When most think of the term hardwood, it is assumed that the name has reference to the actual hardness or density of the wood. The same could be said for the term softwood, that per its name, this wood is inherently softer than hardwood. Ironically, the terms hardwood and softwood have no reference to the actual density or durability of the wood; the difference is in how the trees produce seeds.
The term hardwood is used to describe the wood produced by angiosperm trees. The seeds are usually covered with either a fruit or shell and flower to reproduce. Angiosperm trees also have broad leaves opposed to the needles or pinecones found on most softwood trees. Here at California Pacific Specialty Woods we keep an inventory of hardwoods such as:
Softwood is the name given to wood produced by gymnosperm trees, which grow needles instead of leaves. The seeds from gymnosperm trees are exposed and either fall to the ground or are carried by the wind to reproduce elsewhere. The main softwoods we keep in stock at California Pacific Specialty Woods are Deodar Cedar and Redwood, both of which produce large and beautiful slabs.
So before you buy a slab for its looks or for it being a “hardwood”, we suggest doing some research to make sure the wood will have the actual hardness desired for the finished product. Redwood slabs are beautiful, but require a hard finish to be applied if being used as a tabletop, whereas walnut needs less protection. We hope this quick blog helps clear up any confusion between the terms “hardwood” and “softwood”, now have fun creating!