How Hard are Common Hardwoods?

How Hard are Common Hardwoods?

There are many hardwoods to choose from for your next woodworking, crafting, or DIY project. But how hard are they really? The Janka Hardness Scale is the industry standard for measuring the hardness of a given wood species. Here is a list of some common hardwoods and their hardness:

Hard Maple hardwood ranks 1,450 lbf on the Janka scale

Hard Maple hardness

Hard Maple hardness: 1,450

Hard Maple has a Janka Hardness Scale value of 1,450 lbf. Its soft maple relative the Red Maple rates at 950 lbf, which makes it significantly harder than most other types/species on this list. Hard Maple wood has been found to fall in the middle of Janka Hardness Scale. This means that it's a pretty durable material, but not too hard or soft for home builders who want their projects last long-term.

White Oak hardwood ranks 1,360 lbf on the Janka scale

White Oak Hardness

White Oak hardness: 1,360

The hardness of White Oak wood is 1360 lbf on the Janka Hardness Scale, making it a medium-hard American hardwood. This high rating on the Janka scale reflects its strong and workable nature compared to other types of wood as indicated by this number's positioning at mid range strengths for these species. White Oak is only slightly harder than Ash.

Ash hardwood ranks 1,320 lbf on the Janka scale

Ash hardwood hardness

Ash hardness: 1,320

One of the most durable of all northeastern hardwoods, Ash is a popular option because it can take more abuse before showing signs of wear, which makes sense because Ash is commonly used to make Major League Baseball bats. Ash ranks 1,320 lbf on the Janka Hardness Scale. This means that Ash is tougher than Red Oak and Walnut hardwood.

Red Oak hardwood ranks 1,120 lbf on the Janka scale

Red Oak hardness


Red Oak hardness: 1,120

The contrast between Red Oak and White Oak is striking. Red Oak ranks 1,120 on the Janka Hardness Scale, while White Oak makes its way to 1,360 on the scale. While Red Oak is not as strong as White Oak on the Janka scale, it is still a strong and durable hardwood species that is great for flooring and custom furniture. 

Walnut hardwood ranks 1,010 lbf on the Janka scale

Walnut hardwood hardness

Black Walnut hardness: 1,010

Walnut is a popular hardwood that is used for a variety of purposes, from flooring to furniture. Walnut is prized for its beauty and durability, and it comes in a variety of types. The most sought after type of Walnut is Black Walnut, which has a hardness rating of 1,010 lbf on the Janka Hardness Scale. 

Cherry hardwood ranks 950 lbf on the Janka scale

Cherry hardwood hardness

Cherry hardness: 950

The ranking for Cherry hardwood is 950 lbf on the Janka Hardness Scale. While there are various types of Cherry, they all generally rank around this value on the Janka scale, making them great candidates to be used in furniture or other high-impact areas. While on the lower end of the Janka hardness scale, Cherry wood has a dense nature with good bending ability. Combined with low stiffness and shock resistance, Cherry wood is ideal when you need a reliable, durable hardwood.

As you can see, there is quite a range in hardness among these hardwoods. When choosing hardwood, keep in mind that the harder the wood, the more resistant it will be to dents and scratches. If you have active children or pets, you may want to choose a harder species like Hard Maple or White Oak. If you are looking for a softer, more elegant look, Cherry might be a better choice. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and how much wear and tear you expect.

Next, choose your hardwood based on grain

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