Is Spruce a Hardwood? What You Need to Know!

is spruce a hardwood

Spruce is a cream to white to yellow wood with even texture and straight wood grain. it is commonly used for the construction of foundations, beams, crates, joists and to generate energy. When it comes to woodworking, I was surprised by its great qualities. I was curious to know, Is Spruce a hardwood?

Spruce is not hardwood. Spruce is a softwood. Spruce wood has a hardness rating of 510 lbf (2,268 N) which is relatively lower than most of the woods. It comes from a coniferous tree. Even though Spruce is considered as softwood, it has superior strength to weight ratio.

But there’s a lot more to know about the hardness of Spruce wood with its qualities.

So, in this article, we’ll explore is Spruce a hardwood, how hard is Spruce with its characteristics, pros, and cons of Spruce wood and its uses.

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

So, let’s jump in!

How Hard Is Spruce?

Spruce is softer than hardwoods and most of the softwoods as well. According to the Janka hardness ratings, Spruce has a hardness rating of 510 lbf (2,268 N) which is relatively lower than many other kinds of wood.

There’re different species of Spruce which has nearly similar kind of properties and similar hardness values. Here’re the Spruce wood species with their hardness ratings.

  • Sitka Spruce with a hardness rating of 510 lbf (2,268 N)
  • White Spruce with a hardness rating of 480 lbf (2,135 N)
  • Black Spruce with a hardness rating of 520 lbf 2,313 N)
  • Engelmann Spruce with a hardness rating of 390 lbf (1,734 N)
  • Red Spruce with a hardness rating of 490 lbf (2,135 N)

As you can see Spruce wood has different varieties with different colors. But when it comes to the hardness, all are nearly the same. All the Spruce species have lower hardness, and all are considered as softwoods.

When we look at the fiber structure of Spruce wood, it is lacking in pores and has small scarce resin canals. Spruce has a closed pore structure. Those resin canals inside Spruce heal wounds and once cut those resin canals stiffen the lumber. These hardened resin canals are very stiff and lightweight. Therefore, even though Spruce is considered as a softwood, it has a good density with superior qualities which surpass the properties of hardwoods as well.

Spruce comes from gymnosperm trees which are evergreen conifers. They have needles and cones. When are investigated under a microscope mostly there are no visible pores in the structure. In terms of density, Spruce is a low dese wood than most of the hardwoods. The density of Spruce wood is around 400 kg/m3.

So, let’s have a look at the hardness of Spruce according to the Janka hardness scale.

Tip: Janka hardness test is the standard method to measure the hardness of any wood according to its resistance to wear and dent. Woods with high wear and dent resistance score higher values in Janka hardness ratings.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Spruce has a hardness rating of around 490 lbf (2,135 N) – 520 lbf (2,313 N). Here’re the hardness ratings of other popular wood types to get an idea about how hard Spruce is when 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)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 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, Spruce is a softwood, and its hardness is significantly lower than most of the woods that we use regularly.

So, let’s find out what are the characteristic qualities of Spruce overcome the lower hardness of Spruce to become one of the most superior wood types on the planet.

Spruce Wood Characteristics

Spruce wood is a cream white to yellow color softwood with a uniform texture and straight wood grain. the medium-sized resin canals are distributed variably or tangled to latewood.

In terms of its resistance, Spruce isn’t resistant to decay.

The workability of Spruce is significantly high. But you need to make sure the wood is free from knots. Otherwise working with Spruce won’t be easy.

Even a beginner in woodworking can use Spruce to learn woodworking techniques because of its user-friendliness. Spruce glues and finishes well. It takes stain well. Therefore you can easily give extra protection to the Spruce wood wok especially if you’re working on an outdoor woodworking application.

Spruce is non-toxic and able to use for any woodworking product, including kitchen utensils and children’s toys.

As a summary, here’re the most significant qualities of Spruce. They are,

  • Lightweight
  • Light in color
  • Softwood
  • High workability
  • Poor weather resistance
  • Low hardness and density
  • Great strength to weight ratio

The above qualities of Spruce are important to get an idea about its woodworking applications.

Here’re the main characteristic features of Spruce wood.

ColorCream white to yellow
Density400 kg/m3 – 700 kg/m3
Hardness490 lbf (2,135 N) – 520 lbf (2,313 N)
Stiffness1.57 Mpsi
Wood TypeNorth American Softwood
ApplicationsConstruction, millwork, musical instruments

So, let’s find out what are the uses of Spruce that applicable to softwoods.

What Is Spruce Used For?

The uses of Spruce wood are listed as follows.

  • Construction lumber
  • Papermaking
  • Musical instruments making
  • Millwork
  • Crates
  • Boxes
  • Boatbuilding

Spruce is useable for any kind of woodworking project because of its ideal strength to body ratio.

But generally, Spruce don’t use for furniture making because of its poor hardness and density. The durability of Spruce is also less than hardwoods.

If you wish Spruce woodwork to keep outside, you should apply proper wood finisher first with proper sanding. Usually, Spruce takes stain well and finishing won’t be a huge task because it’s softwood. but make sure to avoid getting a blotchy surface when finishing. Surface blotchiness will eventually ruin your beautiful woodwork.

Staining and finishing are useful because Spruce has no resistance against decaying and rotting. The top finishing coat will prevent water droplets from penetrating inside of the wood.

How Strong Is Spruce?

Spruce has ideal strength to weight ratio. The compressive strength and bending strength of Spruce wood are significantly high. The straight grain structure of Spruce help to increase its strength. Because of having excellent strength to weight ratio, Spruce is one of the best woods for musical instruments without any doubt.

The compressive strength and bending strengths of Spruce wood are listed as follows.

  • The compressive strength of Spruce is 5,610 psi
  • The bending strength of Spruce is 10,200 psi

The compressive strength and bending strength of all the Spruce wood species are pretty much the same.

As you can see even though Spruce is considered as a softwood, its strength is pretty good and probably better than most of the hardwoods as well.

Great strength and excellent flexibility are the key factors of Spruce, that make it popular in the woodworking world.

Pros and Cons of Spruce Wood As a Softwood

ProsCons
LightweightPoor decay resistance
Excellent compressive and bending strengthPoor hardness and density
High flexibilityLess durability
Attractive uniform textureLow weather resistance
High workabilityEasily get damaged by insect attacks
Straight grained wood 
Easy to finish 
Affordable 
Excellent strength to weight ratio 

As you can see, the advantages of Spruce are unique and useable for many woodworking applications. This is why Spruce is a construction material.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about is Spruce a hardwood compared to other wood types.

Is Spruce Harder Than Pine?

Spruce is harder than Pine. Most all the species of Spruce are harder than Pine. Therefore, Pine wood can easily be replaced with Spruce.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Spruce and Pine are as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
White Pine420 lbf (1,868 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)

As you can see most of the species of Spruce are slightly harder than both white Pine and Sugar Pine.

Is Spruce Harder Than Oak?

Oak is significantly harder than Spruce. Oak is hardwood and Spruce is softwood. the hardness of Oakwood is far above the hardness of Spruce.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Spruce and Oak are as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,050 N)
Red Oak1,290 lbf (5,738 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)

Is Spruce Harder Than Cedar?

Red Cedar is harder than Spruce, but white Cedar is slightly softer than Spruce. There’re is a significant difference in hardness between red Cedar and White Cedar.

According to the Janka hardness ratings,

Wood TypeHardness
Red Cedar900 lbf (4,003 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
White Cedar320 lbf (1,423 N)

Is Spruce Harder Than Douglas Fir?

Douglas Fir is harder than Spruce. According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Spruce and Douglas Fir are as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Spruce a Hardwood?

In this article, we’ve deeply discussed is Spruce a hardwood and how hard it is.

The characteristic qualities of Spruce wood are discussed with pros and cons. The strength of Spruce wood species is identified and described as what makes Spruce so special in woodworking.

Spruce is softwood with excellent physical properties. Even though it has less hardness and density, the strength of Spruce is outstanding.

Furthermore, I’ve answered frequently asked questions about is Spruce a hardwood compared to other popular wood types like Cedar, Oak, Pine, and Douglas Fir.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about the qualities of Spruce and how hard it is. So, let’s jump into your next woodworking project with beautiful Spruce wood. Have fun in woodworking!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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