What is the Janka wood hardness scale?
The Janka hardness scale measures the force that’s required to embed a steel ball halfway through a sample of wood. The ball is 0.444 inches in diameter and fired with increasing force. The pounds of force (or newtons if you’re using the metric system) needed to push the ball to the center is the Janka value you end up with. It’s a great way to measure how resistant a piece of wood is to denting and wear. Our Janka wood hardness chart shows how durable certain wood types are.
What is the hardest wood in the world?
The strongest wood in the world in terms of the Janka scale is Australian Buloke, which can withstand more than 5,000 pounds of force.
Here’s a list of the top ten hardest woods:
- Australian Buloke: 5,060 lbf (22,500 N)
- Baraúna: 4,800 lbf(21,000 N)
- Quebracho: 4,570 lbf(20,340 N)
- Guayacan: 4,500 lbf(20,000 N)
- Gidgee: 4,270 lbf(18,990 N)
- Snakewood: 3,800 lbf(17,000 N)
- Verawood: 3,710 lbf (16,520 N)
- Camelthorn: 3,680 lbf(16,370 N)
- African Blackwood: 3,670 lbf (16,320 N)
- Grey Ironbark: 3,664 lbf(16,300 N)
What is the softest wood?
Balsa, used in soft surfboards and musical instruments, is the world’s softest wood. In our wood chart, here’s the top ten that rank lowest on the wood hardness scale:
- Balsa: 67 lbf (300 N)
- Paulownia: 300 lbf(1,330 N)
- Monkey Puzzle: 320 lbf (1,420 N)
- European Silver Fir: 320 lbf(1,420 N)
- Atlantic White Cedar: 350 lbf(1,560 N)
- Yellow Buckeye: 350 lbf(1,560 N)
- Eastern White Pine: 380 lbf(1,690 N)
- Sugar Pine: 380 lbf(1,690 N)
- Maritime Pine: 390 lbf(1,740 N)
- Western White Pine: 420 lbf(1,870 N)
What is the hardest wood in North America?
Of locally available woods, Black Ironwood is typically the strongest type of wood you can find in America. It’s found in Florida and has a 3,660 lbf (16,280 N) Janka rating. Other strong North American woods include species of hickory, maples, oaks, walnuts, and beeches. Pines and poplars, which are mass-produced in America, are fairly low on the Janka scale, but they’re quite versatile and useful.
How do you choose the right wood for the job?
If you’re trying to decide between maple vs. oak, poplar vs. pine, or an expensive hardwood versus a local wood species, the Janka scale can be helpful. Ask yourself, for instance, “Is pine hard or soft wood, and will it be useful for my project?” Since there are many types of pine, it could have a higher Janka hardness or a lower one, depending on the species. Note that our wood strength chart lists their uses as well, from flooring to instruments.
There are so many types of wood out there; use our hardwood hardness scale to figure out what’s right for your next carpentry project!