Hardwood comes from deciduous or broad leaf trees, where as softwood comes from coniferous or evergreens. Hardwood typically is available in more colours and textures than softwoods although the majority of wood materials found in stores will be softwoods. The reason for this is that softwoods are less expensive and most applicable for basic cutting jobs. Softwoods grow relatively faster and form straighter tree trucks making harvesting and processing faster and less expensive. Examples of softwood include pine, spruce, cedar, fir, larch, and douglas-fir, while, examples of hardwood include mahogany, teak, walnut, oak, ash, elm, aspen, poplar, birch, and maple.
For woodworkers, the material to use can depend on many factors. Softwood is generally more suitable for construction applications while hardwood for furniture. A critical factor when deciding on the choice of wood is the finishing requirements. For instance, if you choose to stain finish the product, typically you would not want woods known for their colour and beauty when stain finished. Painting or staining is also known to be more suitable for hardwood rather than softwood.
A general rule of thumb for cutting large and long pieces of wood is to use high feed rates and vice versa for small and shorter pieces. Whenever possible, operators prefer to use upcut router bits as it is more efficient and better at extracting dust. Upcut bits pull the chips up and out of the cut while downcut bits cut with a downward pressure packing the chips down. Downcut bits leave a crisper and cleaner edge on the surface of the material but require a slower feed rate giving it more time to extract wood chips from the cut. The choice between upcut and downcut tooling is dependent on the application; for instance when cutting mortises its best to use upcut due to the depth of the hole (you would want more wood chips pulled out). Visit cncrouterstore.ca for all your router bit needs including a large selection of both upcut and downcut bits, and check out our available MultiCam routers here: CNC Routers to help improve your manufacturing workflow through increasing efficiency.