While which type you use depends on your wood plans, there are a few different kinds of lumber available within each category. Hardwoods are usually more expensive, and some are very rare. Here are three popular hardwoods used in woodworking.
Ash - Ash is a pale-brown or white colored wood with a straight grain. It's not too difficult to work with compared to other hardwoods, however it can be quite difficult to find. A larger lumberyard is going to be your best bet.
Oak - One of the most popular (and in our opinion beautiful) woods used in furniture, oak is an incredibly strong and heavy wood that you should be able to find at most home improvement stores. Oak is available in red and white; the color you choose will be up to your wood plans and your personal tastes (white oak is highly resistant to moisture and is great for outdoor furniture).
Mahogany - Another very popular wood used to make furniture is mahogany. Mahogany is a reddish (sometimes deep-red) wood with a straight grain. It's not as hard as oak, however it is easy to work with and takes stain and oil very well. Unfortunately, mahogany is not available in sustainable forests which means that it is in danger of becoming extinct. Not only is this a tragedy in terms of the environment, but it will also have a hefty impact on your wallet.
Softwoods are usually less expensive than hardwoods, and are often grown in sustainable forests to ensure they are protected from extinction. This guarantees that you're not only protecting the environment, but that you'll always have lumber available for your next woodworking project. Here are three softwood species to consider on your next woodworking project.
Cedar - Western Red Cedar, the most common type, naturally has a reddish tint. Cedar has a great smell to it and it is a straight grain, but the best reason to use it on your next woodworking project is its resistance to rot. If you're building something for an outdoor space, Cedar is the way to go.
Pine - Pine is another of the popular woods and comes in several varieties (Ponderosa, Sugar, Yellow, and White). Pine is a great wood for furniture plans because of its natural wood grain and beautiful knots. Pine takes stain very well and pine is great for furniture that calls for intricate detailing that needs to be carved out of the wood.
Redwood - Redwood is, like cedar, highly resistant to rot and moisture. Available for a moderate price at most home stores, Redwood is an easy wood to work with and has a straight grain. Oh, and if you haven't already guessed, it has a red tint.