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A Guide to Wood Boards: Selecting the Right Type for Your Needs

Tips & Guides
09 August 2023 min read

A Guide to Wood Boards: Selecting the Right Type for Your Needs

Wood, the backbone of human civilisation, has been a trusted companion of mankind for millennia. Its malleability and durability, complemented by a unique aesthetic appeal, make wood a versatile and ever-relevant material across epochs. From the humble beginnings of crafting tools to the intricate artistry of modern-day woodworking, wood has been our steadfast ally. 

At Woodshop Direct, we understand the importance of choosing the right wood for your projects. This comprehensive guide aims to help you navigate the world of wood boards, ensuring you select the perfect type for your needs.


Understanding Wood Boards

Before diving into the specifics, it's essential to understand what wood boards are. 

Simply put, a wood board is a flat, elongated, rectangular piece of wood used for various purposes, from construction to furniture making. Moreover, the type of wood board you choose can significantly impact your project's quality, durability, and aesthetics.


Types of Wood Boards

Numerous types of wood boards are available, each with its unique characteristics. Some of the most common include:

1. Softwood Boards: Derived from coniferous trees like pine, cedar, and spruce, these boards are generally less expensive and easier to work with. Also, they're ideal for outdoor projects due to their natural resistance to decay.

2. Hardwood Boards: Sourced from deciduous trees like oak, maple, and walnut, hardwood boards are denser and more durable, making them perfect for furniture and flooring.

3. Plywood: Plywood is a versatile and affordable option, with multiple layers of wood veneer glued together.

4. MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard): Made from wood fibres combined with resin, MDF is a cost-effective choice for interior applications like cabinetry and shelving.


Selecting the Right Wood Board

Choosing the right wood board for your project can be daunting, given the many options. Here are some factors to consider:


Purpose of the Project

The nature of your project largely determines the type of wood board you should select. 

For instance, if you're building outdoor furniture, opt for a durable and weather-resistant wood like cedar. On the other hand, hardwoods like oak or walnut would be more suitable for indoor furniture or decorative pieces due to their beautiful grain patterns and durability.



Naturally, your budget plays a crucial role in your choice of wood. While hardwoods offer superior quality and aesthetics, they come with a higher price tag. So, if you're working on a tight budget, consider more affordable options like softwoods or engineered wood boards.



Consider the ease of working with the wood. Softwoods are generally easier to cut, carve, and shape, making them ideal for beginners. Hardwoods, while offering more durability, require more skill and effort to manipulate.


Caring for Your Wood Boards

Proper care and maintenance can significantly extend the life of your wood boards. Here are some tips:

1. Regular Cleaning: Dust and dirt can scratch the surface of your wood boards. Regular cleaning with a soft cloth can help maintain their appearance.

2. Protection: Apply a suitable finish to protect your wood boards from moisture, UV rays, and insects.

3. Repair: Small scratches and dents can be filled with wood filler and sanded smooth. But for more significant damage, consider professional repair or replacement.


Wood Board Sizes: One Size Does Not Fit All

One aspect of selecting the right wood board often overlooked is the size. Wood boards come in various lengths, widths, and thicknesses, and understanding how these dimensions impact your project is crucial. 

For instance, the thickness of a board can affect both the structure and appearance of your project. Thicker boards are more robust and suitable for structural applications like tabletops or shelves, while thinner boards are better for decorative pieces or panelling.


Grades of Wood Boards: Quality Matters

The grading of wood boards is another vital factor to consider. 

Select grade wood, the highest quality, is virtually free from knots and other imperfections, making it perfect for high-end furniture or finish carpentry. On the other hand, common grade wood has more defects but is significantly cheaper, ideal for projects where the aesthetic isn't the primary concern.


Speciality Boards: The Unconventional Options

Consider a range of speciality wood boards apart from traditional hardwood and softwood boards. 

With their raw, natural edges, live edge boards can add a unique aesthetic to furniture or decor. Boards like veneered MDF sheets, made by glueing a thin layer of high-quality wood onto a base of less expensive material, provide the appearance of expensive wood without the high cost. 


Safety Precautions: Working Smartly with Wood Boards

As you embark on your woodworking journey, remember that safety is paramount. Always use appropriate personal protective equipment, like safety glasses and gloves. Furthermore, maintain your tools to ensure they're in good working order, as dull or faulty tools can lead to accidents. 

Also, if you're working with treated or engineered wood, be mindful that it can produce harmful dust when cut or sanded, so use dust extraction systems and wear a suitable mask. 


Finishing Your Wood Boards: The Final Flourish

The finish you choose for your wood boards can significantly impact their durability and appearance. Options like varnish or polyurethane provide a protective coating and enhance the wood's natural grain. At the same time, paint allows you to introduce colour into your project but obscures the wood's natural beauty. Whereas oil finishes, like linseed oil or tung oil, penetrate the wood and offer a more natural look while still providing some protection.

As you can see, learning how to select the right wood board is a craft as intricate and rewarding as the woodworking projects it enables. 

At the end of the day, by factoring in the type of wood, the size and grade of the board, your project's purpose, and safety and finishing considerations, you'll be well-equipped to choose the perfect wood board for your needs. And in doing so, you'll join the generations of artisans who have transformed this simple, natural material into works of functional art.


Woodshop Direct: Your Quality Wood Provider

Choosing the right wood board is an essential step in ensuring the success of your woodworking project. By understanding the different types of wood boards and considering factors like the purpose of your project, your budget, and the wood's workability, you can make an informed decision that meets your specific needs.

At Woodshop Direct, we're committed to providing high-quality wood boards and expert advice to help you bring your woodworking visions to life.