You have your wood working plans for the wood working project you have decided to build, now all you need is some wood, glue, fasteners, a few tools and you are off and running.
Wood is wood, right? Well it depends on where you are in the world, it could be lumber or timber. Then there is MDF, Chipboard, Plywood, Particle board, hardboard and a whole host of other variants of reconstituted wood chips, laminated boards and beams.
To start with, let’s just take a look at “real wood”.
So you have wood working plans for something you have decided to build, what wood do you need?
The answer to that is – it depends, not very helpful you might think, but it really does depend on what you are making so let’s see if we can point you in the right direction.
For many of my wood working projects real wood is often my first choice but not always. Like I said that’s lumber or timber, there is a huge variety of tree types which vary enormously in their properties and costs but essentially they are categorised into softwood and hardwood.
Softwood is wood from the conifer variety of trees and includes cedars, Douglas-firs, cypresses, firs, junipers, kauris, larches, pines, redwoods, spruces, and yews.
Surprisingly enough softwoods are not necessarily softer than hardwoods, there is a wide variation in hardness in both groups. Generally, softwood is easier to work with than hardwood.
Softwood is used a great deal in the building industry for structural timber, for making furniture, wood pulp and paper. For many of the wood working projects that you may be considering, Cedar and Pine for example are good choices.
From an environmental perspective softwood is easier to replenish than hardwood, taking less time to grow to usable sizes and is grown in large forests around the world. Because of the tree shapes they can be grown closer together, so you get a higher density of timber per acre or hectare.
The density in hardwoods has a broad range and encompasses that of softwoods. There are some hardwoods (such as balsa) which are softer than most softwoods, while yew is an example of a hard softwood. The hardest hardwoods are much harder than any softwood. There are hundred times as many hardwoods as softwoods.
Varieties of hardwoods include ash, beech, boxwood, cherry, ebony, holly, mahogany, maple, oak, teak and walnut. There are many other varieties. Many hardwoods have intricate grain patterns like walnut are some are used for special applications such as veneers.
Quality furniture and fittings in your home are often made from hardwoods. There is a cost penalty though, hardwoods generally, are more expensive than softwoods.
Most wood working plans will have a list of timber required but, check actual measurements. You will need to make allowances in your wood working projects for variations in your timber. Timber has a water content and shrinks as it dries. Some kiln dried timber is available but it will be considerably more expensive. Dressed (or finished) timber can vary in sizes a small amount
Some timber is better suited to outdoor projects than others. For special applications, some timber is chemically treated.
If you are in any doubt just ask at your local lumber (timber or wood) yard and they will usually be happy to give you advice.
So choose your wood, open up your wood working plans and get your wood working project underway.