HARDWOODS AND SOFTWOODS

Summary: Information on the characteristics of hardwoods and softwoods and what the main differences between the two are

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There is great confusion about the terms hardwood and softwood. When talking about softwoods many people refer to Deal, Pine and Fir. Pine and Fir are indeed species of tree, but Deal is a technical term (now obsolete) for describing a size of softwood, or its origin.

Most softwood trees have spiky leaves and are coniferous (Larch is an exception, and deciduous) with branches forming in whorls (rings) of two or more at the same level.

The softwood most commonly used in the UK is from the tree Pinus Sylvestus and is known as Redwood. Other names include Red Deal, Yellow Deal, Archangel Fir, Swedish Pine and Scots Pine. Other softwoods in common use are Cedar, Western Red, Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Parana Pine, Pitch Pine, Quebec Yellow Pine, Western White Pine, Sitka and Spruce.

Hardwood Trees have broad, flat leaves and are deciduous (Yew and Holly being exceptions). Branches usually grow at different levels and never more than two at the same level. Unlike softwoods which are specifically grown and forested most hardwoods, especially tropical ones, occur at random and are naturally growing. This makes felling and collection difficult raising the prices considerably against softwood. This fact, and of course diminishing stocks, have led to greater interest in lesser known hardwoods such as Utile.

Other hardwoods commonly available in the UK include home grown or European English Oak, Beech, Ash, Elm, Sycamore, Birch and Walnut.

Because many of these woods have superb decorative value, they are often cut into thin veneers and used to face less expensive timbers. The images below may not be exactly the same colours as the original timbers.

African Mahogany

African Mohogany

African Walnut

African Walnut

African Whitewood

African WhiteWood

Afrormosia

Afrormosia

Agba

Agba

Austrailian Oak

Austrailian Oak

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir

Elm

Elm

English Oak

English Oak

European Ash

European Ash

European Beech

European Beech

European Larch

European Larch

European Redwood

European Redwood

European Whitewood

European Whitewood

Idigbo

Idigbo

Iroko

Iroko

Jelutong

Jelutong

Kempas

Kempas

Parana Pine

Parana Pine

Popular

Poplar

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