Basic’s of Woodworking

Introduction to wood

Hawthorn wood

Hawthorn log sliced down the centre


Entering into woodwork of any kind has it’s basic rules, properties and behaviours; a little knowledge before you start out can make a big difference in improving your beginnings and lessen any issues during or after creation of any wooden item.

I’ll outline some of the basics and give you a ruff guide on the one thing you will all use; so our starting point will be to look at the materials you select and use; that of the wood its self.

Timber Structure & Behaviour

Fibre cells forming wood grain.                      (Magnified)

Wood fibres (grain)

All timber regardless of type have common theme’s and behaviour; structure of the wood its self, the grain being made up of tubular type microfibers.

Timber structure is made up of long hollow fibres they are extremely small but each fibre contains moisture and its the level of moisture within these fibrous cells that alters the shape and size of timber by expansion or shrinkage.

Another shared attribute is that of grain direction and how it effects the use of tools on timber, machine or hand they are all effected by grain direction and is something to learn about as well as the movement of wood.





We will look at these aspects in more detail in further page’s so you can form some basic knowledge that I hope will enable you to:

  • Select timber
  • Understand when its ready for use
  • Know the easiest way to work the wood
  • Understand wood reacts both during and after construction.

Timber Types

Pine timber prepared PAR or 4 Sq

Pine planking

A multitude of types and species exist from common to exotic from all over the world, I’m not about to attempt to make a concise list; I will however try and list some of the more common plane and exotics timbers for you, bare in mind Im in England in the UK so common refers to my geographical location, whats common here could be exotic elsewhere and vice versa,

The most basic of the types is separated into two that of Hardwood & Softwood. Hardwoods tend to have a tighter grain more dense, this makes them long lasting.
Softwoods have more open grain such as in the image of the pine planking: and are not so long lasting particularly outside in the elements; as a result of these factors it will be no surprise to realise that Hardwoods dictate a higher cost due to there quality and longevity.


© Mark Miller (Miller’s Of Sedgegmoor)