Choosing the Right Wood for Your Next DIY Project

Planning a Project in Carpentry and Woodwork Industry, Notebook and Assorted Woodwork and Carpentry Tools on Pinewood Workshop Table.

Knowing the species and grade of wood for your DIY projects is paramount for the project’s success. The different types of wood come with unique characteristics in terms of color, density, finishing, and grain. Choosing the right wood will be critical not only for the project’s appearance but also in determining the cost of the unit. Whether you want to work with hardwood or softwood, there are key determining factors to consider to get the right wood for your project.

Major Factors to Help Choose the Right Wood

1. Determine the structural Requirements

One of the key things you will need to understand is the structural dimensions of the wood. Wood products are created in different sizes from 2x, 4x, 6x through to 18x. The nominal width dimensions are in increments of 2 inches from 2×2 to 4×18. For standardization purposes, the American Wood Council offers an easy-to-use span calculator that helps DIY-ers determine the structural measurements for the wood. Structural wood is graded based on strength and appearance, with the most common structural grades being Stud, No. 2, and No.1. The Southern Forest Products Association offers a grading guide that helps you choose the best grade of wood.

2. Nature of the Project

A key factor to consider is whether your project is functional or an exhibition for the wood. For functional projects, engineered wood products encompassing MDF, OSB, and plywood are budget-friendly options to go by, especially if the project involves covering large spaces like flooring underlayment and countertops. If your projects involve products for display such as wooden toys and display instruments, you can opt for wood species with beautiful grain patterns like cherry and maple for interior projects and mahogany for exterior projects.

3. Project Location: Interior or Exterior

The location of your project helps you understand how different wood species behave indoors and outdoors. Certain species will withstand the extreme conditions outside characterized by insects, molds, and extreme weather conditions. Oftentimes hardwoods are best preferred for outdoor usage, but some softwood species like cedar have unique oils in their cells that help protect damage from insects, mold, and mildew, hence a lightweight alternative. For outdoor projects, look for wood that is resistant to exterior elements.

4. Sustainability in Sourcing

In an effort to support environmental sustainability, it is important to check if your wood is responsibly sourced. Sustainable forestry is crucial to creating symbiotic relationships between forests and healthy ecosystems where harvesting occurs in established areas with management plans implemented to reduce the impact of logging. Sustainably sourced wood in the marketplace today include bamboo, oak, white ash, Douglas fir, pine, teak, and maple. In many cases, old growths are quite uncommon hence no longer sustainably available.

Sourcing Wood for Your Next Project

Almost any type of wood can be used for your project. However, to meet your personal needs, you will need to consider the cost, durability, the wood’s workability, surface appearance, and ability to take a final finish such as oil, stain, or paint. At Reclaimed Secrets, we provide high-quality and sustainably sourced wood that is scalable and ways to work with even for beginner DIY-ers. We up-cycle wood, utter trash, and metals to create beautiful wood designs and concepts that will impact the furniture industry. With our wood furniture scorecard, we encourage sustainable practices in the furniture industry.