Is Sycamore A Hardwood? (How hard is Sycamore?)

is sycamore a hardwood

Sycamore is a popular wood in carving, furniture making, butcher block making, flooring, and many more. It is a fast-growing tree with lots of great qualities. When using Sycamore for different woodworking projects, I was curious about its hardness. I’ve done some research to find out, Is Sycamore a Hardwood?

Yes, Sycamore is a hardwood with excellent dimensional stability. It is a domestic hardwood with a hardness rating of 770 lbf (3,425 N) which is higher than most woods. Because of having high hardness and toughness, Sycamore is used for high-end furniture and cabinetry.

But that’s just a quick snapshot and there’s a lot more to know about the hardness of Sycamore just than that!

In this article, we’ll explore is Sycamore a hardwood, and how hard is Sycamore by considering its characteristic qualities compared to other woods and its pros and cons. Also, we’ll talk about how strong Sycamore is with its uses.

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

So, let’s jump in!

How Hard Is Sycamore?

Sycamore is one of the hardest domestic species in the world, which only seconds to wood types like Hickory. It is a hardwood with exceptional dimensional stability, toughness, and durability.

The hardness of Sycamore is calculated by the Janka hardness test.

Janka hardness test is calculated by considering the resistance to wear and dent of a particular wood. If any wood has high resistance against dent and wear, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Sycamore has a hardness rating of 770 lbf (3,425 N) which is harder than most softwoods and some hardwoods as well.

Sycamore comes from a deciduous tree family that loses leaves in winter. It has a diffuse porous structure from small to medium. Because of being hardwood, tyloses are present in their wood fibers which helps to minimize water absorption and prevent the wood from rotting.

Because of having high hardness and due to the presence of tyloses, Sycamore can be used for outdoor applications. It has good weather resistance.

Sycamore wood is hard, tough, and durable. It has excellent resistance against cracking and splitting. Therefore, Sycamore is difficult to cut. Woodworks and furniture made from Sycamore last for years even under harsh environments due to high hardness and resistance against environmental elements.

Due to high hardness, most sawmills don’t quarter saw Sycamore. It has beautiful light tan to orange and brown color shades that add unique appearances to your house.

Because of having a significantly high hardness with a beautiful appearance, Sycamore is popular for luxury high-end furniture. People tend to buy Sycamore furniture because they care about the quality of the wood.

So, let’s have a look at the hardness of Sycamore compared to other wood types to get an idea about how hard it is.

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)
Sycamore770 lbf (3,425 N)
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Cypress510 lbf (2,269 N)
Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
Basswood410 lbf (1,823 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
White Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
Aspen350 lbf (1,557 N)
White Cedar320 lbf (1,423 N)

As you can see the Sycamore has a medium level of hardness compared to most hardwoods. Because of having good hardness and toughness, Sycamore is a durable versatile wood in the woodworking world.

Sycamore Characteristics

Sycamore is a hardwood that ranges in color from light tan to reddish-brown. Overall Sycamore is a beautiful wood that adds a unique appearance to your house.

Sycamore has an even and fine texture with interlocked grain pattern. Therefore, Sycamore does not take stains well. The stain spread unevenly and causes a blotchy or splotchy surface. This is because of its tight grain structure. The stain pigments are unable to penetrate through its wood fibers.

Apart from being a hardwood, Sycamore is one of the strongest wood types as well. Plus it has good resistance against cracking and splitting due to its high density.

Cutting, drilling, and screwing is difficult with Sycamore because it is so tough, and your woodworking tools need to be well sharpened. It glues, turns, and finishes well. But shows a poor response for steam bending to soften wood before bending.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking, working with Sycamore can be a nightmare because the saw tends to keep getting stuck.

Sycamore is not good at drying because of having an interlocked grain structure. Therefore, the moisture easily gets trapped inside of the wood and causes wood to twist and warp easily. This can prevent by kiln-drying wood with a mild schedule.

The wood has poor decay and rot resistance. Therefore, proper finishing is a must before using it for any kind of woodworking application.

Here’re some most significant qualities of Sycamore,

  • Hardwood
  • Poor workability
  • Toughness
  • No decay or rot resistance
  • Interlocked grain structure
  • Difficult to dry

Here’re the main characteristic features of Sycamore,

ColorLight tan to reddish-brown
Density630 Kg/m3
Hardness770 lbf
ApplicationsJoinery paneling, molding, furniture, fences

So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Sycamore hardwood.

Pros and Cons of Sycamore

ProsCons
Beautiful appearancePoor decay resistance
High hardnessPoor rot resistance
ToughPoor workability
High durabilityDoes not take stains well
Crack and Split resistant 
Versatile 

So, let’s find out what are the popular applications of Sycamore as a hardwood species.

What Is Sycamore Used For?

Here’re the common applications of Sycamore,

  • Joinery
  • Paneling
  • Furniture
  • Wood carving
  • Flooring
  • Butcher blocks
  • Indoor and outdoor woodworks

How Strong Is Sycamore Wood?

Sycamore is a moderately strong wood. the compressive strength and bending strength of Sycamore are significantly higher than most hardwoods and softwoods because of being so heavy.

The compressive strength and bending strength of Sycamore are as follows,

  • The compressive strength of Sycamore is 5,300 psi
  • The bending strength of Sycamore is 10,000 psi

As you can see the bending strength of Sycamore is significantly high and therefore it has excellent flexibility against high forces. This is useful in making cupboards and boat building.

That’s it, Folks! Now you know the answer to the hot question, Is Sycamore a hardwood? The answer is Yes.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Sycamore compared to other popular wood types.

Is Sycamore Harder Than Pine?

Yes, Sycamore is harder and denser than Sugar Pine and White Pine, but softer than Yellow Pine. Pine wood belongs to the softwood family while Sycamore is a hardwood species. Even though Yellow Pine is a softwood, it has a greater hardness than Sycamore.

In the woodworking world, Pine is overall better and more versatile wood than Sycamore due to its excellent softwood qualities.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Sycamore and Pine is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Sycamore770 lbf
White Pine380 lbf
Sugar Pine380 lbf
Yellow Pine870 lbf

Is Sycamore Harder Than Walnut?

Walnut is harder than Sycamore. Walnut is harder denser and tougher than Sycamore. It is a durable and long-lasting wood with excellent resistance against wear and tear. The finishing properties are also good in Walnut compared to Sycamore.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Sycamore and Walnut is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Sycamore770 lbf
Walnut1,010 lbf

Is Sycamore Harder Than Oak?

Oak is harder than Sycamore. Both Red Oak and White Oak are harder, denser, and more durable than Sycamore. Both Oak and Sycamore comes from hardwood family.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Sycamore and Oak is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Sycamore770 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf
White Oak1,360 lbf

As you can see, Oak is twice as much harder and denser than Sycamore.

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

In this article, we have deeply discussed Is Sycamore a hardwood, and how hard Sycamore is by taking its characteristic qualities with pros and cons.

Sycamore is a hardwood with moderate hardness. It is tough and denser because of its interlocking grain structure. Even though it has excellent strengths, Sycamore has poor resistance against environmental elements such as moisture. Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Sycamore compared to other popular wood types. Hope you have gained good knowledge about Is Sycamore a hardwood. So, let’s begin your next woodworking project with Sycamore and get the best out of it. 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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