FREE SAMPLE ISSUE FREE NEWSLETTER DIGITAL ISSUE PREVIEW

Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Houston, BC
    Posts
    390
    Real Name
    Brian

    Default Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    hey guys, I've wonder this from time to time, and it popped into my head again at work. Why is poplar called a soft hardwood? Just a thought.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Oakville
    Posts
    703

    Default Hardwood / Softwood

    The terms hardwood and softwood, in terms of tree identification, have nothing to do with how hard the wood is. A softwood tree is one that has needles while a hardwood has leaves.

    Another way of describing it is deciduous and evergreen.

    Poplar is called a soft hardwood because the wood is physically soft yet it comes from a deciduous ( broad leafed) tree.

    I have no idea why the names came to be that way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    441

    Default Re: Hardwood / Softwood

    Yeah....neither does anyone know. Probably back in King Aurther's day some bow maker probably decided on what was a soft or hardwood. LOL.
    Lee

  4. #4

    Default Re: why??

    I'm guessing it's because way back when the terms were coined, the only known trees were oak and pine

    Q: Is balsa a hardwood or softwood?

    A: Yes

    Cheers!

    Gary

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Houston, BC
    Posts
    390
    Real Name
    Brian

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    ah, I get it now. Just kept bugging me, now I know...thanks guys

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    GTA (Greater Toronto Area)
    Posts
    7,428
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by scroudt View Post
    ah, I get it now. Just kept bugging me, now I know...thanks guys
    Another forum member who will sleep better tonite!
    Kevin

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Atikokan, Rainy River District, Ontario.
    Posts
    6,262
    Real Name
    just what you thought :^')

    Default Re: Hardwood / Softwood

    So what about a White Cedar or an Arbutus ??

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Glanbrook - now Hamilton
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    I think this link may help:

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/us.../chapter01.pdf

    For the complete book for download go here:

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fp.../fplgtr113.htm

    Lots of reading

    Dave

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    I have always been under the impression that any tree that loses it's leaves in the fall/winter is classified as a deciduous tree and is therefore a hardwood species.

    A tree that retains it's needles in the fall/winter is classified as a coniferous tree and is therefore a softwood species.

    Then there is the Tamarac that loses it's needles in the fall/winter and is classified as a deciduous conifer, and by extension a softwood species.

    To answer Gary Madore: A Balsa tree is a hardwood species but a very very soft one!
    Mack C. in Brooklin (Whitby) ON
    It feels really great to sell a pen;
    It feels even greater to give one to a friend!

    If your presence doesn't make an impact,
    Your absence won't make a difference!

    I am a proud supporter of
    "Pens for Canadian Peacekeepers"!
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-o...95203433854962

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mack C. in Brooklin ON View Post
    To answer Gary Madore: A Balsa tree is a hardwood species but a very very soft one!
    I've also seen it classified as both, because it behaves differently based on the amount of moisture available (dry season vs. rainy season) ... It's sometimes classed as one of the ones you mentioned, like the Tamarac.

    Cheers!

    Gary

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Northern Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    2,517

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    As has been said, the distinction between Hardwoods and Non-Hardwoods is based on their being Conifer or Deciduous. Deciduous refers to trees that shed their leaves in the winter while Conifers are considered a Needle bearing (evergreen) tree. Althought, as usual, there are exceptions to the rules. Holly, some Magnolia, etc keep their leaves but are considered Deciduous (0r hardwoods) Then there is the Bald Cypress which has needles but sheds them in the winter and it is classified as a Dediduous tree. (actually the "needles" are very thin leaves) .

    Tis all corn-fussion but the classification of Hardwoods vs Non-hardwoods (should not be considered as a Softwood) Some of the Non-hardwoods are harder than some of the Hardwoods and some Hardwoods are softer than some non-hardwoods.... Still confused?

    As a rule... Deciduous trees are harder than Conifers and so they are called Hardwood.

    The Spring/Summer growth rings are a different matter all together. Both (non tropical) tree species exibit growth rings based on the growth cycles, In the spring when growing conditions are great, there is rapid cell development as a result they are larger and more porous (being softer in texture) While later in the summer the growth slows and becomes dense and smaller cells resulting in harder wood. Tropical trees do not express this growth patterns as drasticly although they too have seasonal rest periods and will develop slight differeances in their patterns.

    There is not cut and dried rule to follow as each is enfluenced by location, weather, and Al Gore's Global warming, or the reality of the approaching ice age. Grown on the east side of the hill or the west, Near a creek or in urban concrete, all these things change the Annual Rings.
    Bill "Hickory" Simpson

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Aylmer, QC
    Posts
    94

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    Bizarre, Iíve ask my wood physic course teacher the same question when I studied woodworking in Victoriaville. His answer was that Leaf trees such as maple, oak and ash are all considered hardwood trees. On the other hand, evergreens such as pine cedar and spruce are softwoods. Even if poplar is part of hardwood family, it his to soft to be consider as a hardwood.


    This as nothing to do with the way it grows but more with the nature of this tree in general. Trees actually grows faster in the spring time, when the snow melts, then diring any other season of the year. The moisture contained in the ground from the melted snow eventually diminishes and the growing process will slow down. Coming fall, trees will slow down their growing process even more and coming winter time the gorwing process will stop completely. This is why we see annual rings in the end grain of the wood. Popular in general is the hardwood that grows the fastest in the spring time. This is why the wood is so soft.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why is poplar called a soft hardwood?

    Here is a link to hardwood and softwood strength,

    http://www.woodbin.com/ref/wood/strength_table.htm

    with some interesting numbers.

Similar Threads

  1. Hardwood?
    By GSP in forum Woodworking
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 02-19-2008, 12:53 PM
  2. Prefinished Hardwood Flooring - installation Q.
    By ArtMulder in forum Home Improvements
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 01-10-2008, 04:18 PM
  3. One hardwood floor meets another...
    By ArtMulder in forum Home Improvements
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 08-15-2007, 10:05 AM
  4. Moving from softwood to hardwood
    By mikeguil in forum Woodworking
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 08-15-2007, 07:44 AM
  5. Touching up prefinished Hardwood Floor
    By ArtMulder in forum Finishing and Refinishing
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-05-2006, 08:51 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •