These are the trees that lose their leaves in the fall (deciduous). Among an abundant variety, only 200 are plentiful and pliable enough for woodworking. Much like our skin, hardwoods have microscopic pores on the surface. The size of these pores determines the grain pattern and texture. Because of this, hardwoods are classified by pore openings as either: Closed Grained (smaller pores) — Most popular examples: cherry and maple; Ring Porous (larger pores) — Most popular examples: oak, ash or poplar.
Softwoods come from "evergreen" trees (coniferous). Only 25 percent of all softwoods are used in woodworking. All softwoods have a closed grain (small pores) that is not very noticeable in the finished product. The most popular softwoods are cedar, fir, pine and spruce.
Heavy woods like oak are identified by their weight and tight grain pattern, and resist wear, dents and scratches better than softwoods.
This is the wood property that determines the condition of the surface and stability. It plays an important role in deciding how a wood can be finished.
Defects in wood are natural and are appreciated by many woodworkers for the unique character they contribute.
Color contributes to the personality of wood. For example, red cedar will give you a very different look and character than white pine.
Grain is the most well-known wood characteristic. Grain pertains to the wood-cell fibers' orientation. The project you are undertaking dictates the most suitable type of grain.
Lumber grades are determined by the number, location and size of defects in the board, not its strength. The clearer the wood, the higher the grade.
This is the wood's ability not to shrink or expand before or after it has been worked.
Durable woods better resist excess moisture and exposure
to the earth, where there's a greater chance of decay. Remember, no wood
will decay if it's kept dry.
Different Types of Wood