How to Identify Hardwoods and Softwoods?

HitBerryPublished on   31 Aug, 2017Updated on   01 May, 2021

You may be thinking that people can identify hardwood or softwood by the actual by the feeling of the wood—but it isn't. The difference between the hardwoods and soft woods actually depends on the tree's structure base.

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source: media1.britannica

Hardwood comes from trees known as angiosperms which are flowering fruits trees with enclosed seeds like apples or walnuts. Therefore, hardwood includes ash, aspen, balsa, birch, cherry, elm, mahogany, maple, and oak.

Hardwoods come from a tree which drops all leaves in winter and grows back. Mostly these kinds of woods are actually heavier than soft woods and used for making cabinets fronts or doors. Hardwoods mostly don't  float on water.

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source: hardwoodlumbersuppliers

The trees which come from gymnosperms is known as softwoods.  Mostly this kind of trees have uncovered seeds that typically blow away from if they fall from the tree. This kind of tree has soft seeds. Examples include cedar, pine, and spruce.

By this definition, it's easy to see that you can't simply go by the feel of a piece of wood when determining its hardness. For example, balsa, which is classified as a hardwood, is actually one of the least dense and "softest" (to the touch) woods of all. Softwoods come tree which grows needle and it really grows fast than the hardwoods.

Mostly these kinds of woods are used for framing the houses. Softwoods kind of easy to identify because of its float on water.

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source: charihofurniture

Here are some of the tips which will help to identify hardwoods and softwoods.

  1. The terms hardwood and softwood do not refer to density but rather to the type of tree- hardwoods come from deciduous trees and softwoods from conifers.
  2. Softwoods grow fast and straight so they are a good option for framing material like fir and spruce.  The fewer knots, the stronger the wood. These woods are typically dried in a kiln to prevent warping and shrinkage.
  3. Some softwoods like pine are inexpensive and can be used for interior trim, but they can warp and twist.
  4. A hardwood like a maple is used for cabinets whereas oak is a good choice for flooring.  Both of these are more common hardwoods.
  5. Fine hardwoods are denser and include species like walnut and mahogany. They’re used for balusters and decking and are more expensive than common hardwoods.
  6. Exotic hardwoods like purple heart and zebra wood are the most expensive wood this kind of is used nice small projects like making good products, showpieces and usually used for accents on fine furniture.