Differences in Wood Types for Woodworking

Different types of wood present different types of challenges in woodworking.  Different species of trees consist of varying types of wood grain and wood fibers.  This results in varying degrees of fragility.  Wood splits are common in woodworking.  Wood splits in the direction that the fibers grow.  When the fibers separate, the fiber matrix weakens and can result in devastating splits.  Woodworkers need to choose the kind of wood that they are going to use for a project based on the types of tools that will be utilized and the degrees of cuts that they will make.  They should also consider the durability requirements of the final product before selecting a wood.

Many splits and gauges can be avoided by using sharp tools.  Sharp tools also aid in making woodworking safer.  When cutting, you should work slowly until you are very familiar with how the wood reacts to being manipulated.  The wood can feel and react differently to cuts depending on which direction you are working.  The direction of the grain, knots, and rings can all change the dynamics of working with the piece.

Learning to work with the inconsistencies in different kinds of wood will enable you to progress and use the right types of wood for your projects.  This is part of the draw for woodworkers.  No matter how simple the project is, there are still challenges that can be overcome with skill and experience.  Woodworking often becomes a life-long hobby because every project is unique.  Your personal touch and style can be put into anything that you make.

Humidity and temperature can affect any piece of wood, so it is advised that you work in an indoor temperature controlled area if possible.  This will help you learn how the wood is going to act and make woodworking safer for you.  You won’t have to worry as much about the wood changing or warping from one day to the next, causing the need to adjust your style according to the temperature and humidity each day.

Wood can be classified as hardwood or softwood.  The given classification can be misleading, because some hardwoods, like balsa and basswood, are actually fairly soft.  There are soft hardwoods and hard softwoods.  Technically, hardwoods come from angiosperm trees and softwoods come from conifer trees.

Hardwoods are most commonly used for building furniture, musical instruments, construction, and flooring because of their density and resistance to splitting and damage.  Softwoods are used for pulp, paper, carving, and millwork, but are also commonly used in furniture.  There may be a combination of woods used for the same project because of the unique requirements of each piece of the project.

For example, you can purchase hardwood or softwood dowels for joining two pieces together.  A softwood dowel joint is very strong and can be cheaper than a hardwood dowel, so softwood dowels are most commonly used.  However, if the dowels will be used as spindles or visible portions of the project, you may elect to use the same type of wood as was used on the rest of the project so that the grain and color are consistent.


Dave Murphy
About the Author:

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio.  Good Wood, Inc. makes dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import dowels from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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