When considering which types of wood to use for furniture-making, you may be presented with the choice between hardwood and softwood. Hardwood is not necessarily harder or denser, it actually has to do with the plant’s reproduction process. Hardwood trees are angiosperms—plants that produce seeds with a covering, like an apple or an acorn. Softwood tress are gymnosperms, which are plants that let their seeds fall to the ground with no covering, like pine trees. Despite these biological definitions, the hardwood/softwood terminology does make some sense. For instance, the wood from an evergreen is less dense, and most hardwoods are sturdier. That being said, many furniture-makers will choose to work with hardwoods over softwoods.
However, that is not to say that softwoods are inappropriate for furniture-making, Some common types of softwood for furniture include cedar, Douglas fir, juniper, pine, redwood, spruce, and yew.
- Cedar: Western red cedar is one of the most common softwoods used in furniture-making, and is distinguished by its reddish color. It is soft and used for projects like outdoor furniture, decks, and building exteriors, since it is a rot-resistant wood. Cedar is also moderately priced.
- Fir: Douglas fir is well-known, and commonly used for furniture-making—especially for projects that will be painted—as it is inexpensive. Moderately strong, flat sawed Douglas fir is an excellent softwood to use in cabinetry and furniture-making.
- Pine: There are many types of pine, including Ponderosa, Sugar, White, and Yellow pines. They are all relatively soft and great to use for furniture. If country or rustic styles resonate with you, then pine is a great choice.
- Redwood: Used mostly for outdoor projects, redwoods are moisture-resistant. They are soft, easy to work with, and moderately priced. A great choice or material for outdoor furniture or decking!
Need help selecting a wood for your furniture-making project? Come to Barney & Carey’s lumberyard in Avon, MA to purchase the specialty softwoods and hardwoods you need, or to talk shop with an expert craftsman who can guide you in selecting the best materials for your project.
Don’t fancy yourself a furniture-maker? Hire Barney & Carey to design and build the furniture you have in mind.