Ever wondered if juniper is a hardwood or a softwood? Read on to unravel this woodsy mystery and discover how it could level up your next project!
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 furniture for heavy use, I was curious about its hardness.
So, I did some research to find out the hardness of Juniper wood and to confirm whether it’s a hardwood or softwood.
I was able to gather lots of details thanks to the experts and my fellow woodworkers in San Francisco.
So, here’s what I know about, 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, I’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!
First of all, let’s take a quick look at what is Juniper wood.
What is Juniper?
Juniper is a type of tree that belongs to the cypress family and is commonly found in various regions around the world, from North America to Eurasia.
The tree itself is incredibly versatile, growing in various forms that range from small shrubs to tall trees.
Heart and Soul: The Look and Feel of Juniper Wood
One of the first things you’ll notice about juniper wood is its beautiful color.
The heartwood can range from a soft, pinkish-orange to a more robust reddish-brown.
Its texture? Smooth and fine, my friend. Imagine running your hands over a perfectly sanded piece of furniture made of juniper wood; it’s almost therapeutic!
The Unmistakable Odor
Ah, the smell of juniper wood! It’s like cedar but not as intense and a tad on the acrid side.
I once made a small keepsake box from juniper, and let me tell you, every time I open it, the scent is a delightful reminder of my woodworking journey.
Sustainability and Common Uses
With sustainability becoming the buzzword of the decade, you’ll be glad to know that juniper scores pretty well here.
It’s not listed as a threatened species, and in some areas, there’s even an excess of these trees.
This overabundance has been a problem for local ecosystems, but it also opened up avenues for juniper to be used more widely as a lumber species.
Juniper is commonly used for fence posts, but don’t limit your imagination.
Furniture, small specialty items, and even firewood are among its various applications.
Imagine crafting a rustic outdoor table or a charming birdhouse; the possibilities are endless!
Allergies and Toxicity
Like everything in life, juniper has its downsides too.
Some people have reported skin and respiratory irritation after coming into contact with the wood.
If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, maybe wear gloves or a mask when working with it.
As you can see, Juniper is more than just another tree; it’s a unique blend of beauty, durability, and versatility.
Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or someone looking to pick up a new hobby, this tree offers a world of possibilities.
Just remember, every tree has its quirks, but that’s what makes them special, right?
Now let’s head back to our key area which is about the hardness of Juniper wood. Stay in touch!
How Hard Is Juniper?
Juniper is a softwood because it mostly comes from evergreen trees or shrubs, 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 are 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.
Hardness Of Juniper Compared to Other Woods
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.
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
Properties of Juniper
Here are the main characteristic features of Junipers,
|Color||Pale pinkish orange to Reddish brown|
|Wood Type||Dense Softwood|
|Applications||Fencing, Furniture making, Paneling|
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.
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 be used 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.
Tips For Working With Juniper Softwood
Juniper is a gem in the woodworking world. It is versatile, durable, and relatively easy to work with.
But as with any wood, there are some nuances that can make your experience either heavenly or, well, less so.
Now I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks that I’ve learned by working with Juniper for a long time.
These tips will help you to work easily with Juniper without making any mistakes.
Let’s get you equipped with some handy tips for working with this wonderful wood.
Moisture and Drying Checks
Juniper softwood is lovely to work with, but it does have a tendency to develop “drying checks” during the initial drying phase.
In layman’s terms, you might see some minor cracks as the wood dries. Don’t freak out; this is normal.
However, you can minimize these by sealing the ends of the logs with a wax-based sealer or latex paint.
This slows down the drying process and helps prevent cracking.
Trust me, I learned this the hard way when I was crafting a garden bench, and let’s just say the results were not Instagram-worthy.
Hand and Machine
Whether you’re more of an old-school, hand-tools-only kind of person, or you’re all about the power and speed of machine tools, juniper wood is amenable to both.
Just make sure your tools are sharp, especially if you’re using hand tools.
Dull blades can tear the wood, leaving you with a less-than-smooth finish.
If you ever want to impress your neighbors with your woodworking prowess, a smooth finish is where it’s at.
Glues and Finishes
Juniper wood glues and finishes exceptionally well, but make sure to test your adhesive or finish on a scrap piece first.
Why? Juniper has a range of colors in its grain, and you want to make sure your finish complements rather than masks this natural beauty.
When I was making a photo frame, I first tested my finish on a spare piece, and oh boy, was I glad. It took a couple of tries to get the hue just right.
Plan Your Project
Last but not least, plan your project well. Juniper is great for outdoor furniture, small household items, and even fence posts.
Knowing what you want to achieve will help you pick the right pieces, tools, and finishes for the job.
I usually sketch my ideas out on paper first, and let me tell you, a little planning goes a long way.
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.
So, let’s compare the hardness values of juniper with woods that we use mostly in our day to day furniture making.
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|
So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
Is juniper wood good for furniture?
Yes, juniper is excellent for furniture, especially if you’re aiming for pieces with a rustic or natural look. Its fine grain and range of colors from pinkish-orange to reddish-brown add a unique aesthetic flair.
How easy is it to work with juniper wood?
Juniper wood is quite easy to work with, whether you’re using hand or machine tools. However, it may develop “drying checks” during the initial drying process, so sealing the ends can be a smart move.
Is juniper wood expensive?
Juniper wood is generally moderately priced, but old-growth or specialty pieces can be more expensive. The wood’s availability largely depends on the region, being most commonly found in its natural range.
Can I use juniper wood for indoor projects?
While juniper is often used for exterior purposes, there’s nothing to stop you from using it for indoor projects as well. Just bear in mind its distinct odor and potential for causing allergies in sensitive individuals.
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Juniper A Hardwood
in this article I 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!