Woods are categorized into two broad categories; hardwoods and softwoods. Softwoods are from conifer trees that produce cones and usually have needles. The common types of softwoods include pine, cedar, spruce, redwood, and fir.

On the other hand, hardwoods are harvested from trees that don’t produce cones or needles but have seeds and leaves instead. Common hardwoods include mahogany, oak, birch, maple, cherry, walnut, poplar, ash, and teak.

Choosing the best wood for woodworking depends on the type of wood project you wish to accomplish and personal preferences. As a rule of thumb, select wood that you feel comfortable working with and won’t wear down the bits on your Inventables carving machines quickly.


Cedar is one of the softwoods available. It features a reddish color, a straight grain, and a sweet smell, and many people believe that the aromatic smell repels moths and pests. Cedar is suitable for making closets, drawers, and other storage cabinets. It is also used in outdoor wood projects like fencing, decking, and patio furniture. The wood has natural oils that can be irritant, so it shouldn’t be used to make products that contact people’s skin for long.


Redwood is harvested from redwood trees. It has a red tint and a fairly straight grain. It is excellent for outdoor projects such as fencing, decking, and retaining walls because it is moisture resistant and easy to cut into the shape and size you desire. It is also used for indoor applications like building cabinets, veneers, and tables.


Fir is a softwood with a reddish tint commonly known as douglas fir. It is relatively strong and inexpensive. But it doesn’t have an attractive pattern, so it is often painted to conceal the grain and make it more appealing. It has a dense grain that makes it more robust than many softwood varieties; therefore, it is used for construction and utility projects.


Mahogany is the most popular hardwood. Many people like using it because of its easy workability. It has a straight grain and medium texture and makes items such as guitars and pianos. Mahogany is not grown in sustainable forests; hence hard to get at the local stores. You can get it in a lumberyard, but it can be expensive.


Oak is a hardwood that comes in red and white colors. White oak is mainly used to make furniture because it is attractive and harder than red oak. Since it is not rot-resistant, it needs the right type of resealing to ensure it does not rot when used for outdoor projects. It is used to create cabinets, flooring, and heirloom pieces that can last for generations. But it is prone to expanding and contracting due to temperature conditions, so you need to let it acclimate to your workshop before using it.


Walnut is a hardwood with a dark or deep brown appearance that makes it a favorite for many people. It has a fine grain that can be easily stained or polished. It is hard but not difficult to work with. The wood is used to construct furniture, musical instruments, guns (because it is shock absorbent), and flooring.


If you want to venture into woodworking, you have to familiarize yourself with the various types of wood used in woodwork projects.