Wood is one of the best materials to work with. They’re accessible, easy to handle, and don’t require expensive power tools to mold to your liking. Throughout history, humankind has used a wide variety of different building materials, but one remains consistent since the inception of agriculture: wood.
Nowadays, we have better and stronger materials to work with. Metals and different kinds of steel are the most common ones when creating long-term structures, yet people all over the world have not stopped using wood. Whether it’s endemic to their area, trying to maintain traditional building cultures, or it’s out of aesthetic preference, wood is still a popular choice even in the face of stronger and durable materials.
But with the myriad of different wood types and even wider variations when it comes to their quality (as the same type of wood can have different qualities depending on how they’re treated), what is the best one to work with? Below is a quick roundup of the best ones to work with, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start for anyone wanting to dip their toes.
One of the most popular types of wood, pine, and its great patterns make for great base materials for furniture. It’s easy to work with and thanks to its relatively malleable quality, is a great type of wood to practice your carving skills. It has many varieties, and different kinds are available depending on your location. Pine works best for indoor furniture, but can still be treated and stain to withstand outdoor elements. Staining it for protection and color is an easy task, but make sure to be careful when choosing one in your local home center as it’s often of a lower quality compared to buying one at a dedicated lumber shop.
If you’ve ever build project kits or model toys in your childhood, you’re probably familiar with balsa wood. Although it’s easy to mistake it as fragile and brittle, when used properly, it can be very strong- especially when compared to the amount of weight it can carry per pound. They make great material for miniatures and scale models or even small trinkets or details that need to be made out of wood. However, keep in mind that balsa wood isn’t great for larger products as it’s not waterproof and it catches fire easily. When working with it, it’s best to consider treating and staining options to ensure that you turn it into something very durable.
Let’s get something out of the way first: yes, bamboo is essentially not wood, but grass. But it’s a popular material for building a whole slew of different structures and furniture. They grow abundantly in tropical areas, and also have many varieties. Because of its naturally waxy exterior, bamboo makes for great outdoor furniture, as it can resist outdoor elements, even decay. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seal it with stain, however. Sanding the exterior so that stain, glue, or pain grips it is crucial in making sure that the treatment is effective. Depending on your location, bamboo can be expensive or affordable, but it’s a great piece to work with nonetheless.
With recycling and reclaiming old materials gaining popularity over the years, many project builders travel far and wide to gain access to barnwood. But what is barnwood really? Simply put, they’re the planks used to construct barns and other agricultural structures. It ages naturally, giving it that rustic and homely feel that is a beautiful sight to many. However, be careful when it comes to purchasing barnwood as it often takes quite a lot of effort to re-treat it, remove the nails, and make sure that it’s in a good condition. Luckily, you can visit lumber shops selling barnwood, as it has become a popular material to work with.
Often seen as an affordable alternative to oak, birch is an accessible type of hardwood that can be bought at any nearby home center or lumber supplier. Due to its strong and enduring nature, it can be utilized in most projects, from structures to furniture, from small projects to large ones. One thing to keep in mind when working with birch is that it’s relatively difficult to stain. Treating it often results in patchiness and can make it look unbalanced. Keep this in mind when working with it to prevent any expensive mistakes. Luckily, birch holds pain rather well, making it ideal for projects that require painting.
Wood is a popular building material used in houses and small projects since they’re accessible and affordable. What you need is to decide what works for you.