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Hardwood Softwood White Oak White Pine Augusta Forestry Center Kelly ReedExamples of a hardwood and softwood from Augusta Forestry Center | Photos by Kelly Reed

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HARDWOOD AND SOFTWOOD /ˈhɑrdˌwʊd ænd ˈsɔftˌwʊd/


Hardwoods and softwoods are the two categories most often used to separate tree species for various industrial uses.  Generally speaking, gymnosperms such as pines, conifers, and other evergreens fit into the softwood category while deciduous angiosperms such as oaks, maples, and birches fit into the hardwood category.

Hardwoods are generally denser than softwoods and have a longer growing cycle.  There are some exceptions, of course, as balsa and bass wood are considered hardwoods while obviously being softer than most softwoods.

Softwoods are the most widely used in industrial processes due to their cheapness and availability.  Hardwoods are relatively expensive and are mostly used as veneers and other facing materials on furniture.

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