Before choosing a specific raw material to work with, experienced woodworkers usually consider several features meticulously. While a close-grained hardwood may look impressive, using it as a material in dulled saw blades may not worth the price. However, choosing a looser-grained softwood or hardwood may not be a better option either if the needed structural attributes and finish for the work are absent. Despite the wide varieties of wood species, there is no fit-for-all.
Woods such as purpleheart, Jatoba, and ebony are referred to as exotic hardwoods because of their close, intricate grain patterns, natural oil surfaces, and rich hues, which make them attractive. However, these features imply hardness. Thus, a woodworker will need to retool the wood frequently and also utilize extra effort. Besides, in a bid to facilitate forest preservation, the exploration of exotic woods has been regulated. Therefore, there is less availability of the product, and consequently, the price is higher than ever. As a result, you will have to make an economic decision on whether to use exotic woods or not. While exotic woods offer a beautiful appearance and high durability, they are not entirely budget-friendly.
If you intend to run a project that demands the structural reliability of hardwood, then domestic species such as maple, oak, and cherry are recommendable. These species fall in the middle of the Janka hardness scale, i.e., they exhibit better workability compared to the exotic species. However, it is worth noting that qualities such as oily texture and vibrant colors are not available. Compared to harder tropical species, domestic hardwoods weather less, and mostly, they demand a finish to avoid discoloration and oxidation; however, this can be beneficial. To blend their lighter natural hues with the surrounding décor, a penetrating stain can be used. Also, rather than causing a detraction, finishes will only enhance their eye-catching appearance.
Woods considered as construction-grade materials include pine, redwood, cedar, and fir – all of which are softwoods. These woods can be cut and shape easily, most especially cedar and redwood. Additionally, they are weather-resistant and highly abundant. On the hardness scale, softwoods appear at the low end; thus, compared to the hardwoods, they break easily and wears quickly too. Besides, the cost of knot-fee, cabinet-grade softwood is as much as the price of hardwood. Nevertheless, construction-grade softwoods bearing a few knots and irregularities may be considered as visually appealing spots. Consequently, a woodworker may decide to stay within the budget allocated for a project, but keeping in mind that knotty wood doesn’t accept stains evenly.
(via: Deck Masters, LLC)
Although plywood is not a natural product, several builders and cabinetmakers often use it for their projects. Due to the laminated layers of plywood, it is capable of resisting swelling and shrinking better compared to solid wood. Additionally, plywood has a wide dimension, which helps prevent the need to laminate each plank required for cabinet or tabletop. While plywood can be cut, sand, and finish easily, they are not suitable for turning or constructing structural elements of furniture such as legs or spindles due to the visible layers of lamination on the edges. If you intend to use plywood for tabletop or cabinet, then be prepared to expend an extra effort needed for beading to cover the apparent edges.