A Guide to Different Woods Used in Carpentry and Their Uses

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Softwoods come from coniferous trees. They are usually less expensive than hardwoods.

  • Fir – An inexpensive durable wood. This wood stains badly but can make good buildings, floorboards and painted furniture.
  • Pine – A softer wood that comes in many different varieties. This wood is a popular choice for furniture, flooring and wood carvings. It is attractive, inexpensive and stains well.
  • Cedar – A beautiful fragrant wood that is naturally resistant to rot and insects. This wood is a popular choice for outdoor furniture and decks. It is a softer wood and reasonably priced.



Hardwoods come from deciduous trees. They are generally more expensive than softwoods. Some varieties are very beautiful. Others are very rare. Price and availability are major factors when choosing a hardwood solid.

  • Ash – A straight-grained wood that stains well. This wood is easy to work with and popular for furniture. You may have to order it from a lumberyard.
  • Birch – An attractive inexpensive wood. This is harder wood that makes fine furniture. It can be difficult to stain.
  • Cherry – A beautiful wood with a white or reddish color. This wood is easily workable and ages well. It is more expensive than other popular woods, and you will need to buy it from larger lumberyard.
  • Mahogany – An expensive and increasingly rare wood. This wood has a lovely deep-red color, finishes well and makes fine furniture. It can be hard to find.
  • Maple – An inexpensive hardwood. It makes good furniture and kitchen cabinets. Found at most lumberyards.
  • Oak – A popular harder wood. Both the red and the white varieties make good furniture, but the white oak is more attractive and moisture resistant. Popular for country style kitchen cabinets and flooring. You may have to purchase it from a lumberyard.
  • Poplar – An inexpensive softer wood. It is durable, but not that attractive. Woodworking, carving and the insides of drawers and cabinets are common uses for this wood.
  • Teak – An lovely oily wood popular for outdoor furniture. It is pricy and difficult to find.
  • Walnut – An expensive harder wood with a rich brown color. Makes beautiful furniture and attractive inlays. You may need to go to a speciality supplier to find it.

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