As a woodworker, you will know that wood is one of the most versatile mediums of building materials that you can get. Many factors make wood durable, versatile, and easy to work with. In many cases, wood has some advantages even over metal, steel, and concrete.
Woodworkers will always be comfortable using lightweight wood that is easy to work with. There is a general misconception because lightwood is softer, it is not as strong as heavier wood. There are many light kinds of wood that are sufficiently strong as well. Mahogany and pinewood are prime examples of light woods that are strong.
Why do we need light wood?
If you want to build packing crates and boxes, you need wood that is lightweight but strong. Packing crates and pallets need to withstand heavy loads that may travel for thousands of miles.
The lighter the wood the better but it also needs to have strength. Woods like pine make excellent packing crates. Lightwoods in packing crates and boxes have a clear advantage over cardboard cartons in more ways than one.
Another common requirement for lightweight wood is for making shelves where any other type of wood could prove to be too heavy.
Lightest Types of Wood
Intending to serve the purpose of making packing crates and shelves, here are a few of the commonest light woods that you might need:
Douglas fir is a much sought-after wood in the construction business, particularly for framing. It is a softwood that has a smooth texture but it has adequate strength for making boxes out of it.
Another useful application for Douglas fir is for making lightweight bed frames. It also makes other structural reinforcements like struts for shelving.
Fir plywood is manufactured plywood and no surprises from which trees it comes from. It is an engineered wood that is lightweight but strong and very useful in providing requirements for structural framing.
It is extremely cost-effective and you can get moisture-resistant grades of fir plywood. You can sand and finish premium grades of fir plywood to make smart-looking, useful, and lightweight shelves that can withstand heavy loads.
Pine is good for making smaller boxes. There are different types of pinewood available, yellow pine being the most widely used in the United States. Pine cuts easily and takes fasteners like nails and screws well.
You can knock together a pinewood crate in practically a few minutes, given the suitable tools. Pine is not as strong as fir but weighs less and is much easier to work with.
One of the common species from the cedar family is western red cedar. The wood is reddish and straight-grained, slightly aromatic, and moderately soft. Western red cedar makes good outdoor furniture and it survives well in humid environments.
This wood is also moderately-priced and being strong, makes great garden furniture. It shows minimum expansion when exposed to extreme humidity. Even the slight swelling that might occur when exposed to moisture can be minimized by painting the wood.
Maple is another light wood that you can find across the United States and throughout the world. It is a light-colored wood and the colors may range from yellow shades to white and sometimes with a bit of pink.
Maple is moderately light and does not have as long a life as several hardwoods. But it serves a vital role in the construction industry. Maple also makes good musical instruments and indoor furniture. Due to its limited resistance to moisture, insects, and rot, maple is more of an indoors type of wood.
Here is wood that is native to the central and eastern regions of the United States. Good quality ash is lightweight, shock-resistant, and bends well. So, we use ash to make support structures. The straight and birdseye knots make ash a favored choice for interior doors.
Among lightweight woods, walnut is a bit of a wildcard entry on this list. It is one of the expensive options in the wood among hardwoods, but it is surprisingly light. So, we felt compelled to include walnut wood in this list of the lightest types of wood.
It plays a major role in making furniture which needs to be moved around a lot. Walnut has a dark, chocolaty color to the extent of looking purple and it makes good wall paneling and flooring in addition to furniture.
Another added advantage of using walnut is that it doesn’t crack easily and is more or less shockproof.
Balsa is the lightest type of wood in the United States. It is however stronger than many lighter kinds of wood and played a major role in building airplanes in the early days. Today balsa still makes model airplanes and it also finds use in many areas of boat building.
In 1970, a crew sailed a raft made of balsa wood from Ecuador to Australia. They covered 8,600 miles (13,800 kilometers) in 160 days. It was the longest voyage in recorded history way back then.
Cherry is one of the lighter woods but is also easily among one of the best-looking woods used for various purposes in the United States. The best and highest quality furniture is made from cherry wood.
Cherry is moderately expensive but has a fairly long life. It is well-known for its use in making furniture, flooring, and paneling. It creates a warm ambiance in any room where it is used.
Alder is another hardwood worth mentioning here. It is among the softest of hardwoods and perhaps with a slightly higher tensile strength than pine.
Alder is graded very highly as lumber goes and you can get a glossy finish to this wood, which adds to its good looks.
Applications of Light Wood
You can use light wood in different areas of your home. You can also vary the styles from rustic to classic or modernistic, according to the way you use the wood.
Lightwoods tend to impart a clean and sterile effect to the environment and particularly where pastels or light colors are used. But that is not to say that you cannot use it in areas of darker shades also, where it can present a striking contrast.
Here are the various locations in a home where you can use light woods:
In a Bedroom
In a bedroom, light wood can impart a comfortable feel to floors and furniture. You can use it for flooring, cabinets, dressers, or perhaps even bed headboards. It imparts a soothing feeling of lightness and warmth to a bedroom.
In a Living Room
You can use light wood in a living room for making bookshelves, coffee tables, bookcases, and wooden flooring. Fixing it with neutral tones is possible in a living room or you can even add contrast against darker colors as a daring move.
In the Kitchen
In a kitchen, you need to add clarity and practicality in the way you use light wood. Putting a set of chairs and tables made of light wood in a kitchen creates a comfortable look. You can even add a couple of light wood stools or make your kitchen cabinets and shelves of light wood. You get a serene but practical atmosphere in your kitchen space.
Light wood comes from many different wood species but you can most commonly find them from walnut, cherry, and pine. As a woodworker, lightwood may pose a challenge to you in terms of creativity. You can use some of the lightest types of wood in various locations as we have described above.
If you are a bit vigilant about how and where you use light woods, you can contribute to the look of a home through the wood you add to it. If used well, you can create some very interesting effects in the ambiance of the rooms where you apply your woodworking skills.