Human beings have used wood since the dawn of mankind. In fact, early people became quite skilled at molding a piece of wood into a bowl, a weapon or a child’s toy. Over time, wood was used to build ships and of course houses or dwellings. Historians believe that the Egyptians especially became adept at fashioning things out of wood, especially animal figures, furniture, tools, wheels and weapons. Fast forward thousands of years and we still craft wood into thousands of things, much of which becomes high-end items for show as much as the necessities of life. Over the ages we have learned which woods are better for tables, which are sturdy enough for structures and which are just right for use in art.
Types of Wood
There are different types of wood, but basically they are broken down into two kinds: hard wood and soft wood. Don’t read too much into the words. Hard woods are not stronger than soft hoods. Their names come from the kind of trees they come from. The scientific name for soft woods is gymnosperms or trees whose seeds drop to the ground with no covering on them. An example is a pine tree that drops pine cones. Hard woods, or angiosperms, kick out seeds that have “hard” coverings, such as an apple or an acorn. You can also break it down like this: hard woods lose their leaves in winter, while soft woods (evergreens for the most part) keep their leaves from season to season. There is another distinction between the two: soft woods tend to be easier to cut, while hard woods are more dense, so some people consider hard woods as more sturdier. Soft woods general come from fir, pine and cedar, which tend to grow straight up and they grow faster, so soft woods tend to be less expensive. One more note about soft woods – they are more easily grown on tree farms, so that means you are not contributing to the deterioration of trees when you use soft wood.
Get the Basics
Wood continues to be used today for so many things in our everyday lives. For some, though, it’s used to build things of a more personal nature, or as a hobby. Maybe you want to do something as simple as build a birdhouse with your son or daughter, or a tree house for the kids, or you may want to take on a more Herculean task, such as building your own home. Actually, these things are not complicated, but some general knowledge of wood and how to craft wood to your liking would certainly make the job easier. You can learn the fundamentals of woodworking, as well as what tools to use, how to pick the right wood and even finishing with this class.
Matching Woods And Projects
Let’s start with some soft woods:
- Cedar – a lot of craftsmen use cedar for a variety of reasons. One is its distinctive pleasant smell. The more popular cedar is the Western red cedar, and as its name suggests, it is reddish in color. It also has a straight grain, so it is commonly used to build furniture and building exteriors (such as decks). This is because it will handle moisture without rotting.
- Pine – there are several kinds of pine, such as yellow, sugar, white and Ponderosa (think “Bonanza”). Pine is used for furniture. It is easy to work with, so a lot of craftsmen use it for carving.
- Fir – as does cedar, fir has a reddish tint to it, and it also has a distinct straight grain. It’s popular with builders on a larger scale, but people that are looking to craft wood like it because it is so in expensive.
- Redwood – this is another soft wood, and like cedar, it has a natural resistance to water. It’s also easy to work with.
The Hard Woods
Now let’s go over some hard woods. People who craft wood tend to prefer hard woods. That’s because hard woods tend to have more of a variety of textures, grain patterns and colors. However, hard woods tend to be pricier. One of the reasons for this it that hard woods take a much longer time to grow. There is concern over the destruction of forests that are predominantly hard wood. It is recommended that you check with the National Hardwood Lumber Association to make sure that you buy from a company that is not contributing to the aggressive destruction of forests, such as those in Brazil.
- Mahogany – this is renowned for making beautiful furniture. The grain tends to be a deep brown and it has a straight grain, which takes to staining very well. However, the trees that mahogany comes from are not being grown on farms, so it is an expensive wood that will probably not be found at your big retail home improvement store.
- Ash – this wood tends to be lighter in color and is used as a replacement for white oak. Although it’s easy to work with, as with mahogany, it’s not that easy to find. You’ll have to check lumberyards to find it.
- Cherry – a lot of folks who craft wood use this wood. It stains well, is easy to craft and stays strong for a very long time. This is a wood grown on farms, so you are not contributing to its demise. It’s common for use to build furniture, but you will probably have to go to a lumberyard to find it.
- Birch – this is available in white and yellow. Birch tends to be inexpensive and easy to find, even at home improvement stores. But you are likely to find more variety at a lumberyard.
- Maple – as with Birch, Maple has two varieties: soft and hard. A lot of people who do craft work don’t go for the hard version because it is tough to work with. The soft variety is actually very stable. It has a fine grain and will be less expensive that a lot of other hard woods.
- Oak – this is popular for use in building furniture, it’s easy to work with and also comes in two versions: white and red. The white variety tends to be water resistant, so it’s a good choice for outdoor projects, such as a tree house or outdoor furniture.
- Poplar – this is a low-cost hard wood that is actually quite soft, so it’s easy to handle. Popular tends to be white with brown streaks, and because of this variation in color, people tend to not use it for furniture that will be out in the open. For example, it may be used for a dresser in the bedroom.
- Walnut – rich in color, walnut is popular because it is easy to work with. It is, however, one of the more expensive cuts of hard wood. A lot of craftsmen use it to enhance a piece as a shelf or inlay. It’s not easy to find, however, and may have to be special ordered.
- Teak – this is another wood that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. It is very weather resistant and gorgeous to look at, as it offers a golden color. Check lumberyards or this kind of wood, too, may need to be special ordered.
Build It, And They Will Come
People love original things, especially when it comes to decorating their new home and especially their backyard. If you are a handy person and love to craft wood, you can probably make a pretty good living once you get your name and reputation out there. Just some of the wood-made items people look for include book cases, shelves for any room, clothes organizers, dressers, cabinets, outside chair and benches, mounted wall cabinets and tables and chairs. There are even shops that sell wooden toys, and especially at holiday times, you can earn good extra income making everything from letter boxes to napkin holders. It’s simply up to you and your imagination. Let’s talk business. If you are into craft wood work, you probably truly enjoy working a piece of wood into a fine piece of furniture or something cool for your kids (like a tree house!). So you put up this amazing tree house and all the neighborhood kids start hanging out in it. Next thing you know, the Johnsons from down the road are wondering where that tree house came from and how do they get one. Before you know it, you could have a nice side gig building things for your neighbors, friends and family. But you need some business sense. This course will help you learn how to take what you love and turn it into a profitable business. It includes video exercises and it’s not that time consuming. Actually, it will probably take less time than it does for you to build that tree house! Maybe you’re not the kind of person that goes around bragging or showing off your craft work. You can still be successful at selling it, right from the comfort of your home, in that chair that you built from the computer that sits on the desk that you made! Learn how to successfully sell stuff on eBay. A handyman that can build things from scratch is very valuable in today’s high-tech world, where people still love the look and even the scent of a fine wood piece. Build it, and they will come – this holds so true when it comes to wood works. But it can’t hurt to encourage them to come with some good online marketing techniques.