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Familiarizing yourself with the different types of wood used in woodworking can help you make the right wood choice for your next project. The type of wood you pick determines the sturdiness, appeal, and durability of the final product. Each variety of wood comes with unique properties that make it more or less advantageous in a particular woodwork or construction project.

Note that there are three types of wood you will encounter hardwoods, softwoods, and engineered wood. All the wood species fall under these three categories.


Softwoods are milled from conifer trees that have needles and produce cones. The most popular ones include pine, cedar, redwood, spruce, and fir. The difference between softwoods and hardwoods has little to do with their softness or ease of working them with power machines such as the X-carve. In fact, some softwoods are harder than some hardwoods.

Many softwoods are strong hence used in many construction applications like building utility-style structures. The softwoods, especially those from the cypress family, have anti-rot properties making them suitable for wood projects prone to moth and insects attack. Softwoods like redwood and cedar are ideal for exterior woodworking projects like decking and outdoor furniture.


Hardwoods are milled from any tree species that do not produce cones or needles. They are also called deciduous trees or angiosperms, scientifically. Rather than producing cones or needles like their counterparts, they have leaves and seeds. Hardwoods include common species like maple, mahogany, cherry, oak, walnut, and ash. They may not necessarily be stronger than softwoods, but they are famous for their attractive and unique wood grain patterns.

Other trees species that are considered to be hardwoods but not deciduous trees include palm and bamboo. Scientifically, they are monocotyledons, but they have several properties of hardwood therefore classified as such.

Engineered wood

When purchasing wood in your local store for your woodworking projects, you may encounter engineered wood. It is manufactured wood that doesn’t occur naturally. Engineered wood is manufactured with wood that is manipulated to have specific features or properties. It is also known as composite wood and can sometimes be manufactured from the waste wood of sawmills and combined with recycled plastics.

The unique thing about engineered wood is that it passes through a heat process to produce wood sizes that are hard to achieve from nature. It is also treated with chemicals to boosts its resistance to molds and pests. Common engineered wood includes oriented strand wood, plywood, composite board, and medium-density fiberboard. Bamboo and palm are also referred to as engineered wood at times.

Wood veneers also fall under engineered wood since they often need to undergo unique cutting processes to obtain specific wood size or grain pattern.

The bottom line

So, there are three broad categories of wood, but there are hundreds of different wood types. When it comes to woodworking projects, you don’t have to consider the ability of the wood to resist moths and pests because you can add a sealant to the end product or treat it to avoid such problems. What you should focus on is the strength and durability of the wood and its appearance. You may also want to choose wood that is easy to work with and not hard on your tools.

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