Types of Wood: Tips for Choosing the Right Wood for Your Woodcraft Projects

Woodworking is one of the most popular crafts and helps you create stunning items. Wood projects can be fun and rewarding to make, but they also add a touch of beauty and sophistication to any space. But to get the best results from your woodworking project, you need to choose the right type of wood for it.

Many types of wood are available for craft projects, so knowing which will work best with your project is important. In this article, we’ll explore different types of wood used in woodcraft projects and examine what characteristics make certain wood more suitable than others for various uses.

What are the Different Types of Woods for Woodcraft Projects?

Before implementing your crafting ideas with wood, you should understand the two main categories when choosing wood for your project; hardwood and softwood.

Hardwoods come from deciduous trees that lose their leaves yearly, such as oak, maple, or walnut, while softwoods come from evergreen coniferous trees like pine, cedar, or spruce. Each has its own unique properties that make them better suited to certain projects, so let’s take a look.


Hardwood comes from deciduous trees. They have broad leaves, are mainly used to produce fruits or nuts, and are dormant during winter. Some of these trees include:

  • Oak

Oak is a sturdy hardwood with an attractive grain pattern that varies greatly depending on how it is cut. Oak comes in two colors, white and red. And white is ideal for furniture as it’s attractive.

Oak is ideal for making furniture pieces, such as cabinets. It also has excellent strength, making it suitable for construction, flooring, and roofing.

Many people prefer oak during their woodworking projects because it is resistant to moisture and warping. And it has a wavy grain which can be highlighted with a clear finish. This enhances the aesthetic appeal of your furniture. 

  • Maple

Maple is generally less expensive than other hardwoods due to its availability and abundance. However, its tight grain pattern warrants more care during finishing. It tends to chip if pressure isn’t applied evenly during sanding or staining.

Maple has a light color ideal for making subtle design features stand out without overwhelming lighter-colored interiors. This makes maple ideal for furniture, flooring, and cabinets. It is also used to make instruments such as guitars and drums.  

  • Walnut

Walnut boasts stunning dark shades ranging from mocha browns to deep purples adding warmth and richness wherever used. This hardwood has a straight grain pattern with a smooth texture, which makes staining easier. Besides walnuts, natural oils give added protection against water damage making this another excellent choice for furniture pieces, especially for your outdoors, such as garden benches.                       

It can also make musical instruments, such as violins and guitars. And in some rare cases, it is used to make guns due to its ability to absorb shock. 

  • Mahogany

Mahogany boast of red hues. It is soft and has a straight grain with a medium texture, making it easy to work. It is resistant to rotting and decay, thus ensuring that the furniture pieces made from this hardwood are long-lasting.

Besides, mahogany’s high oil content helps protect against moisture, ensuring long-lasting life irrespective of the weather condition. Mahogany is expensive and rare to find.  

  • Hickory

Hickory offers superior strength. However, its wavy grain makes it challenging to work with. A plus is the items made from hickory are relatively lightweight, allowing easier movement.

Hickory has a rustic feel, thus suitable for making rustic furniture. It has also been used to make parts of wagon wheel hubs. 

  • Cherry

Cherry is popular among woodworkers as it is easy to conduct finishing and staining. Cherry hues are white for the sapwood and reddish-brown for the heartwood. It is quite similar to mahogany due to its hardness and easy to work with.

Cherry is among the most expensive hardwood due to its eco-friendly harvesting nature. It has a slightly wavy grain that ages well. It can be used for indoor construction and furniture.


They are also referred to as conifers; instead of leaves, they have needles. The best softwoods for your woodworking projects include:

  • Pine

Pinewood is the most common and inexpensive softwood in the market. It is durable and highly sustainable. The colors range from yellow to white. Pine has a tight grain that allows for detailed carving or etching projects. Pine is also much lighter than hardwood, making it easier to move around when needed.

And since pine trees don’t take long to mature, they are readily available in the market. It’s the best wood for beginners and can be used indoors and outdoors. However, it would be best to treat it outdoors to protect against weather elements. 

  • Cedar

Different types of cedar are available for woodworking projects, with western red cedar being the favorite. It is reddish and soft with a straight grain, making it easy to work with.

Cedar has an aromatic smell that makes it a delight to work with. And its scents helps ward off moth and other pests. It’s best used to make storage chests and closets.

Cedar is also very resistant to rot, decay, and mildew, thanks to its high oil content. It is also lightweight, making it perfect for outdoor furniture like planters. Cedar is also ideal for fencing, patio deck, and furniture. However, please refrain from using it in the kitchen or other places that come into contact with your skin, as the natural oils can irritate the skin. 

  • Redwood Tree

Redwood trees are native only to the western US states. Redwood trees provide the best lumber and are highly durable even in extreme weather conditions.  

The wood’s straight grains make it possible for woodworkers to cut and create any shape they want. Redwood trees are moisture-resistant, making them ideal for outdoor projects.

It can be used to build decks and make garden borders, tables, veneers, and cabinets. 

  • Spruce

Spruce’s light color provides various uses for sculpting cabinetry and other interior design pieces. This softwood is not resistant to moisture unless treated. Therefore, it’s not ideal for outdoor furniture.

The trees also make musical instruments with superb acoustic properties, such as guitars and pianos. You can also use it to spruce your house by framing interior walls.

Reclaimed Wood

This wood is salvaged from old buildings and other wooden structures. Reclaimed wood has become increasingly popular due to its ability to give a project added character and charm.

It’s also an environmentally friendly choice since it helps reduce the need for new lumber. Most reclaimed wood tends to be more durable due to its age and abundant history, thus adding character to your project.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF is another popular option for a lightweight yet sturdy material suitable for furniture like shelves, study tables, and cabinets. They produce dust when sawing, so wear a mask and work goggles.

What are the Characteristics of the Best Wood for Woodworking Projects? 

When selecting wood for your crafts project, various characteristics should be considered to ensure you are choosing the right wood species for the job at hand; these include:

Strength: You must choose strong and sturdy wood for your woodworking projects, such as maple and mahogany.

Durability: Choosing wood resistant to rot, decay, and insects is best. It should also be moisture-resistant. Cedar and redwood are ideal as they contain natural oils.

Appeal: Choose the wood that enhances the appearance of the item you are working on. Walnut and cherry possess warm tones that give the furniture piece elegance. On the other hand, maple and birch trees have light and natural tones, making them ideal for modern and minimalistic designs.

What is the difference between hardwood and softwood

Hardwoods are generally denser than softwoods and, therefore, stronger making them ideal for heavier items such as cabinets or table legs where strength is important.

They tend to have higher oil content, making them resistant to moisture damage and protecting against pests, rot, and decay. This ensures that they remain in good condition. Hardwoods are also visually attractive, thanks to various colors and grain patterns.

Softwoods offer many advantages over hardwoods due to their lighter weight, allowing large bulky items to move around the house. Softwoods are also usually less expensive and come in greater abundance than hardwoods. Besides, softer grains allow intricate and detailed carvings and etching.

Hardwood is Used for Making?

Hardwoods are generally used for more substantial furniture, cabinets, and table legs since they offer greater strength and durability than softwoods. Because of their attractive grain patterns are also often used in decorative woodworking projects like carvings, engravings, and marquetry.

Softwood is Ideal for Making? 

Softwoods are ideal for making lightweight pieces such as shelves or smaller tables that don’t require excessive support.

Softwoods can be easily stained and take paint well, making them perfect for simple finishing touches around the house. They’re also great for creating intricate designs since their softer grains allow finer detailing when carving or etching with precision tools.

The best part about you can have your kids do woodcraft activities, as they have immense benefits, including creativity and hand & eye coordination. You can make many items with your kids, including wooden fish toys and eggs. Softwood is the best as it’s easy to cut and carve into different shapes.

Tips For Selecting the Best Wood For Your Wood Working Project

When deciding on which type of wood to use, it’s important to consider a few things first:

Project Purpose:

What will you be using the item for? Is it going to hold heavier objects and need extra protection from moisture? All these factors play into choosing between hardwood and softwood.                                        


Are you planning on displaying your piece indoors or outdoors? Some woods are more suitable outside due to their durability against weather conditions, while others may not fare so well over time if exposed constantly.


Different woods come at varying price points depending on how rare the species is, quality, and features.

Final Thoughts

There are many types of wood, and selecting the right one for your woodworking project can seem daunting. However, if you understand the different types of wood, characteristics and use are essential to making the right wood species. And if you have salvaged wood from your house or barn, you can sand it and put it into use.

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