© 2012 Burt Forest Products
Hardwood is wood from non-monocot angiosperm trees. Hardwood contrasts with softwood (which comes from conifer trees). Hardwoods are not necessarily harder than softwoods. In both groups there is an enormous variation in actual wood hardness. The hardest hardwoods are much harder than any softwood. There are about a hundred times as many hardwoods as softwoods.
Hardwood Species Identification & Characteristics resources:
Species Samples - more available
BOARD FOOT CALCULATION
Hardwoods sell in grades by the board foot, a basic unit of measurement that equals a 1"-thick board that's 12" wide and 12" long. That's because hardwoods -- unlike softwoods -- aren't cut and milled as dressed, sized lumber in standard nominal dimensions (2X4, 1X6, 4X4, etc.) to only be cut to length for construction. Instead, mills saw hardwoods into random widths and lengths to best take advantage of the clear wood in a log. Hardwoods do come in nominal thicknesses, such as 1", 1-1/4", etc. (often referred to as four-quarter, five-quarter, and so on), that actually are a bit shy of the stated thickness. Therefore, you'll pay for a 1"-thick measurement but actually be getting about 3/16" less. Board widths aren't standardized. To help you in estimating stock and cost for the projects you want to build, the chart below gives you the amount of board feet in a range of common hardwood dimensions you'll likely come across where you shop for wood.
FAS (First and seconds)
The best grade. Boards 6" and wider, 8' and longer. Almost clear. Yields 83-2/3 percent clear face cuttings 4" or wider by 5' or longer and 3" or wider by 7' or longer.
Boards 4" and wider, 6y' and longer. One side is FAS, the other is No. 1 Common. Yields 83-2/3 percent clear face cuttings.
No. 1 Common
Boards are 3" and wider, 4' and longer. Yields 66-2/3 percent clear face cuttings 4" or wider by 2' or longer and 3" or wider by 3' or longer.