Hardwood Lumber: Uses for 5 Hardwoods

Grove of birch trees
  • 1-100 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-15,000

Hardwood lumber is processed from deciduous trees. These trees habitually shed their leaves during the fall. However, some evergreen hardwood trees can also be found in some tropical areas. Hardwoods are slower growing than softwoods. They occur in a dense pattern usually composed of various tree species. Various strains of hardwoods are available. Below are five common types of hardwood and their uses.

1. Birch

The Birch tree is generally a small to medium-sized tree found in temperate climates. Birch lumber is one of the more inexpensive timbers available for construction. It is useful for cabinets, veneers, plywood and flooring. Yellow birch makes exceptionally attractive flooring material due to its unique graining. Birch is also ideal for use in wooden stoves because it is dense and burns slowly.

2. Maple

large colorful maple tree

Maple trees range in height. Some reach heights of 150 feet while others retain a shrub-like structure of just a few feet. The tree produces maple syrup, which is used as an accompaniment for various dishes. The maple tree is one of the heaviest hardwoods. Much of American colonial furniture is made from maple lumber. Maple lumber is also widely used in the sporting sectors. Bowling pins, pool cue shafts, and baseball shafts frequently use maple. Due to its beautiful grain patterns maple lumber is also useful for decorative purposes.

3. Poplar

It is one of the widest occurring hardwoods in the northern temperate zone. Although rapidly growing, it is a short-lived hardwood. The tree has yellow or pale green flowers with an orange band. Poplar lumber is one of the softer hardwood types. Poplar lumber is useful in paper-making, cardboard boxes, crates, furniture, and the interior of automobiles and railroad cars. It is also useful for completing the inside of cabinets, drawers, and chests.

4. Oak

large sprawling oak tree

More than 60 oak species are found in the USA although the two basic varieties are the red and white oak. Like the walnut tree, oak trees also produce nuts called acorns. Of all hardwoods, oak enjoys the highest usage. This is because it is one of the most resilient hardwoods with a high durability. The tree has naturally occurring compounds called tannin that give it a very high resistance to insects and fungus. Some of the oldest buildings still standing boast oak components. The tree has attractive grain markings that make it very popular for furniture, flooring, and frames. Oak lumber is also used for wine and whisky barrels.

5. Walnut

This nut-bearing hardwood has attractive greenish flowers. About 60 species of the tree have been documented. Some of the more common species are the Japanese walnut, black walnut and white walnut. The walnut hardwood produces a variety of edible nuts that are rich in oil. Walnut lumber is hard and durable though not as heavy as oak.

Depending on the species it is produced from, walnut lumber ranges from creamy white to chocolate in color. Walnut lumber is highly resistant to decay. It has proved very popular in cabinet making, furniture making, altar pieces, church seats, bowls, and gun stocks. It is also used for making dashboards in high-end luxury cars.