Is Douglas Fir A Hardwood? What You Need To Know!

is douglas fir a hardwood

Douglas Fir is one of the highest yield amounts of timber trees in North America. It is highly used for plywood, lumber, flooring, and many other woodworking projects. When I was working with Douglas Fir on an outdoor woodworking project, I was curious, Is Douglas Fir a hardwood?

I decided to look more into it, and discovered:

Douglas Fir is not a hardwood. Douglas Fir is a softwood. Douglas Fir has a Janka hardness rating of 710 lbf (3,158 N) which is relatively lower than most the wood. Douglas Fir comes from a coniferous tree like other softwoods that doesn’t lose leaves in fall.

But that’s just a quick snapshot.

So, in this article, we’ll explore is Douglas Fir a hardwood and how hard is Douglas Fir by taking its characteristic features, pros, and cons. Plus, we’ll talk about how strong Douglas Fir is.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Douglas Fir compared to other popular wood types as well.

So, let’s jump in!

How Hard Is Douglas Fir?

Douglas Fir is a softwood. It is softer than most of the hardwoods and some softwoods as well. According to the Janka hardness ratings, Douglas Fir has a hardness rating of 710 lbf (3,158 N) which is relatively lower than most the woods.

Even though Douglas Fir is considered a softwood it is harder than some angiosperm woods like Chestnut. It has good durability as well. Therefore, there’re some occasions Douglas Fir can be used as an alternative wood for some hardwoods.

Because of having superior hardness, especially when compared to other softwoods, Douglas Fir is perfect for structural beams. It has good dimensional stability as well.

Because being a softwood, Douglas Fir comes has needle-like leaves and seeds are in cones. They don’t have vessels like hardwoods and are considered nonporous woods. Conductions take place by tracheid and transportation of water is very low because of having needle-like leaves.

Softwoods like Douglas Fir are readily available and popular because of their versatility and strength.

So, let’s have. A look at the hardness of Douglas Fir compared to other wood types.

Janka hardness test is a standard method of measuring how hard a particular wood is by measuring its resistance against wear and dent. If the wood has high resistance against wear and tear, it has a high score in Janka hardness ratings.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Douglas Fir has a hardness rating of 710 lbf (3,158 N). Here’re the hardness ratings of other popular woods to get an idea about how hard Douglas Fir is compared to other wood types.

Wood speciesHardness value
Brazilian Walnut3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
Red Mahogany, Turpentine2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
Golden Teak2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
Hard Maple, Sugar Maple1,450 lbf (6,400 N)
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
Ash (White)1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
American Beech1,300 lbf (5,800 N)
Red Oak (Northern)1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Yellow Birch / Baltic birch1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
Teak1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
Black Walnut, North American Walnut1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
Cherry995 lbf (4,430 N)
Black Cherry, Imbuia950 lbf (4,200 N)
Red Maple950 lbf (4,200 N)
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Cypress510 lbf (2,268 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)

As you can see Douglas Fir has an average hardness rating compared to other softwoods. It is a versatile hardwood species with lots of great qualities that can use for both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects.

So, let’s have a look at the characteristic properties of Douglas Fir to overcome lower hardness and become one of the superior wood types on the planet.

Douglas Fir Characteristics

Douglas Fir is a light brown color wood that varies in color based on its age. It has straight grain or slightly wavy grain pattern with coarse to a medium texture that adds a unique appearance to the wood.

Douglas Fir is equipped with small to medium resin canals that are distributed variably. The workability of Douglas Fir is also interesting. But it has a blunting effect on the cutter. Therefore, if you’re a beginner in woodworking better to have good practice before working on a woodworking project with Douglas Fir.

When working with Douglas Fir better to open all the windows in the room because it has a distinct resinous odor that can occur breathing problems. Overall, Douglas Fir is an effective wood that can be used for veneer, plywood, and other construction projects due to its great characteristic features.

Douglas Fir is popular because of its strength and versatility. In a summary here’re the most significant qualities of Douglas Fir,

  • Lightweight
  • Softwood
  • Poor rot resistance
  • Moderate workability
  • Distinct odor
  • Excellent nail holding ability

The above qualities make Douglas Fir important to get an idea about its woodworking applications.

Here’re the main characteristic features of Douglas Fir.

ColorLight brown with a red hint
Density0.49 Kg/m3
Hardness710 lbf (1,358 N)
Stiffness1.95 Mpsi
Wood TypeNorth American Softwood
ApplicationsLumber, Plywood, Veneer

So, let’s find out what are the uses of Douglas Fir as a softwood.

What Is Douglas Fir Used For?

Uses of Douglas Fir can be stated as follows,

  • Flooring
  • Boatbuilding
  • Aircrafts
  • Doors
  • Window frames
  • Beds
  • Tables
  • Plywood
  • Decking
  • Railroad ties
  • Other furniture

As you can see even though Douglas Fir is considered a softwood, it is so versatile that can use pretty much for any woodworking project with proper care and maintenance.

How Strong Is Douglas Fir?

Douglas Fir is considered one of the strongest softwoods on the planet. The compressive strength and bending strength of Douglas Fir are significantly higher than most other popular softwoods.

The compressive strength and bending strengths of Douglas Fir are listed as follows,

  • The compressive strength of Douglas Fir is 7,230 psi
  • The bending strength of Douglas Fir is 12,400 psi

Douglas Fir can bear a high amount of force when it is stretched. Plus, it is lightweight. Therefore, Douglas Fir has superior strength to weight ratio.  

Douglas Fir is equipped with strong fibers that make it resistant to physical impacts. This is why Douglas Fir is popular in heavy-duty flooring due to its good resistance and high strength.

Because of having high bending strength Douglas Fir use as a boat building material. Plus, it has good dimensional stability as well.

Pros and Cons OF Douglas Fir as a Softwood

ProsCons
VersatilePoor rot resistance
LightweightPoor hardness
High strength to weight ratioPoor durability
High flexibilityProne to insect attacks
AffordableNeed high maintenance
Chemical-free 
Decay resistant 

As you can see advantages of Douglas Fir are so much higher than its disadvantages. As a softwood, Douglas Fir is versatile wood. Most of the disadvantages of Douglas Fir can easily solve with proper finishing techniques.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions regarding is Douglas Fir a hardwood.

Is Douglas for Harder Than Pine?

Douglas Fir is harder than Sugar Pine and White Pine. But Douglas Fir is not harder than Yellow Pine. Both kinds of wood are softwoods, but Douglas Fir is softer than Yellow Pine. According to the Janka hardness test values, the hardness of Douglas Fir is higher than Sugar Pine, and White Pine but lower than Yellow Pine.

Here is the comparison between Douglas Fir and Pinewoods in terms of their hardness.

Wood TypeHardness
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
White Pine420 lbf (1,868 N)
Yellow Pine870 lbf (3,870 N)

Is Douglas Fir Harder Than Spruce?

Douglas Fir is harder than Spruce. Both are softwoods. According to the Janka hardness test values, the hardnesses of Douglas Fir and Spruce are as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)

Read: Is Spruce a Hardwood? What You Need to Know!

Is Douglas Fir Harder Than Oak?

Oak is harder than Douglas Fir. Oak is hardwood and Douglas Fir is softwood. Therefore, in terms of hardness Douglas Fir is no way near to the hardness of oak wood. Oak is harder, stronger, and denser than Douglas Fir.

According to the Janka hardness values, the hardness of oak and Douglas Fir is as follows,

Wood Type Hardness
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Red Oak1,290 lbf (5,738 N)
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,050 N)

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Douglas Fir A Hardwood?

In this article, I have deeply discussed is Douglas Fir a hardwood, and how hard it is.

We have discussed the characteristic qualities of Douglas Fir and what makes it so special and unique compared to other popular wood types as well. The uses and pros, and cons of Douglas Fir are so useful to get an idea about how versatile Douglas Fir is.

Even though Douglas Fir is considered a softwood, it can use pretty much for any indoor and outdoor woodworking project with proper care. It has an outstanding strength-to-weight ratio compared to other wood types.

Furthermore, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about Douglas Fir in terms of its hardness.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about is Douglas Fir a hardwood by considering its great qualities as a softwood. So, let’s begin your next woodworking project with Douglas Fir. Have fun in woodworking!

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