March 23, 2023

How to Choose the Right Wood for Your Project 

Choosing wood for your project is an exercise of caution. Picking indiscriminately is a sign that you do not know what you want. Make an imaginary project and list all the factors influencing and building your project. Pay attention to color, grain, durability and moisture content. Prioritize your needs in the execution of your project. This article will give you an overview of how to choose the right wood.

Definition of Woodworking

Woodworking is a process that involves making items from wood. These include cabinet making, wood carving, joinery, carpentry, and woodturning. Amongst the wood items produced are decorative objects from wood, like cabinets, fine tables, instruments, bowls, and toys. 

Woodworking is into multiple procedures. These include jointing, planing, routing, sawing, sanding, and finishing. There are also different types of woodworking tools depending on your project. There are saws, drills, clamps, chisels, planers, and sanders. 

You do not have to be necessarily an expert since it is a hobby you can learn using proper tools and safety equipment. Woodworking and carpentry share some features since they construct objects from wood and use similar tools and materials. However, there are differences between the two.

Importance of Selecting the Right Wood

There are different types of wood available in the market. Each has different characteristics in color, density, grain, and finishing. Make sure you pick the wood for furniture as it helps you put value on your wood furniture. It also helps decide when and how you restore, resale, or discard a piece of furniture.

You can use wood to make furniture, but not all woods are equal. Choose carefully. When choosing the best wood for your furniture, understand its properties.

What To Consider When Choosing Wood

Wood Type 

What separates wood is hardness. It distinguishes the wood used for furniture. Hardwoods are stronger, scratch-resistant, and harder-wearing, but that is not the main feature that separates the two. 

Softwood is from evergreen conifer trees with needle-shaped leaves, whereas hardwood is from deciduous trees. Hardwood and softwood can be for the same items depending on the goal you want to achieve.


Softwood is from gymnosperms, which are seed-bearing evergreen trees. Amongst the trees are pine, spruce, fir, cedar, juniper, redwood, and yew. These are evergreen trees that are less dense than deciduous trees. They are easier to cut down. Since they grow tall and straight, cutting long straight wood planks becomes easier.

Softwood gives a more seamless finish to woodworking projects and is easier to use and more adaptable. It is more sustainable since it grows much faster. That makes it more affordable. However, softwood is weaker and less durable. That is why you may have to treat the wood if you plan to expose it to harsh weather conditions. 


Hardwood comes from Angiosperms such as maple, oak, and walnut. These trees are known to lose their leaves annually as they grow slowly. That is why it is less affordable. Hardwood has denser wood fibers, including fiber tracheids and libriform fibers. Not all types of hardwood can float in water. 

Hardwood is easy to maintain, even if your wood has scratches or dents. These can be fixed with ease. Hardwood comes in multiple colors, but since it is denser than softwood, it isn’t easy to work with. However, it is more durable and uses a special blade or chainsaw.

Wood Grain 

There are two types of wood grain: closed grain and open grain. Your choice is based on visual appeal. Unlike closed grain, open grain wood has larger and visible pores that can be seen from afar. 

The type of wood grain matters when it comes to a smooth finish. An open-grain wood gives your project a distinct and rugged look, while a closed grain is for a smoother finish. A closed-grain wood requires fewer coats of paint and a more polished look to the project. Open grains include cypress, redwood, and oak, and closed grain woods are cherry, maple, and mahogany are all closed-grain woods.

Open Grain 

Open Grain wood has large pores that can be seen easily using the naked eye. These pores are large and absorb fluids due to the presence of vessel members. Its vessel members are long in and have an open end. Oak, hickory, and Ash are some examples of open-grain wood. 

Closed Grain 

If the individual grains of the wood are not visible to the naked eye, you have a closed grain. This type of wood does not grow fast. Examples of closed-grain woods are Cherry, Maple, Birch, and American Black Walnut.


Choosing a color for your wood can be tricky. Pick a wood color tag that complements your furniture. However, playing around with colors is interesting as it unlocks your creativity. Note that you can alter some colors with stain.

Natural color 

The natural wood colors are for those who prefer furniture close to natural wood. There are multiple wood species for each color Which can be very exciting for woodwork enthusiasts. Consider having a chart of the natural wood color.

Stained Color

Every brand of wood stain has a variety of colors. These wood species include oak, imbuia, mahogany, and other exotic wood species. Choose a wood stain based on color and type. There are multiple colored stains from which to choose depending on location. The type of stain color you choose depends on how you use the object and how long you need it to last.

Moisture Content

The acceptable moisture levels of wood range from 6% to 8% for interior and 9% to 14% for exterior wood. If solid wood finishes are too dry during installation, they tend to absorb moisture, which causes the wood to swell, not glue and cause fungus and mold. When the air is too dry, but the wood is damp, it can shrink, decompose and crack.

Essential Rules to Follow

When choosing wood for your project, match the grain with your design. The two have to complement each other. 

Choose the Right Wood Type

If you are working on an exterior project, choose a wood resistant to the sun and weathering. Some woods can help protect against insects and water damage, while other wood types are ideal for indoors. Consider types of wood that are known for durability and strength.

Match Wood Grain to Project Design

When selecting stock for a small project, use wood from the same board. Grain and color can vary even in a single board, but with careful selection, you can cut parts that match. For larger projects, use boards cut from the same log. 

Consider Color and Finishes

The wood’s color changes through staining, bleaching, or finishing techniques. The finish is applied when the wood surface is prepared and stained. It consists of several coats of wax, shellac, drying oil, lacquer, varnish, or paint. Choose a color stain that brings your desired color at the end of the project. 

Account for Moisture Content

Moisture influences the strength and durability of the wood. When the moisture content of the wood increases, wood expands. When the humidity decreases, moisture also decreases, shrinking the wood. Wood must be kiln or air-dried to a moisture level of 19%. But wood intended for indoor use must have a moisture content level of less than half that amount, at only 9%.


In summary, you should know what finish you want before you choose a wood species. The wood must fit the purpose, durability, value, and finish. Ensure the moisture content is not too high or too low for your project. When choosing wood for your project, consider the species. It must be either hardwood or softwood. Choose the grain of the wood based on the design. Choose a color that matches your home, and pay attention to the moisture content. Above all, be creative enough to play with the colors. Do not disturb your finish by choosing the wrong type of wood. Pay attention to all of the above factors to get a great project.

David D. Hughes

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