Choosing Hardwood or Softwood

Different project require different types of wood but when you are starting a project that is one of the first things that you have to choose.  Good quality woods don’t come cheap but they will give you the best results.  A handmade wood project can last for years which is one of the reasons wood can be so expensive.  If you are building a piece for a client then you both need to decide what wood suits your project best, choosing hardwood or softwood, dark or light will all be part of the project.  Let’s look at the different types of wood you can choose from.


Softwoods come from trees like pine, cedar, spruce, juniper, redwood, cypress and larch trees.  Mostly you will see this type of wood in furniture and a variety of other woodworking projects.  This type of wood tends to be cheaper than most hardwoods and it is readily available at any lumber or craft store.  Some woods like pine are really soft and can be a little delicate for some projects.  If you are working with a client have them look at the different softwoods available before they make their choice.


Hardwood is another material that can be used in your projects.  You get hardwood from trees like oak, walnut, cherry, oak, maple, teak, beech, holly and ash.  Hardwoods are much more durable and sturdy than any softwoods, but not all of them.  Be careful what type of wood that you choose, ideally you want the best wood suited to your project.  Hardwood is not going to be cheap, so make sure you are ready to work with this type of material.  You do not want to waste expensive wood because of mistake.  You will find hardwoods used a lot in furniture particularly kitchen tables or anything that needs a durable wood.

How Much Wood do You Need

Check your project plans to see how much wood that you are going to need.  Always measure the timber before you whip out your credit card you don’t want to buy a piece that is too short.  Check with the sales staff and find out if the wood has been dried or not, ideally you want dried wood.  They type of wood you end up choosing is going to be based on taste, need and of course the price.  Select your wood carefully and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Evaluating Different Types of Wood

When you start new woodworking projects, there are a couple of things that you are going to need.  You are going to need a plan, the right tools, and most importantly, you are going to need some wood.  There are quite literally hundreds of different types of wood that you can use in your project going from the very cheap to exotic woods that will cost you thousands of dollars.  Evaluating different types of wood can be challenging if you’re new to woodworking, so let’s show you to do just that.

Get What You Like

First and foremost, don’t purchase wood that you’re not crazy about.  Don’t feel you need to compromise on either quality or style when it comes to your projects.  When you visit a lumberyard or even a craft store, the salespeople may pressure you to buy what they want to sell you rather than what you might want.  On the other hand, many of the people that work here are relatively knowledgeable, and they may have reason to suggest a different type of wood. Carefully look at each piece of wood, and whether it meets your specs, if it doesn’t, you can ask for something different.  It is up to you what piece of wood you want and ultimately buys.

What to Look For

You want to sift through each piece of wood to make sure it is straight.  You can work with wood that has some curves, but that will take some experience before you are ready to handle that.  You are also going to need to search for splits or warped wood; you want to look at each side and check out the edges.  The last thing you want to do is by an expensive but useless piece of wood.  If there are cracks or splits, you won’t be able to use it, or it will look awful.

Knotholes are another thing you want to check for, now knotholes are naturally occurring and can add character to a piece, but you want to check with your plans first.  Some plans don’t work well with knots.  If you are building something that is going to be staying outside like a bench or a picnic table, then you want to make sure that you have treated lumber.

If you are new to wood woodworking, then spruce and pine are good beginner woods, they are considered softwood and easier to work with.  Once you have the experience, then you can move up to cedar or oak. I have managed to network with Tree Service Keller, and the owner provides me with some good choices. It’s a Win-Win because they have to dispose of the Tree cuttings anyway.