With so many different types of wood out there, which should I use in my woodworking projects? As much as you probably hate hearing this, it is going to depend on a variety of factors.
Many individuals start out by using whatever lumber they can get their hands on, and whatever is available to them. Especially the beginner. It doesn’t matter to them as much as the end results do. And we understand that. The main thing that draws individuals to woodworking is the projects themselves as well as the outcome. But once you get some experience under your belt, you start having an interest in the different varieties of lumber stock available.
This is because once you view a number of different products that others have made such as in magazines, online, etc.. You see they will use a variety of lumber themselves.
The different lumbers have differing grain patterns, strengths, weaknesses, and colors. And due to this, one project can look and feel different from the next. It also can have a bearing on if you can use it indoors or outside, what it will smell like, and more.
Let’s take a look at oak. It is used in shelving and cabinets because of the strength and hardiness of it. It won’t dent like softer woods when accidently bumped or scratched. So in the kitchen, or holding up weight, it is good to use.
But oak does have its drawbacks. You can’t use it for exterior projects because it will rot. When running oak stock, it is harder on your tools and you have to go slower with it than softer materials. It also can be heavier. Usually a better grade of oak can be (but not always) harder to stain because it isn’t as porous as say cypress or cedar. And it also is more prone to have spots in in that are harder in places than others, so the finish could vary from one piece of lumber to another.
Cypress is a great exterior wood. It is porous so because of it a finish will soak in well and evenly. For outdoor furniture such as benches, tables, and chairs, it does well because it will hold up. It is bug resistant in addition. You will also find that it can be more colorful, with orange, red, blue, as well as other hues of color in it.
The drawbacks though are it is softer than oak and pine. It isn’t as readily available, usually having to get it from the lowest southern states like Louisiana, certain parts of Texas, and Alabama. Much of the time you have to get it from an actual mill, because even in those states you don’t just find it at your local hardware store.
Pine is common all over the United States, so it is easier to get your hands on. It isn’t as hard as oak is, especially today because the lumber mills use the quick grow hybrid pine trees more than any other – and they are a lot softer than the virgin pine of yesteryear. It is a great interior wood though, and has a decent grain pattern as well. But it doesn’t have any exterior properties and the pine of today will definitely rot away quickly if left outside.
The same is with Cedar, it is available in just certain areas, and red cedar is even harder to find. Red cedar can come with a ton of knots. Some like knots and some don’t. Cedar is bug resistant and rot resistant like cypress, but especially when it comes to red cedar, it has a great smell that most love. But it is softer than cypress, and so doesn’t have the strength that other woods do.
There are many other types of wood that you can get access to such as fir, red oak, treated pine, redwood, ash, and birch. Each of these has different grain patterns and softness/hardness to it. You have to see them and work with them in order to know which you prefer the best.
Your exotic woods can be beautiful in appearance. African Blackwood and African Mahogany, Amboyna Burl, Austian Spruce, Bolivian Rosewood, and Claro Walnut are just a few of the different lumber types from different countries.
The costs of these exotic woods are usually going to be much higher because of having to be shipped in. That is, unless you live in the countries that they are from. And they still will be higher in price because of the availablility.
Either way, there are varying properties, grain patterns, colors, and other attributes and drawbacks to any wood type. But that is what makes woodworking so great right? You have not only a variety of projects that you can design and build, but also a large variety of lumber that you can pull from to make them unique and different from each other.
DO YOU HAVE a woodworking project or tip that you would like to submit to WooDesigner and get it added to our site? Then go to the contact tab below OR at the top of this page and let me know. Just make sure you are able to give us step by step instructions on it, as well as images as you see here, and we will put it on this site just like you have read on this page! As long as it is clear and concise like you just saw, it will go up. Your name will be credited to the project, as where you live. (Please include that.) Also include the type of lumber you use for the design. We look forward to hearing from you! (Take note that the tip and images and instructions have to become ours. I do hate that so much but in today’s society so many will sue, and yes, you can sue for a lot of money over images.) The tips will need to include YOUR IMAGES that you take. They can’t be images from somewhere online. Remember, we have to go through these images and if they aren’t your own, we will not be able to use them. This is illegal and it won’t be tolerated and you will be banned from this community by being blocked. We can get sued for this, and just one bad apple can ruin our community.
Ted Leger –
Comments or questions are welcome.