Wood - Hard and Soft Woods

Hard and Soft Woods

There is a strong relationship between the properties of wood and the properties of the particular tree that yielded it. The density of wood varies with species. The density of a wood correlates with its strength (mechanical properties). For example, mahogany is a medium-dense hardwood that is excellent for fine furniture crafting, whereas balsa is light, making it useful for model building. One of the densest woods is black ironwood.

It is common to classify wood as either softwood or hardwood. The wood from conifers (e.g. pine) is called softwood, and the wood from dicotyledons (usually broad-leaved trees, e.g. oak) is called hardwood. These names are a bit misleading, as hardwoods are not necessarily hard, and softwoods are not necessarily soft. The well-known balsa (a hardwood) is actually softer than any commercial softwood. Conversely, some softwoods (e.g. yew) are harder than many hardwoods.

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Famous quotes containing the words woods, hard and/or soft:

    Thou waitest late and com’st alone,
    When woods are bare and birds are flown,
    William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

    Let those talk of poverty and hard times who will in the towns and cities; cannot the emigrant who can pay his fare to New York or Boston pay five dollars more to get here ... and be as rich as he pleases, where land virtually costs nothing, and houses only the labor of building, and he may begin life as Adam did? If he will still remember the distinction of poor and rich, let him bespeak him a narrower house forthwith.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    half-way up the hill, I see the Past
    Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,—
    A city in the twilight dim and vast,
    With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,—
    And hear above me on the autumnal blast
    The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1809–1882)