteristics: Straight grain with oily texture. Dense and hard.

Workability: High silica content will dull steel blades and bits quickly. Oily surfaces require cleaning with mineral spirits first or glue will not bond.

Finishing: Takes oil finishes well

Price: Expensive

Rosewood

Uses: Inlays, turning, veneers, cabinetry, furniture, musical instruments

Sources: Southern India

Characteristics: Interlocked grain with medium to coarse texture

Workability: Dense structure dulls cutting edges quickly

Finishing: Takes stains and clear finishes well

Price: Expensive


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