Hardness is the most simple method to distinguish types of wood used for furniture. Contrary to popular belief, hardwood is not necessarily harder and denser compared to softwood. In botanical or scientific terms, hardwood comes from flowering trees while softwood comes from coniferous trees. Both hardwood and softwood are used for structural as well as decorative purposes.
Hardwood comes from Angiosperms such as maple, oak, walnut and many other trees. These trees lose their leaves annually (deciduous or broad-leafed trees). As they grow slowly, hardwood has denser wood fibers (fiber tracheids and libriform fibers). An interesting fact about hardwood is that some types of hardwood can’t float in water. For example, Black ironwood is perhaps the hardest and heaviest wood that sinks in water.
Properties of Hardwood
Softwood comes from Gymnosperms, which are seed-bearing evergreen trees such as pine, spruce, fir, cedar, juniper, redwood, and yew. As most evergreen trees tend to be less dense than deciduous trees, it is easier to cut them down. They also grow tall and straight, making it easier to cut long straight planks of wood.
Properties of Softwood
Hardwood vs Softwood
|Tracheid content 5% to 10%
|Tracheid content 90% to 95%
|Not all types of hardwood are ideal for furniture making. Being expensive, they are usually used in high-end furniture manufacturing.
|Almost all types of softwood are ideal for furniture making. In fact, about 80% of all timber comes from softwood.
|Ex: Teak, Oak, Ash, Beech
|Ex: Pine, Spruce, Fir, Cedar