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Softwood vs. Hardwood: Finding the Right Threaded Inserts for Each Type of Wood

March 8th, 2022Generated with Avocode.Ellipse 1By E-Z Lok

The difference between hardwood and softwood is relatively clear cut, with a few exceptions. Those differences directly impact the types of projects and kinds of threaded inserts appropriate for each. This article will compare softwood vs. hardwood, explain how to tell the difference between the two and explore the best threaded inserts for hardwood and softwood.

What Is the Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood?

The essential difference between hardwood and softwood concerns the seeds each type of tree has. Hardwood trees have seeds encased in a fruit, shell or casing, while softwood trees have "naked" seeds. Hardwood seeds usually fall around the tree so that hardwood trees are spaced closer together. Softwood seeds are frequently blown around, resulting in trees that grow over a wider area.

Another fundamental difference between hardwood trees and softwood trees deals with the tree trunks' cell structure. A hardwood tree uses vessel elements, which look like pores, to transport water and nutrients throughout the tree.

A softwood tree transports water and produces sap through medullary rays, which run perpendicular to the tree's growth rings. Medullary rays transport nutrients from the tree's center to the outer layers. Softwood trees also have tracheids, special cells that transport water.

What Is Hardwood?

Hardwood trees belong to a group of plants called angiosperm, a Greek word meaning "vessel seed," which indicates their encased seeds. Hardwood trees generally have broad leaves and include species like:

  • Alder
  • Beech
  • Hickory
  • Mahogany
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Teak
  • Walnut

Hardwood is typically hard and dense. One example of a hardwood tree that produces wood that's less dense and hard is balsa.

What Is Softwood?

Softwood trees are part of a group called gymnosperm, a Greek word meaning "naked seed." Softwood trees usually have needles and produce cones. They include familiar species such as:

  • Cedar
  • Douglas fir
  • Juniper
  • Redwood
  • Spruce

Softwood is generally softer and less dense than hardwood. However, the yew is an example of a softwood tree that produces harder, denser wood.

How to Tell the Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood

Now that we've gone over the softwood vs. hardwood classification system, it would be helpful to explain how to tell the difference between hardwood and softwood.

An easy way to tell the difference between hardwood and softwood is to take a chisel to a section of the wood. If it chips easily, you likely have softwood. If it doesn't chip or splinter off, you likely have hardwood.

If you don't want to damage the wood, you can visually inspect the piece. The differences in their anatomical structure will provide telltale clues about what type of wood you have. Because hardwood has pores, the result is a prominent grain pattern. Since softwood doesn't have pores, it displays a much lighter grain pattern.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood

We've talked about a few of the essential differences between hardwood and softwood, but other comparisons can be made between the two woods. Review these frequently asked questions to learn more.

What Are the Characteristics of Softwood vs. Hardwood?

Softwood generally is not as durable as hardwood, which is also more fire-resistant and better able to weather the elements than softwood. On the other hand, softwood is easier to machine, drill and cut than hardwood.

Which Type of Tree Is More Common?

Hardwood trees are far more common than softwood trees. Despite this, hardwood is more expensive than softwood because hardwood trees grow at a slower rate and are harder to machine.

What Are the Uses of Hardwood and Softwood?

Both hardwood and softwood are used to make furniture. Hardwood is also found in applications like flooring, construction and decking. Softwood's uses include framing lumber and trim and finish components.

The Best Threaded Inserts for Softwood and Hardwood

Now that we know what woods are considered hardwood and softwood, we can discuss suitable threaded inserts for each type. The best threaded inserts for hardwood are E-Z Knife™ (Knife Thread) Inserts, which feature a proprietary external "knife" thread that slices into the wood and offers superior holding power.

On the other hand, E-Z Hex™ (Hex Drive) Inserts are the best threaded inserts for softwood. They provide exceptional holding power. Both types help prevent stripping and thread erosion.

Get Your Threaded Inserts for Hardwood and Softwood from E-Z LOK Today

E-Z LOK has decades of experience providing industry-leading threaded inserts for a wide range of applications, including woodworking. Our threaded inserts for hardwood and softwood deliver the holding power you need for your project. Order yours now or contact us with your questions.

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