It used to be when I went to the lumber store the inexpensive soft wood was Pine. Now they call it "White Wood", what exactly is "White Wood", I don't recall ever hearing of a tree species by that name.

  • It appears to be several sheets of luaun pressed together. Very stiff, square and easy to work with, but no finish-ready wood grain veneer. – woodEye Oct 8 at 22:34
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I suspect it is any cheap tree that is fairly white. 'White wood' is not a species. It is likely pine, but in theory could be balsam or aspen or a bunch of others.

I did a little looking and it mostly confirmed that. It can be any of a number of species that all are fairly 'white' with little strong grain showing.

  • I have seen Aspen on multiple occasions in its own section of dimensional lumber, but have also seen White Wood similarly. I am not sure if those designations are used interchangeably, or if some stores carry Aspen, and then 'White Wood' separately. – Jacob Edmond Jan 9 '17 at 19:18

White wood is the cheap, crappy wood available at home centers, and will vary by region. Here in Arizona, it's white pine.

  • Just to clarify, it seems like you are answering the question, "What species is the inexpensive soft wood?" not "What is white wood?" Am I right? – drs Mar 18 '15 at 18:13
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    Not quite. At Home Depot here, they have white pine labelled as white wood. My assumption is that the definition of white wood will vary by location. – saltface Mar 18 '15 at 20:58

That's a deliberate misuse of the poor tulip tree's name. White wood is Liriodendron tulipifera, a rather valuable hardwood (which funnily is not white at all).

Insofar, calling the inexepensive soft wood "white wood" is somewhat misleading.
Nevertheless, in practice, home improvement centers will sell anything from spruce, fir, or pine to "coniferous wood" under the umbrella term "white wood". In other words, you get whatever happens to be around and is cheapest, but it sounds like you buy something valuable.

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    The article you link to portrays tulip wood as cheap and goes on to say, “During scarcity of the better qualities of white pine, tulip wood has taken its place to some extent.” – Christopher Creutzig Mar 20 '15 at 16:15
  • (Must admit that I didn't even read that Wiki article I linked to, assuming it would be accurate). Let's say that I'm seriously impressed by that quote. Price of whitewood here is comparable to walnut, so not at the very top, but rather in the upper price range. It's a wood that you'd use for example for a knife grip. White pine, on the other hand, is pretty much among the cheapest crap you can get. Stuff you use for building a tool shack in your garden. – Damon Mar 20 '15 at 18:25
  • The wiki page claims that tulip wood (American Whitewood) was used for house and barn sills. Other sources claim that it were not resistant enough against weather for that, but well usable for the interior - and also used for packaging etc. I also did find claims that the name “American Whitewood” were sometimes used for magnolia grandiflora or m. acuminata. (I have no idea what of these things is true, myself.) As for pine, we probably can agree that there is a wide range of qualities you can get, from tool shack to stairs and (common) furniture quality. – Christopher Creutzig Mar 20 '15 at 18:45

In Canada anyways, you would also see it referred to as SPF - Spruce, Pine, Fir which is used as dimensional framing lumber.

The meaning of "white wood" or "whitewood" may vary by region.

In the UK, for example, it usually means timber primarily intended for "first-fix" use where it will not be visible when the work is completed.

The species probably depends on what is available in the region but can include Spruce, Douglas Fir, Pine and so on. Spruce seems to be most common in the UK.

  • And to make it even more confusing: in Scandinavia whitewood is spruce and redwood is pine – ON5MF Oct 10 at 7:46

There is a fast growing pine species called radiata pine that is grown in New Zealand that Home Depot sells. They sometimes mislabel it white pine but it not eastern white pine. Now they call it white wood.

  • Though grown in New Zealand and Tazmania, radiata pine is native to North America. – Ast Pace Jan 10 '17 at 21:43

What is Whitewood?.

Being one of the most common material and furniture making, whitewood has its reputation for the cheap price and considerable durability. By the look, you can say whitewood is light-colored and has such a clean appearance. The material is prevailing in manufacturing stuff like cabinets, chairs, tables, shelves, etc., which needs varnishing and painting afterward.

The name whitewood doesn’t come from a species of tree. It can be pine, balsam, aspen, etc. Any kind of wood which are fair and inexpensive can be seen as whitewood. It is fairly abundant in many countries in the Caribbean and North America.

Whitewood Classification Types of Whitewood To choose the most suitable wood for stuff making, you should be aware that there is not only one type of the material. As I have just said, many kinds of wood can be seen as whitewood. Therefore, it can be variedly perceived in each country, depending on species that are native to said nation.

Trees that are sorted in the kind of wood are spruces, basswoods, tulip trees, pines, silver firs, etc. Just look for the white grain isolated from the tree’s saps.

Grades of Whitewood The section aims to help you choose the whitewood of the best quality and suitable prices. When shopping for woods in a home center or a wood store, you may see the abbreviation SPF, SYF, and SYP on the products. They are the choices you may make when coming to the kind of shopping centers. Ones of SPF grade are spruce (S), white pine (P), and Douglas fir (F). SYF ones are pine and fir. You most likely to see the tags in Canada, England, and Sweden. If you see the mark SYP, it means the wood is from southern yellow pines. Most likely it is Northern America imported.

If home centers are not your cup of tea, you may consider buying wood from a lumberyard. There, instead of the three tags as I have just said, you will encounter ‘Select’, ‘Common’, ‘C & Better’, and ‘Clear’. It’s up to you to make the choice that suits whatever you are going to create from the material.

What are the uses of whitewood?

Owing to the bright and clean appearance, the material comes in handy while making chairs, tables, and cabinets. It saves lots of time and effort making furniture from whitewood since it requires only a varnish to earn a brilliant look. Painting and staining are also simple and efficient. Thanks to the soft texture, whitewood is able to absorb the moisture much faster than other kinds of hardwood.

Besides, many people use whitewood in making artworks or ornamental items, such as picture frames. The fair color makes it easier for us to apply various colors on the surface. For example, it’s hard to paint a brown log pink or light blue without erasing the original color of the material first. With whitewood, you can just sand the surface, get rid of the dust, and paint directly on it.

Why does whitewood come in handy in various circumstances? Besides the projects that demand highly durable wood, there are works needing versatile, flexible materials, among which whitewood is one of the best. It is available in most countries around the world, from England, Sweden, to the US, Canada, and nations around the Pacific. Compared to other kinds of wood, whitewood is pretty cheap.

Owing to the fine appearance, the material is used commonly in creating artworks and simple furniture. If you want to have a stylish living room and don’t put the standard or durability too high, then whitewood is the ideal choice for you.

How To Manufacture The Wood Working with whitewood is not simple since woodworking is never a pie for everyone to eat. But believe me, you can master the task if you remember all the steps in the process, and follow them with patience and a lot of care. Before accomplishing the project, there are stages you need to overcome. Below is the detailed guide on how to manufacture the kind of wood.

Cutting And Constructing The texture of whitewood is soft and easy to handle, but you have to manage to get clean cuts with nice finishes so your final product can be perfect. To do it, you should use a stand or portable bandsaw. The standing one, of course, will take more space, and you have to return to the spot whenever you need to cut wood. The portable one is more convenient, but using it requires more efforts, and if you are not so handy, or the log of wood is too thick, it will be a difficult situation.

So, it depends on the kind of woodwork you are doing to choose the bandsaw. Large projects need the stand one, and smaller, more detailed one should be done with a portable. You should consider table saw vs miter saw, too, up to your preference and convenience.

Sanding Depending on the specific kind of whitewood you are going to use and the moisture ratio in the wood, sanding process can be simple or quite complex. You should put a black plastic bag down prior to doing the task since it will save the wood from humidity.

Sanding doesn’t mean using a piece of sandpaper and rubbing on the surface over and over. You have to do it quick and right, do it won’t take too much wood out of the board. Sand the surface properly to get rid of any imperfections; those will ruin the perfect, smooth finish of paint layers afterward.

Staining And Finishing You can choose to use a sealant or not prior to the staining stage. It’s optional since whitewood is an easy-going material. However, with it, you can have a more even fishing once you have done with painting.

While staining, make sure to keep the strokes even and not overlapping. You may not see the difference first when the stain is still wet, but when it’s dried, distinct degrees of color can be seen on the surface. The staining stage needs to be consistent. In fact, you should not stop when the work has begun. Keep your paintbrush wet all the time, and fishing what you are doing as fast as possible (and of course, as careful as possible).

Besides, you can choose to use a wood stain varnish if you want to have the most desirable look on your work. However, it is more difficult to use, and you should do the task in an open area, or else you may get caught in the toxic chemical smell.

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  • 1
    Copy/paste from the author's own blog with a surreptitious link. Flag as spam please. – tripleee Oct 10 at 4:20

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