Hard Wood or Soft Wood?

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Introduction: Hard Wood or Soft Wood?

Use your fingernail to tell the difference between hard and soft wood. Hard woods are useful for making sturdy long-lasting constructions and produce more heat when burnt. Soft woods are light, easy to shape and are useful for making objects that float or fly. Is the wood your are using suitable for your project?

NOTE: This Instructable is to assist people who work with found wood, or are new users of wood. For the purposes of this Instructable taxonomic distinctions between hardwood and softwood will not be considered. These classical distinctions have little or no bearing on wood density and appropriate usage. I use the terms soft wood and hard wood to reference density; in contrast to hardwood and softwood which refer to traditional taxonomy.

Step 1: Soft Wood

When you press your thumbnail against soft wood and pull it along the surface it leaves a scratch mark. The deeper the mark - the softer the wood.


NOTE: This Instructable is to assist people who work with found wood, or are new users of wood. For the purposes of this Instructable taxonomic distinctions between hardwood and softwood will not be considered. These classical distinctions have little or no bearing on wood density and appropriate usage. I use the terms soft wood and hard wood to reference density; in contrast to hardwood and softwood which refer to traditional taxonomy.

Step 2: Hard Wood

When you press your nail against hard wood it will not leave a mark.


NOTE: This Instructable is to assist people who work with found wood, or are new users of wood. For the purposes of this Instructable taxonomic distinctions between hardwood and softwood will not be considered. These classical distinctions have little or no bearing on wood density and appropriate usage. I use the terms soft wood and hard wood to reference density; in contrast to hardwood and softwood which refer to traditional taxonomy.

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I always remember from my other younger life someone telling me the difference between soft wood and hard as a rule not conclusively can be determined buy the appearance of knots in the grain of soft wood and not in hardwood. Is this a rule that can be used buy a novice .?

Woods are classified by their 'density'! Each timber has a 'Specific Gravity' value and 'calorific index'. The higher the SG and CI are the harder the wood! But the 'hardness' of a timber would be determined in simple terms by how much it grows during a year relatively. It's about the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere being deposited into the wood! Deciduous trees have relatively denser wood than evergreens generally and so the wood is termed 'harder'. However a 'hardness value' isn't much good unless one looks at the 'working properties' of the wood!

Hardwood or softwood, Yes Balsa is a Hardwood, and Yes its very light and buoyant, does anyone remember from school the boat named “KON TIKI” made from Balsa wood, so why classify and what is the difference, basically the cell structure is different between hard and softwoods, hardwoods tend to have long egg shaped or rice shaped cells, while soft woods tend to have more circular type or bubble shaped cells. The area inside the cells is larger on softwoods and its within the cell that cellulose is stored and its cellulose that woodworm and other wood boring creatures like to eat, so your soft woods are more prone to infestation than hardwoods, so if you simply forget about the density of a timber and simply consider the cell structure you can make more informed choices. For example a window frame or cill can be made from a treated piece of pine [softwood] when treated the cellulose is replaced in the external layers of the timber by an insecticide, now this timber will be as long lasting as a piece of hardwood. John

 the treatment you put on timber to stop woodworm will only soak into the timber a short way and its only when the insect burrows its way in and lays its eggs but the worm itself will eat its way out of the timber eating the treated timber which will kill it.

yeah you cant tell timber by just the hardness grain is important and also smell weight.

aup JOHNNY!!!!!!!! WE ARE MEMBERS!!!!!!!!!!! w00p w00p :)

david arter-borkwood is reading it as well it is beastie

you have a book on wood ^o) coz ur cool :)