When a Wood Strength Chart Comes in Handy

While most people don’t walk around with a wood strength chart in their pockets, those who need this handy reference do indeed keep it around. As it turns out, there are many reasons why you need a wood strength chart, from choosing hardwood flooring to making furniture.

However, before you can use a wood strength chart, you first need to understand what it means. The Janka Hardness Scale is the main unit of measurement when it comes to various types of wood. Knowing where each type of wood falls on the scale and what those numbers mean is the key to using the right wood for your projects and home.

At Hardwood Bargains, we know just how handy a wood strength chart can be when you’re picking out your flooring, and we’re excited to share all our secrets with you. So, let’s jump into the Janka Hardness Scale and find out how it can help you make all your flooring dreams a reality!

What Is the Janka Hardness Scale?

The Janka Hardness Scale is a numeric scale that’s used to describe how hard a type of wood is. It doesn’t have any way of measuring anything else, such as how easy that wood is to scratch or scuff. Instead, it simply measures how hard the wood is when someone is trying to drive a small steel ball into the wood to a depth that’s up to half of the ball’s diameter.

After performing the test, a number is assigned to the wood. The higher the number, the harder it is. For example, Patagonian Rosewood is one of the highest on the scale, coming in at 3840. On the lower side of the scale are pine and fir woods, placed on the scale between 660 and 890. In order to choose the best wood for a project, it’s essential to use this scale.

The Janka Hardness Scale has a few shortcomings, like the fact that it only measures one type of wood hardness and not others (such as the woods’ scratch and gouge-ability).

However, it does a good job of helping people understand the overall sturdiness of the wood that they are considering. Keeping this type of wood strength chart on hand can really prove its use over time.

Using a Wood Strength Chart

Now that you understand the Janka Hardness Scale, as well as why it matters to know the strength of a piece of wood, it’s time to cover some of the uses of a wood strength chart. For example, having one on hand can help with:

Choosing Hardwood Flooring

As you probably already know, hardwood flooring is designed to last for a very long time if it’s taken care of properly. Over time, most wood flooring will need to be sanded down and refinished to keep it looking as new as possible. However, some types of hardwood flooring last longer than others, which is where the Janka Hardness Scale comes into play.

While softer woods, like fir and pine, can be used for flooring, their lack of strength makes them susceptible to dents and gouges. If you have a floor that receives a lot of foot traffic or you have a mix of pets and kids, you may not want a pine floor because you’ll spend a lot of time repairing it.

Instead, choose a harder wood, one that will stand up to plenty of little feet and animal claws walking on it and dropping things.

Maple and oak, both of which are in the middle of the chart at 1450 and 1360, will definitely better hold up. Other options, like hickory and pecan, are both at 1820 on the Janka Hardness Scale, meaning that they will also make great floors.

Making Arts and Crafts

On top of using a wood hardness scale when choosing a type of hardwood flooring, people who enjoy getting creative and making arts and crafts also need to know which wood is best for their projects.

For example, creating a wooden dollhouse out of a soft wood may shorten its lifespan because it won’t be able to handle the pressure of being constantly used. On the other hand, soft wood is good for activities like whittling and carving.

If you make things that can be used for other crafts, like looms, then you want to use a harder wood that can handle the weight of thread and yarn and the pressure of pulling on and tightening the strands. Choosing the wrong wood can lead to a very frustrating project that’s abandoned before it really begins.

Completing Hobbyist Activities

Other types of woodworking activities, such as building radio-controlled airplanes, require the use of the right kind of wood. People who plan on putting their homemade, model-sized airplanes into the skies need to use a type of wood that’s light enough to not weigh the airplane down. At the same time, these artisans need a wood that’s strong enough to support an engine and hold up to wind speeds.

In addition to radio-controlled airplane builders, other modelers, including those who build boats, cars, and trucks, also need to know that they’re using the right type of wood for the project. Understanding the wood strength chart helps with this quite a bit, as they’re able to check out the various characteristics of a plank before choosing it.

Finishing Backyard Projects

For all our DIYers out there, there are many different backyard projects that require the use of wood. From people who build their own decks or porches to those who need to use wood frames to pour a perfect concrete pad, the strength and hardness of the wood are critical.

A softer wood may be less expensive, but will it hold up when you put hundreds of pounds of furniture and people on that built deck or porch? If you’re pouring concrete, will the wood support the borders of your newly poured concrete pad so that the edges stay crisp and clear? These are just a few of the many backyard projects that require knowledge of wood hardness.

Making Furniture

Have you ever sat on a piece of furniture that you’ve made, only to have it collapse under you? Needless to say, it’s definitely not fun! This means that you’ve made it from wood that’s too soft to support your weight (among other issues, like not fastening the joints correctly). If you want to build furniture that will stand the test of time, then it’s important to reach for one of the harder varieties.

With that said, since woodworking involves slicing the wood down to size, you also don’t want a type of wood that’s too hard, as it will be difficult to work with. Using the Patagonian Rosewood example from above, this very hard and strong type of wood may be too tough to build furniture out of if you don’t have the right tools. So, it’s important to find the right balance.

Inspecting Buildings

Building inspectors also need to know what a wood’s strength is. After all, their job is to prevent buildings from collapsing. Knowing that a frame is made of a certain type of wood that can withstand pressure helps them determine whether that house’s frame is strong enough. This information protects homeowners’ safety and their financial investments.

Writing Building Codes

To go along with inspecting buildings, those who write and approve the building codes also need to understand the Janka Hardness Scale. They are the ones who create the codes that the inspectors need to follow, so it makes sense that they understand which types of wood can be used when building a home or deck and which ones cannot.

Knowing How Quickly Wood Will Burn

Continuing the theme of people who need to know what a wood’s strength is in order to do their jobs are those who put out fires for a living. Yes, firefighters need to be able to gauge a wood’s strength in order to tell just how long it will burn or smolder as they’re trying to put out the fire. Without this knowledge, they’d just be guessing, which puts everyone’s safety at risk.

Working on Research and Development

Research and development of any kind, whether done by the military to create new housing for soldiers in the field or by private companies trying to build the very best new furniture, also need to know and understand a wood strength chart.

In order to conduct their experiments appropriately, they must study every variable, including the hardness of the wood.

The Strength of Knowledge

From choosing the best hardwood floors from Hardwood Bargains to picking out wood to build furniture and more, wood strength charts, also known as Janka Hardness Scales, can come in handy more than you think.

Those who spend a lot of time working with wood, or even using it to improve their homes, need to have a solid understanding of which types of wood are stronger than others. After all, you always want your wood flooring, furniture, and DIY projects to stand strong!


Janka Wood Flooring Hardness Chart | The Spruce

Janka Hardness | The Wood Database

Beginner Woodworking Projects: 19 Quick, Easy & Small Ideas | Family Handyman

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