Choosing the best wood species for your project goes a long way toward ensuring success.
Different species naturally lend themselves better to the types of machining required for a project, as well as the overall look. For example, project parts that incorporate decorative edge profiles may be easier to shape using softwood, but ultimately harder, more straight-grained wood will stand up better over time.
Cost and local availability are also important determining factors. If you’re building outdoors, cedar is generally an inexpensive wood choice in the Upper Midwest, but on the West Coast redwood is typically more economical, and in the South you’ll likely save money by building with cypress.
When choosing wood pay particular attention to the tone of the wood when a finish is applied. To get a good idea what the finished color will be, simply dampen a small section of planed board with mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol.
WALNUT has rich, dark tones when top-coated. Grain is relatively straight. Moderately easy to work. Moderate to expensive.
MAPLE is a light-colored hardwood with straight, tight grain. Hardness makes it durable, but somewhat difficult to work. Inexpensive to moderate.
ASH is a readily available, inexpensive hardwood. It’s color and grain are not distinguishing, but it can be finished to replicate more expensive hardwoods.
RED OAK is one of the more inexpensive and prevalent wood species in today’s marketplace. Has dramatic grain figure and warm red color. Fairly easy to work.
CHERRY has a deep, reddish brown color when finished (color varies greatly between heartwood and sapwood). It is hard and tends to be brittle. Occasionally splotchy when finished. Moderate to expensive.
PINE is a very general species term used to refer to most coniferous softwood. It ranges from white to yellow according to species. Generally easy to work with strong grain patterns. Inexpensive to moderate.
WHITE OAK is a versatile hardwood with a distinctive appearance. Used extensively in furniture-building, as well as in boat-building. it is moderate in price (quarter-sawn tends to be higher cost). Moderate workability.
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Choosing The Correct Wood for your Project
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