Which Trees Are Used for Lumber?

Trees used for lumber include oak, maple, birch, cherry, walnut, pine, redwood, hemlock, fir and spruce. These trees are classified as hardwood or softwood; hardwood typically consists of deciduous trees.

Hardwood trees lose their leaves during the harshest winter months. They consist of maple, oak, birch, walnut and cherry, as well as other species. Hardwood trees are further classified by the pores of their wood, which determine the wood grain and texture. Hardwoods such as maple and cherry are classified as closed grained, meaning they have much smaller pores. Ring-porous trees consist of larger pores and typically include poplar, oak and ash.

Softwoods such as pine, cedar, fir and spruce are usually obtained from coniferous, or evergreen, trees. These trees typically grow with needles instead of leaves and, being true to their classification name, stay green all year long. Because of their ability to grow year round, softwoods are more easily conserved but sacrifice structural soundness. Because of this quality, softwoods are more often used for things such as shipping crates and production of studs and joists. All softwood trees are classified as closed grained and typically show less of their grain and pores in the finished product.

Hardwoods are typically more structurally sound because they grow slower. These woods are more ideal for projects such as cabinetry, doors and flooring.