Juniper wood is popular for indoor and woodworking projects such as gardening boxes, fencing and walls, furniture making, and more.
When I was first working with Juniper to make a piece of furniture, I was curious about its hardness and other details compared to other wood that we commonly use.
I did some research to find out the hardness of Juniper wood and to confirm whether it’s a hardwood or softwood. So, let’s discuss, Is Juniper a hardwood?
Juniper is not a hardwood. Juniper is a softwood with a Janka hardness rating of 626 bf (2,780 N) which is considered a dense softwood. Juniper is 35% harder than Pine and 50% softer than Red Oak. Juniper comes from a coniferous tree and the wood is hard, dense, and tough.
But there’s more to know about the hardness of Juniper.
In this article, we’ll widely explore is Juniper a hardwood, how hard Juniper wood is, characteristics of Juniper wood with its pros and cons.
Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.
Let’s dig in!
#openhouse today at Westwood 🏡 6216 Western Pine in #leaguecitytx is our popular Juniper II design. Filled with thoughtful upgrades like a gourmet kitchen, corner fireplace, 3 car garage and hardwood floors 🤩 Don’t forget about the spa-like owner’s bath! Come see us from 12-4. pic.twitter.com/lCWlNAXfbf— khovhouston (@khovhouston) August 11, 2019
How Hard Is Juniper?
Juniper is a softwood, but it is harder than many other softwoods because of its high hardness and density.
There’re many types of varieties of Juniper with different hardness levels. Here’re the popular Juniper wood species with their hardness,
|Juniper Wood Type||Hardness|
|Western Juniper||626 lbf (2,780 N)|
|African Juniper||890 lbf (3,960 N)|
|Alligator Juniper||1,160 lbf (5,160 N)|
Of the above variants of Juniper, the western Juniper is the most common one and should discuss the most.
Janka hardness rating is the test of measuring the resistance for wear and shear of a particular wood. If any wood has high wear and tear resistance, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.
Western Juniper has a Janka hardness rating of 626 lbf (2,780 N) which is significantly higher than many other softwoods and some hardwoods as well.
Juniper wood is 35% harder and 70% stiffer than Pine. Plus, it is harder than Cedar, Hemlock, Redwood, and hardwoods like Elm and Poplar.
Juniper is softer than Beech, Ash, Oak, and some other luxurious high-end hardwoods.
Overall, Juniper is a high dense softwood than other regular softwood which makes it unique and more durable than most softwoods.
Because of being a softwood, working with Juniper is so easy, and being a dese softwood is great to prevent the wood from chipping when working with woodworking hand tools.
Juniper has a fine grain with an even texture which is not common for softwoods. This makes the wood tougher.
Juniper comes from a coniferous tree as other softwoods whose leaves don’t fall annually like hardwood species.
Made a new stand for the old farm whetstone from juniper. Will last a looong time since it is very hard wood and will be impregnated with the real stuff – home made tar pic.twitter.com/OmmLbgzVCz— Eyvy the farmer (@Eyvythefarmer) September 2, 2022
According to the Janka hardness rating, western Juniper has a hardness of 626 lbf (2,780 N).
So, let’s have a look at the hardness ratings of other popular wood types to get a clear idea about how hard Juniper is compared to other woods.
|Wood Species||Hardness value|
|Brazilian Walnut||3,684 lbf (16,390 N)|
|Red Mahogany, Turpentine||2,697 lbf (12,000 N)|
|Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba||2,350 lbf (10,500 N)|
|Golden Teak||2,330 lbf (10,400 N)|
|Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood||1,820 lbf (8,100 N)|
|Hard Maple, Sugar Maple||1,450 lbf (6,400 N)|
|White Oak||1,360 lbf (6,000 N)|
|Ash (White)||1,320 lbf (5,900 N)|
|American Beech||1,300 lbf (5,800 N)|
|Red Oak (Northern)||1,290 lbf (5,700 N)|
|Yellow Birch / Baltic Birch||1,260 lbf (5,600 N)|
|Teak||1,155 lbf (5,140 N)|
|Black Walnut, North American Walnut||1,010 lbf (4,500 N)|
|Cherry||995 lbf (4,430 N)|
|Black Cherry, Imbuia||950 lbf (4,200 N)|
|Red Maple||950 lbf (4,200 N)|
|Sweet Gum||850 lbf (3,780 N)|
|Douglas Fir||710 lbf (3,158 N)|
|Silver Maple||700 lbf (3,100 N)|
|Juniper||626 lbf (2,780 N)|
|Hemlock||540 lbf (2,402 N)|
|Black Spruce||520 lbf (2,313 N)|
|Cypress||510 lbf (2,269 N)|
|Cottonwood||430 lbf (1,913 N)|
|Redwood||420 lbf (1,868 N)|
|Basswood||410 lbf (1,823 N)|
|Engelmann Spruce||390 lbf (1,735 N)|
|Sugar Pine||380 lbf (1,690 N)|
|White Pine||380 lbf (1,690 N)|
|Aspen||350 lbf (1,557 N)|
|White Cedar||320 lbf (1,423 N)|
As you can see, Juniper is so much harder than the softwoods that we use in our day-to-day lives.
Also in the Tree Observatory project is the Chinese Juniper. #Juniper trees are durable, adaptable evergreens that can bring year-round color to any dry or windy site. You can identify them by these blue-green, berry-like fruits, which are actually modified cones! #Nature @bgci pic.twitter.com/WW0QOIQGP4— Tweeting Tulip Tree (@TweetTulipTree) May 7, 2020
So, let’s have a look at the characteristic features of Juniper as a softwood
Characteristics Of Juniper Wood
Juniper heartwood has pale pinkish orange o dark reddish color that adds a unique high-end look to your furniture.
Because of being a softwood, Juniper wood is so easy to work with.
Even a beginner in woodworking can learn a lot with Juniper wood since screwing, nailing, gluing and finishing is so much easier than with many other kinds of wood.
Juniper wood is dense and tough wood compared to other softwoods. This makes Juniper more durable and better wood for the long run.
Juniper is one of the most durable softwood species because it has excellent rot and decay resistance.
The wood is so tough and dense. Therefore, moisture won’t penetrate deep into the wood causing the wood to rot.
But it doesn’t have good resistance against insect attacks. Plus, in extreme weather conditions, Juniper wood may rot due to water damage.
Therefore, finishing is a must before using Juniper for any woodworking project.
Once the wood starts to rot, there is no need to finish and you’ll have to restore the wood using a quality product like Flexseal.
Juniper has excellent finishing and gluing properties.
You can finish Juniper with lacquer, varnish, or oil finishes like Tung oil, Danish oil, or Linseed oil to keep the wood protected from environmental elements such as moisture and insect attacks.
Juniper has excellent resistance against warping and cracking when drying. This helps the wood to tolerate extreme temperature levels. This is why Juniper is popular for fencing.
Overall, Juniper is a versatile, quality wood with exceptional qualities compared to other softwood types.
Here’re the most significant qualities of Juniper,
- Dense softwood
- Fine grain with even texture
- Light in color
- Excellent rot resistance
- Excellent decay resistance
- High durability
- High density and toughness
- Distinct odor
Here are the main characteristic features of Junipers,
|Color||Pale pinkish orange to Reddish brown|
|Wood Type||Dense Softwood|
|Applications||Fencing, Furniture making, Paneling|
Svenskt Slöjdat i Ene. Juniper wood Crafts. Durable. The fragrance of juniper. Mmm. Big Tray. Bowl for red apples. For Butter, Olives and Honey. Sandwich Tray. Butter Bluebells. pic.twitter.com/Z0xY8S65d3— Anders L Öhrn (@littlebigohrn) June 27, 2019
So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Juniper wood as a softwood.
Pros And Cons Of Juniper Wood
|Excellent weather resistance||Distinct odor|
|Rot and decay resistance||Prone to scratches and dents|
|High workability||Need high maintenance|
|Easy to finish||Prone to bacterial infections|
|High durability||No fire resistance|
As you can see Juniper is filled with lots of beneficial qualities. Most of its drawbacks can be easily fixed by applying a quality sealer or finisher.
Juniper desk pic.twitter.com/xPHoovLJCe— Oregon Log Furniture (@orlog1) October 18, 2015
So, let’s have a look at the uses of Juniper as a well-known softwood species.
What Is Juniper Used For?
Juniper can literally use for any woodworking project because of being highly dense softwood with excellent durability and outdoor woodworking properties.
Here’re some popular uses of Juniper,
- Garden beds
- Furniture making
- Exterior constructions
- Decorative items
- Boxes and crates
- Butcher blocks
As you see, Juniper is great for anything.
With proper sealing and finishing, you just can ignore its softwood properties since it’s a perfect combination of cool features of both hardwoods and softwoods.
How Strong Is Juniper?
Juniper is stronger than many other softwoods and some hardwoods as well. It is a tough, hard and dense wood with excellent durability.
Juniper is stronger and 70% stiffer than Pine and 85% stronger and stiffer than cedar.
Juniper wood can hold a considerable amount of weight and stress with no deformation due to its excellent warp resistance. This is a unique and uncommon feature of softwood.
But under extreme conditions wood tend to deform over time. You just have to remember it is not hard as high-end hardwoods like Oak or Ash.
Due to its high strength, Juniper wood does not crack or split when drying. This is useful for making outdoor furniture.
However, Juniper is undoubtedly one of the strongest wood types on the planet because of its strong bonds between wood fibers.
The compressive strength and the bending strength of Juniper wood are as follows,
- The compressive strength of Juniper wood is 32.5 psi
- The bending strength of Juniper wood is 4.43 Gpa
As above details, you can see why Juniper is strong in this much. It has good flexibility to bend without cracking or splitting the wood.
You can easily soften Juniper wood for bending without damaging the wood due to its excellent strength and density.
That’s it, folks! Now you have a clear idea about whether is Juniper a hardwood and how hard Juniper wood is even though it is officially considered a softwood.
Woke up to this beauty, custom design hand made blade from the genius @Pareusiknives1 Wanted something multi purpose for private dining events, could not be more perfect! The juniper wood is so soft & beautiful, the balance is perfect. True craftsmanship! #British #privatechef pic.twitter.com/o1D9XDEN8m— Dan Bailey Catering Ltd (@DanBaileyCater) July 18, 2019
So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.
Is Juniper Harder Than Pine?
Juniper is harder than White Pine and Sugar Pine, but softer than yellow Pine. Both Juniper and Pinewood belong to the same softwood family.
But Juniper is stronger than Pine because of its high-density fiber structure.
Plus, Juniper has excellent resistance to rotting and decaying, not like Pine. Therefore, overall, Juniper is better and more versatile wood than Pine.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Juniper and Pine is as follows,
|White Pine||380 lbf|
|Sugar Pine||380 lbf|
|Yellow Pine||870 lbf|
Is Juniper Harder Than Birch?
Birch is harder than Juniper. Birch is a hardwood and Juniper is a softwood that two-time lower hardness than Birch.
Even though Juniper is a dense wood, it cannot beat high-end hardwood like Birch because it is one of the best in the hardwood category.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Juniper and Birch is as follows,
Is Juniper Harder Than Oak?
Juniper is softer than Oak because both red and white Oak is considered hardwoods while Juniper is a softwood.
Oak wood is stronger, tougher, and denser than Juniper in every aspect. You cannot replace Oak wood with Juniper even though it has good durability.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Juniper and Oak is as follows,
|Red Oak||1,290 lbf|
|White Oak||1,360 lbf|
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Juniper A Hardwood
in this article we have deeply discussed, is Juniper a hardwood, how hard Juniper wood is and characteristics of Juniper wood with its pros and cons, and more.
Juniper wood is a softwood that comes from a coniferous tree with a Janka hardness value of 626 lbf (2,780 N). Juniper is a dense softwood because it has high density, toughness, and hardness compared to other woods. It has high durability and excellent resistance as well.
Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.
Hope you have gained good knowledge about whether is Juniper a hardwood and why Juniper is known as a dense softwood.
Try to use Juniper for your next woodworking project and see why it is so special to other softwoods.
It has both hardwood and softwood properties which is surprising to see!