Common Soft Wood Types

Welcome to the first part of the beginner’s woodworking guide. First stop, figuring out softwood, what it is and how you can differentiate between each type.

First and foremost, you get wood cut into boards so you only need the right sizes and a machine to tool them to fit together. We are not concerned with the tree as much as the wood pieces itself.

Secondly, softwood unlike its name is not actually weaker than hardwood. This distinction is given based on source of wood or the tree it comes from. Coniferous trees will tend to produce reddish to yellow wood and they grow rather quick. The wood obtained from such trees like fir, pine, cedar are called softwood and they are less expensive to acquire.


There are varieties of cedar but the most popular choice is the western red variation. This particular softwood has  a light reddish tinge to it and is considered soft among all softwoods. Best used for outdoor projects such as decks, exteriors and the moderate pricing makes it easier to use in restoration projects too.


The wood often comes straight and has a visible grain. There may be a brownish to reddish tint on the wood and this kind of softwood is actually quite strong. It is also inexpensive and thus excellent for making furniture that you plan on painting at the end. As for restoration projects, fir is preferred to reinforce furniture.


There are several kinds of pine wood. Yellow, white, sugar, ponderosa are just a few popular choices and all work great as furniture raw material. The allure of pine is the fact that they are easy to carve. Staining pine is equally easy.


Just like cedar, redwood is best preferred for outdoor furniture thanks to its inherent resistance to moisture. Although fairly soft with a straight grain, there is a bit of reddish tint. This wood is more pliable than other softwood variants but still stronger than cedar.