The Different Types of Wood and Their Uses

by Steve Jonathan; Updated September 26, 2017
Wood is not only used for furniture but also for manufacturing musical instruments.

Furniture wood comes from different varieties of trees, and are of different kinds. The type of wood chosen to build a certain piece on furniture would depend on the nature of the piece itself. For instance, if you’re building a bookshelf or a chair, you would have to use something that is very strong and can bear a lot of weight; however, if you are building a side table or a decorative piece, you can use something that is lightweight and good-looking.

Softwood

The term ‘softwood’ refers to wood that comes from evergreen or coniferous trees. This type of wood grows in cool climates, and are predominantly found in countries such as Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. These trees grow faster than hardwood trees, hence the wood is cheaper. This wood can be light, soft and easy to work with when compared to hardwoods. Common examples of softwood trees are pine, spruce, cedar and redwood. Today, most furniture is made using softwood.

Hardwood

Hardwoods are those that come from deciduous trees like ash, oak, teak, birch walnut and mahogany. These woods are stronger and have better texture, color and grain patterns. Furniture made from hardwoods is generally considered to be better-looking, but hardwoods can be very expensive. These woods are increasingly becoming difficult to find because these trees are being harvested at the cost of the environment. Because these woods are strong and more durable than softwood, they are used for flooring, doors and windows and heavy furniture. These woods do not bloat or absorb water easily, so the woods are also used as veneer on manufactured sheets.

Hard and Soft

The wood from the maple tree comes in two varieties: both hard and soft. Soft maple is relatively easy to work with, while hard maple is heavier and tough. Maple hardwood is easier to find than some others, because the woods are grown on commercial farms. Both soft and hard maple are better and stronger than other types of softwoods, and also less expensive than hardwoods, so the woods are a popular choice.

Other Types

There are other manufactured types of ‘wood’ or sheets like plywood. Plywood is made by pressing together various sheets of wood (either hard or soft). Other varieties of ‘manufactured’ wood are Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and Particle Boards. Both of these types are made by pressing wood particles together and bonding the sheets under pressure. Hardwoods are used on the outer side, so they can be given different looks. These sheets are used extensively in interior decoration – kitchen cupboards, shelves and cabinets.

About the Author

Steve Jonathan started professional writing in 1989. He has more than two decades of copywriting experience and has worked with publishing houses such as Penguin Group and HarperCollins. Jonathan received a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism from the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in creative writing from City University London.

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