How to Choose your Wood

Choosing the right wood for your project is important. Quality, strength, resistance to splitting, color, cost and grade are all important. To narrow down the options, use this guide to help you get closer to the wood that is perfect for your project.

First, decide what you’re going to build. If you’re building a piece of furniture that will need to take a load or withstand bumping and scratching, you will need to use a hard wood. Oak is a popular choice for dressers, tables, cabinets and other household furniture, because it stains nice, has a lot of strength, is readily available, and doesn’t cost a fortune. Maple is another really popular choice for these types of items.

Soft woods are better for carving projects. Pine is popular because it’s inexpensive, easy to come by, easy to carve and sand, and is sturdy enough for shelves and things of that nature. Pine can dent if it’s bumped with something hard and it’s too soft to be a good writing surface. However, some people choose it for its rustic look and think that the dents and dings give it character and style. Poplar is another soft wood that is popular for projects like these.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of outdoor furniture is made from teak? This is because teak wood has natural oils that protect it from the elements. You may not be able to stain or varnish it, but it has a lovely natural color that many people prefer anyway.

Actual “hardwood” comes from trees that lose their leaves in the fall. “Softwood” comes from coniferous trees, or ones with needles. In general, hardwoods have a very defined wood grain and softwoods may not have a discernible grain at all. Some softwoods, like cedar, have properties that make them a very good choice for certain projects. Although soft, cedar is aromatic and absorbs moisture. This makes it very desirable for closet shelves and wooden hangers. Cedar deodorizes the air, prevents mildew and mold from forming, and repels insects.

Make sure that you ask about grade when purchasing your wood. Woods that are commonly stocked in home improvement stores are generally not the best for building furniture and other items that you want to last. Lower grade woods have more knots, split more easily, and are generally not suitable for a big project. When making joints, make sure that you choose a high grade of dowels and pegs, and specifically ask for a hardwood dowel or hardwood peg to compliment your project.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit for all of your wood product needs.

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