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Choosing the Best Wood for Your Woodworking Project


Choosing the right wood for your wood working project is a vital first step in the process. The type and quality of the wood chosen will greatly impact the end product. What is the best choice for the project you wish to complete? Is it softwood or hardwood? Here is a discussion of popular wood types among both categories of wood.



The name softwood seems to suggest that the material is weaker than hardwood, which is not necessarily true. Softwoods grow faster and straighter than hardwoods. As a result, they are far more common, less expensive, and make up a large portion of the stock of most lumberyards or home improvement stores.


When wood is marked SPF, it can be spruce, pine (white) or fir. These three woods share characteristics and can be used interchangeably in most construction projects. Pine (yellow) is utilitarian softwood good for general purposes. Common wood working projects for pine are shop cabinets, basic furnishings and painted projects. Need to build some storage for your many tools or a house for the cute little finch that spends time in your backyard? SPF lumber or yellow pine are great choices.



Hardwoods are considerably more expensive than softwoods. When you are looking for a high quality stainable end product, they are the best choice.


Oak comes in many types and is widely used in furniture building. It is very durable, easy to work with and isn’t overly heavy or light. Maple is another popular choice for furniture projects. It gives a distinctive finish but can offer challenges when applying finish.


Cherry and mahogany are fantastic choices for fine furniture, architectural projects and decorative finishes. These woods are quite expensive, so are generally used by the most skilled woodworkers.


Since most wood working projects require a big investment of your time and effort, it is important to carefully select your materials.