building Projects and Wood Species

lumber rainbow poplar

CYPRESS (Taxodium distichum)

This is a durable, but relatively soft wood, 510 lpf Janka score, with a light honey color. It's commonly used for exterior projects, like siding and docks. Untreated lumber weathers to a silver-grey color, but can last decades, especially if water isn't allowed to pool on it.

Old growth cypress was harvested during the 1800's, but was lost or sank when floated down rivers. These logs are recovered by state permitted loggers and are of uncomparable size to cypress growing today. Their wood is often reddish-brown, but can be black if they were in tannic waters. Some logs may be pecky, having small holes in the wood.

ATLANTIC WHITE CEDAR (Chamaecyparis thoides)

It is a very rot resistant, straight grain wood with a Janka score of 350 lbf. It's easily workable and is often used in boat building or for exterior projects.

EASTERN RED CEDAR (Juniperius virginiana)

This aromatic lumber is commonly used in pantries and closets to repel moths and bugs. The heart wood is reddish and darkens with light exposure. Lumber from smaller trees often has knots and streaks of creamy white sapwood mixed with the darker heart. This hard wood, Janka score 900 lbf, works easily and is very rot resistant. This is used for turniture, paneling and exterior projects. 

OAKS (Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Quercus virginiana)

While there is a species called white oak and a species called red oak, there are also two main categories of oak, red and white, into which the many species of oak are grouped. They differ in significant ways. White oak is denser, more easily worked and usually more expensive. But most importantly, pores running along the length of lumber are closed in white oaks making it much more rot resistant. Hence white oaks can be used in exterior applications, boat building and cooperage, in addition to furniture and flooring. Red oak should only be used for interior projects. Janka scores 1350 lbf for white oak and 1060 lbf for red oak.

Live oak is categorized as a white oak and is the densest of the oaks. With a Janka score of 2680 lbf, carbide blades are recommended for cutting. It's also extremely rot resistant when in ground contact. It is an evergreen, growing year round, which virtually eliminates growth rings. Unlike many woods where the sapwood is substantially weaker, Live Oak's sapwood is quite strong showing the same rot resistance as heartwood..

This large iconic tree was so important to ship builders of the 17th century that the British, French, Spanish and finally a nacent US government claimed large land areas  so as to have naturally curved wood for ribs and knees in their naval vessels.

BLACK CHERRY (Prunus serotina)

This is a heavy, strong, close grained wood is highly desirable  for furniture, cabinetry, and turned figures. It is easy to work and stays straight. The heartwood is pinkish when first cut, but will change to a rich brownish red color that is often mimicked with stain on less expensive wood. Some large trees may be figured, having a darker waves of color against a slightly lighter heartwood. Janka scoure 950 lbf.

OTHER SPECIES

PERSIMMON (Diaspyros virginiana) This small to medium fruit tree is in the same genus as true ebonies. Large trees can have solid black heartwood while smaller trees have lumber that appears to be spalted. This strong heavy wood finishes very smooth to the touch. Janka score 2300 lbf.


SWEET GUM (Liquidambar styraciflua) This is a hard, heavy wood with interlocking grains and scores 850 lbf. The heartwood is reddish-brown in color contrasting with the much lighter and weaker sapwood. The heart of large trees has been turned into veneer and marketed as 'Italian Mahogany' or 'Satin Walnut'.


TULIPTREE (Liriodendron tulipifera) Soft wood that is easily worked. Large specimens can have very colorful heartwood with streaks of green, brown, gold and purple. Janka score 540 lbf.


SYCAMORE ((Platanus occidentalis) Hard, dense wood that is light in color. Most striking when quartersawn, as darker rays are exposed giving the wood a speckled quality with alot of visual movement. Janka score 770 lbf.


CLICK ON PICTURE ABOVE TO SEE PHOTO GALLERY OF SOME BUILDING PROJECTS AND LUMBER