Examples of Softwood


Usually, softwood consists of tracheids and wood rays but lacks vessels. As vessels are absent, softwood is also called non-porous wood.

The lack of vessels allows softwoods to absorb adhesives quickly, resulting in a better finish.

Softwood is commonly used in building material such as structural frames, exterior and interior wall cladding, fittings, floor coverings, formwork, and scaffolding, among others. It is also used in the paper and cardboard industry.

It comes with loose grain, higher sap content, and lighter color. However, it has poor fire resistance.

Its fine and lightweight structure makes it the best wood for furniture.

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Yew is native to western, central, and southern Europe. The heartwood of the yew tree is very tough and durable. The best timber, however, comes from trees growing in mountainous areas. It is also highly elastic. Thus, it can readily bend, spring back, and remain durable. It is also resistant to most insect attacks.

Color – Heartwood is orangish brown to darker brown or purplish hue. Sapwood is usually a thin band of pale yellow or tan color.

Density – Soft, flexible, and moderately heavy.

Grain – Straight, with a fine uniform texture.

Common Uses – Bows (archery), veneer, cabinet making, furniture, carvings, and musical instruments.

Finishing – Finishes well, but must be sealed with water-based or oil-based polyurethane.

Western Hemlock species are native to the west coast of North America, growing in the coastal rainforests of Alaska and British Columbia. The wood has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. It can turn, plane, and shape smoothly. It has a moderate nail and screw holding ability. It also has a reputation for termite resistance. However, outdoor uses require good finishing for avoiding quick decay.

Color – Heartwood is light reddish brown. Sapwood is slightly lighter in color.

Density – Soft and light.

Grain – Straight, with a coarse and uneven texture.

Common Uses – Boxes, pallets, crates, plywood, framing, cabinets, joinery, and millwork.

Finishing – Responds best to clear finishes.

Larch trees are native to the cooler temperate northern hemisphere. Larch wood is moderate-to-poorly resistant to fungal attack. However, it is durable and very resistant to rot and pests due to the presence of natural resins. Although knots are common, they are usually small.

Color – Heartwood is yellow to medium reddish brown. Sapwood is almost white.

Density – Very good strength and medium weight.

Grain – Straight or spiraled with an oily texture.

Common Uses – Veneer, utility poles, fence posts, flooring, boatbuilding, exterior and interior joinery, and construction lumber.

Finishing – Should be sealed before finishing to prevent bleed-through.


Fir trees are located throughout most of the North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They usually grow in the mountains. It comes with low shrinkage and reasonable stability. It is also strong and elastic.

Color – Sapwood is yellowish to reddish-white. Fresh heartwood can be yellowish-brown to reddish-yellow in color. However, it darkens quickly to a brown-red to dark-red.

Density – Medium-weight and fairly hard.

Grain – Straight and plain, sometimes wavy.

Common Uses – Veneer, plywood, and construction lumber.

Finishing – Finishes nicely. However, you need to take into account the fairly high sap content, which may require a coat of paint.

Red cedar is a common name for various varieties of cedars growing in the eastern United States region. The red cedar wood (also known as aromatic red cedar) is remarkably resistant to both decay and insect attack. It is highly aromatic and planes and shapes easily. However, it only has moderate screw and nail holding properties.

Color – Heartwood tends to be red or violet-brown. Sapwood is pale yellow or whitish.

Density – Hard texture and lightweight.

Grain – Straight grain with many knots.

Common Uses – Fence posts, closet and chest linings, carvings, outdoor furniture, birdhouses, pencils, closet interiors, bows, and small wooden specialty items.

Finishing – Finishes well, but oil finishes are recommended.

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