This article appeared on woodworkweb.com
Hardwoods and softwoods both have a wide array of applications in the wood products industry. A hardwood tree is often, but not necessarily, a harder and denser wood than a softwood. The term comes from old logging camp “rules of thumb” where woods were sometimes named by their resistance to sawing.
A great example of an exception to the rule is balsa wood. Balsa is one of the lightest, least dense woods there is, but it is considered a hardwood.
Hardwoods come from deciduous trees, those that shed their leaves in the winter. These trees are angiosperms. That means that they make seeds or fruits that are enclosed. An apple tree is a hardwood, for example; they will usually form flowers to reproduce and are pollinated by birds and insects. Hardwood species include Birch, Maple, Cherry, Balsa, Oak, Elm, Mahogany and Sycamore. Hardwoods, being more durable, are more resistant to extreme weather.
Softwoods come from conifers, trees that remain green all year round such as pine. Softwood comes from trees that are gymnosperms which means they reproduce from cones that emit pollen and that pollen is spread through the wind or from seeds that fall to the ground. Softwood varieties of trees include pine, redwood, fir and cedar.
Generally, more of the high end wood products that we manufacture are produced using hardwood species but, of course, it depends on the specifications and application of the project. Crates for instance are often made with softwoods. Wood dowels that are required to be more durable are generally made from hardwoods, such as birch, maple, beech, oak and ash. Our balusters and columns are custom made to order for interior and exterior applications and are produced in paint and stain grades from wood species such as mahogany, poplar and oak, however, we are not limited to these species and can offer a verity of other species to meet our customers requirement for their unique project.