Which Wood Warps the Least? (Stable Woods That Warp & Shrink Less)


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Just think of the scenario where you order some wood. After a long wait, the wood finally comes to you out of shape because it has become warped. This kind of situation is more common than you would like to believe.

Moisture and humidity levels have a direct impact on maintaining the shape of the wood.  It can lead to ruining a perfect woodworking project. If wood is used for building structures and it warps, it could be dangerous.

You might be wondering why would warps. Wood warping occurs when there is an inconsistent level of humidity within the structure of the wood. So, what happens here is shrinkage occurs in the drier parts of the wood. It creates internal stress, deforming the structure of the material.

In this post, we feature a few types of wood that are less prone to warping. You must have a few questions on why wood warps, and what can be done to prevent it. We have identified a few interesting issues and provide answers for you in this post.

Best Woods That Don’t Warp

Redwood

Redwood tree
Redwood tree (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The combination of the straight grain pattern and natural chemicals (known as tannins) inside redwood helps keep shrinkage and warping at bay. It also helps the wood to become resistant to rot. Although redwood is an expensive wood, it remains prevalent. We use it for building decks, patios, outdoor furniture, and a variety of outdoor structures. It also helps that redwood is pleasant to look at and easy to work on.

Cedar

Cedar wood
Cedar wood (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

We consider cedar to be one of the densest species of wood that you can find. You are least likely to see adverse weather conditions causing cracks in this wood. Cedar also occupies the prominent position of being one of the lightest hardwoods. Its stiffness makes it solid wood, pound for pound. Cedar produces natural chemicals that impart a certain degree of insect resistance to the wood. It can be costly at places, and can even exceed the price of redwood in some instances.

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir wood
Douglas Fir wood (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

With Douglas fir, you have to wait until the moisture content in the wood is balanced out by the moisture content in the air. Under such circumstances, the wood is said to be seasoned. Seasoned wood will exhibit a minimum amount of warping.

It is a regular practice to dry wood in a kiln before use. However, it is quite common to receive Douglas fir shipped in an uncured state. If you receive wood in this condition, you can nail it firmly in place and then leave it to become cured at the location.

Cypress

Cypress
Cypress (Image: James St. John)

When it comes to wood that warps the least, another popular choice is cypress. It has a pale Honey color, straight grain, and a fair degree of resistance to warping. Cypress is quite a durable variety of wood. You are likely to find a few knots in this wood.

You will find it easy to work with cypress, and it also responds well to hand tools and power tools. It makes suitable fences, siding, interior walls, window boxes, and other similar outdoor structures. Cypress will weather naturally if left outside; however, you would do well to apply a stain or paint to it for enhanced durability.

Pine

Pine softwood
Pine softwood (Image: morebyless)

This honey or straw-colored wood has a straight grain and pleasant smell. Pine is an incredible softwood, so you have to take care while handling it to ensure that it doesn’t get dented or scratched. One of the essential features of pinewood is that it has a fair degree of resistance to warping.

Pinewood features a lot in Amish furniture. You will find this wood also in framing, roofs, decking, and all sorts of outdoor projects. It takes stain well, and it is easy to paint. You can drive nails into this pinewood quickly without fear of it splitting.

Other Types of Wood That Warp the Least

Walnut wood
Walnut wood (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Other than the five kinds of wood that we have mentioned above, some other woods also resist warping. Some of these woods are yellow poplar and cherry. The strength and tight grain of cherry wood combined with its appealing reddish-brown color make it a preferred choice for building furniture.

Walnut, which also has close grain comes in rich chocolate brown color is exceptionally appealing. Yellow poplar, on the other hand, contains tannins in which impart decay-resistant properties to it. This wood serves well as siding material as it does not warp and shows decay resistance.

Oak is also a popular wood that we use because it is not prone to warping. You will find this wood commonly used for making Amish furniture. Oak is also a popular choice for all sorts of outdoor wood structures like decks, patios, and porches due to its high resistance to moisture.

Wood Warping FAQs

Although we have given a lot of information about woodworking in another informative post, few FAQs may come to mind:

How Do You Treat Wood, so It Doesn’t Warp?

Softwood endgrain
Softwood end-grain (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Be careful to choose a type of wood that doesn’t warp easily. For instance, wood with quarter sawn or rift sawn grain is less prone to warping. Another good idea is to cut away the waste sections of your wood as soon as you receive it. You will find it easier to remove the warp from the resultant smaller sections.

Does Staining Wood Prevent Warping?

If you seal the ends of wood, it could prevent the wood from warping. The ends of wood release moisture 10 to 12 times more than and the other surfaces. By staining wood, you prevent moisture from entering the wood and the wood from warping as well. Using a good quality moisture meter can also help to ensure wood has correctly cured and that the whole batch of wood you’re using for the project has the same moisture content – to avoid some pieces shrinking or expanding more than others.

What Makes Wood Warp?

Wood warps as a result of the dynamics created by the moisture within the structure of the material. It occurs as a result of the change in equilibrium between the moisture content in the wood and the relative humidity of the atmosphere. If wood contains moisture, it continues to give out that moisture until there is an equilibrium between the wood’s moisture content and the atmosphere. As the wood dries, it shrinks, causing internal deformation, which manifests itself as warping.

Does Poplar Warp Easily?

Poplar contains Chemicals called tannins that have decay-resistant properties. Tannins also make the wood waterproof, rendering it less prone to warping.

Conclusion

We hope that you can benefit from our post on which wood warps the least.  Warping in wood is more complicated than you would imagine. Many factors contribute to warping, and this can occur at the various stages that wood goes through from when it is timber to the time that you use it for a woodworking project.

We have tried to give you a brief but accurate account of how wood warps. Then, we went into details of the different types of wood that are less prone to warping.  We highlighted some of the common FAQs, assuming that you would have some questions about warping in wood.

You should have a clearer picture of how wood warps, the types of wood that warp the least, and what you can do to prevent it from happening. With this information, you should be able to have better control the wood that you use and keep deformities to the minimum in your woodworking projects.

Featured Image by (Britt)

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