How to Choose the Best Wood for Your Project

If you’re brand new to woodworking, one of the most confusing things to learn could very well be what kind of wood you should use in a project. After all, you are likely to have a lot of choices, and there will probably be a lot of jargon you are not familiar with.

Here’s some advice from a lumber store about selecting wood in Franklin County, MA for your next project.


Softwood technically refers to wood that comes from non-deciduous trees, though it is usually also softer than hardwood (which comes from deciduous trees). Like all solid lumber, it is subject to expansion and contraction.

The most common softwood is pine, which makes it also the most affordable. Pine boards are frequently used for framing and construction. A 2×4 is almost always going to be made of pine (often Douglas Fir), unless otherwise specified. Pine is extremely easy to work with, sands nicely and is easy to cut through. However, it will scratch and dent easier than most hardwoods, so it’s probably not ideal for an application like furniture that could experience some heavy usage.


If you’re focused on making fine furniture or other classic woodworking projects, you’ll probably be focused on using hardwoods. Oak, mahogany, walnut and cherry are just a few examples of the hundreds of types of hardwoods you can purchase.

Hardwood is rarely painted, because the whole purpose of using it is to see the beautiful grains. It can be stained, but many people simply protect its natural appearance with a varnish or lacquer. You can use multiple types of hardwood lumber in Franklin County, MA in a project to achieve contrasting looks, such as walnut and maple, which are commonly used together on chessboards and cutting boards.

Hardwood is denser than pine, which can make it a little more difficult to work with and a little tougher on your saw blades. It can also be quite expensive and more difficult to find. However, you can usually find common species such as oak, maple and walnut at just about any hardware or lumber store.


Plywood is extremely popular because of its versatility, but it can be confusing to new woodworkers because of the sheer variety of plywood. Plywood is, of course, not real wood—it’s manufactured using stacks of thin veneers of wood that are glued together. The crossing of grain directions makes it highly stable.

The most common thickness of plywood used in furniture and other projects that require stability is ¾” plywood. The more layers in that plywood, the higher quality it is likely to be. You should look for plywood that is sanded on both sides and has fewer voids on each edge. There are also specialty plywoods with hardwood veneers. These can get expensive, but they provide a natural hardwood look to a project made with plywood.

For more information about the different varieties of wood in Franklin County, MA available to you at our lumber store, contact Forest Products Associates today.