Different Types Of Wood

A discussion on different types of wood available and their special uses in different areas of carpentry.

Which wood would you choose? When attempting to complete a wood project you must be careful of your choice of wood. Numerous species take on different characteristics. All are composed of 60% cellulose and 28% lignin. These substances make up the fibrous and woody cell walls of plants and trees and are held together by cementing properties. The individual consistencies and colors are the elements remaining of about 12%. Other characteristics are due to the way that the wood is sawed and cured. There are hardwoods from deciduous trees and softwoods from coniferous trees.

There are two basic wood grades. Select lumber is excellent quality for use when appearance and finishing are important and common lumber that has defects used for construction and general-purpose projects. The grades of the select lumber are: B and Better grade, which has minute or no blemishes; C Select grade which has some minor defects such as small knots; D select grade that has larger imperfections, which can be concealed by paint. The grades of common lumber are No. 1 grade containing tight knots and few blemishes. No. 2 grade that has more and larger knots and blemishes. No. 3 grade that has loose knots, knotholes, and other flaws. No. 4 grade that is low quality and No. 5 grade where the appearance is not important. The following are species, their characteristics and best uses taken from Readers Digest.


Mahogany: Fine grained, reddish brown in color. Very durable and resists swelling shrinking, and warping. Used for quality furniture such as cabinets; boat construction; wood facings and veneers.

Walnut: Fine textured, strong, easy to work with and resists shrinking and warping and finishes well. Best used for gunstocks, solid and veneered furniture, novelties, cabinetry and wall paneling.

Oak: Strong with good bending qualities. Is durable and finishes well and resists moisture absorption. Used for furniture, trimming, boat framing, desks and flooring.

Maple: Fine textured and is fine textures. It is strong and hard. Has moderate shrinkage and machines well. Best used in flooring, fine furniture and woodenware such as bowling alleys.

Cherry: Close-grained and resists warping and shrinking. It will redden when exposed to sunlight and ages well. Used in cabinet making, boat trim, novelties, solid furniture handles and turned projects.

Rosewood: Very hard and has a dark reddish brown color. It is fragrant and close grained. It is hard to work and takes high polish. Used in musical instruments, piano cases, tool handles, art projects, veneers and furniture.

Teak: Hard and durable and resistant the moisture and rot. It resists warping, cracking and decay. Best used in fine furniture, paneling, shipbuilding, doors, window framing, flooring and general construction.


Pine: It has uniform texture, works easy and finishes well. It resists shrinkage, swelling and warping. Used in house construction, paneling and trim. Also used for furniture, molding and boxes.

Hemlock: Light in weight, uniformly textured. It machines well and has low resistance to decay and nonresinous. Used for construction lumber, planks, doors, boards, paneling, sub flooring and crates.

Fir: Works easy and finishes well. Uniform in texture and nonresinous. Has low resistance to decay. Used in furniture, doors, frames, windows, plywood, veneer, general millwork and interior trim.

Redwood: Light in weight, durable and easy to work. Has a natural resistance to decay. Used in outdoor furniture, fencing, house siding, interior finishing, veneering and paneling.

Spruce: Strong and hard. Finishes well and has low resistance to decay. Has moderate shrinkage and light in weight. Used for masts and spars for ships, aircraft, crates, boxes, general millwork and ladders.

Cedar: Fresh sweet odor and reddish in color. Easy to work and uniform in texture and is resistant to decay. Used in chest making, closet lining, shingles, posts, dock planks, novelties and Venetian blinds.

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