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Choose Hard Wood Lumber Carefully

Jul 31, 2008
For those who want to build a hutch or small desk, or install a hard wood floor in their home, it is important that they choose the correct type of wood. Just a bit of research and reading can give the layman enough information about woods to make the proper choice. Each type of hardwood lumber has its own color, texture, grain and so on. Being able to choose from among the many choices is both a challenge and a pleasure, especially when the chosen type of wood is used to make beautiful and one-of-a-kind furniture or flooring.

The first question to ask might be: What is hard wood lumber? Hardwoods come, generally, from broadleaf trees or nut-bearing trees. Among the most popular of such trees in North America are hickory, cherry, walnut, maple and oak. The climate of this part of the globe is perfect for large growths of hardwood trees and over the centuries the lumber produced from these trees has been used for furniture, flooring and home construction.

Though the tendency is to simply class the lumber from these trees as "hardwood" there are actually some significant differences among different types. Each type of wood has been standardized by industry experts according to grain, strength and other categories. Categories of lumber help consumers when it comes time to purchase lumber for their woodworking projects.

For example, a customer that needs particularly strong wood for heavy use or continuous, daily use, might choose hickory or pecan. These types of wood can withstand considerably more pressure than others before permanent marks or damage show on the surface. For example, hickory and pecan can withstand about 1,800 pounds of pressure per square inch, while aspen is on the other end of the scale at 350 pounds of pressure before marring. Maple and oak qualify as true hard woods because they can stand pressure up to !,300 and 1,400 pounds per square inch.

This one feature makes the hard woods suitable for flooring, while those that fall slightly lower on the pressure scale are fine for furniture. Cherry, often used for furniture, is relatively strong at 950 pounds per square inch.

However, it is best to remember that hard woods come from growing plants and even after "harvesting" and being made into lumber, the wood can contract and expand. Temperature and moisture in the environment can significantly affect all woods. Care is generally taken to dry the lumber in a kiln so that the lumber is as stable as possible when it is put into use.

Lumber providers make clear distinctions between different types of wood, how the types are treated and dried, and to what use the wood is put after sale. Several retail outlets keep an inventory of hard wood lumber for all purposes. In recent years, some large lumber suppliers have even offered lumber on Web sites. Many of these new sites focus on flooring projects.

Careful thought should be given to getting the proper type of lumber for the particular woodworking or remodelling project. The finished look of the lumber should also be taken into account, with attention given to overall color, grain, feel etc. Tip: Most hard woods can be stained to give the desired color/finish, so it may be best to look closely at grain/texture when choosing hard woods.
About the Author
Jerry Blackburn writes articles for http://www.insidewoodworking.com , a web page with information about wood storage rack plans . You can see his writings on lumber rack plans over at http://www.insidewoodworking.com .
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