To an untrained eye, all woods may seem strong and ideal for use in building; however, some are more able to withstand more pressure than others. All are rated on the Janka Hardness Scale. This scale, which indicates a wood's strength, measures how much force it takes to drive a steel ball into the piece of wood. With this knowledge, builders can make more informed selection decisions, ensuring that the boards they pick are ready to withstand the wear and tear they will face.
Cherry is not just a visually appealing dark wood, it is also one of the strongest options. It is rated "very hard" on the Janka Hardness Scale. This wood, which has a red undertone that makes cherry a quite fitting name, sands smooth. Because of the cost associated with it, few use it in construction, but instead select it when building furnishings, such as beds and end tables, saving the pricey cuts of wood for decorative pieces in which the beauty will be appreciated.
Ebony is an exotic wood that also receives a "very hard" rating on the hardness scale. This wood features black tones and is predominantly an export of Africa. Unlike other woods with easily discernible grain, ebony has a light grain that is almost invisible due to its hue. Like cherry, it is almost always used in furniture construction, not building.
Hickory proves a popular choice for builders seeking a strong wood option, as it is indigenous to the continental United States. This wood is rated "hard", and comes in an assortment of hues ranging from reddish to white. Because it can be harvested from domestic trees, it is often substantially less expensive, making it a wood that builders can use in an assortment of different building projects, ranging from construction to furniture building.
Ash, a wood rated as "hard", proves a popular choice for use in wooden sporting equipment. This type is ideal for sporting equipment because it is strong yet not as heavy as some other hard woods. It is also able to absorb shock without splintering. Everything from baseball bats to boat oars can be made from ash. This wood is light in hue and contains visible grain markings, making it a relatively common looking wood.
While not as strong as some, oak is an affordable wood choice. It ranks lower on the scale compared to some others, but still receives a "hard" rating. Because it is readily available in the United States, it is often the wood of choice for building. It comes in a variety of hues ranging from red to light brown. Oak has dominant grains that many find appealing, making it a popular choice for furniture crafting.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.