What is Whitewood? And Everything Else About It

What is Whitewood?

If you know something or two about wood, then you might have heard about whitewood. I was checking out for some of the best wood to use for a project sometime back when I first came across the name. As uncanny as it sounds, I could not find enough information on it, and so I decided to do some little research about it. There are many opinions and thoughts over what whitewood is. In this article, I lay out my findings over what whitewood really is.

What exactly is Whitewood?

If you have met some light colored piece of wood that often goes by the name SPF, then you sure have met the whitewood.

Although you may be a first timer in hearing the name, whitewood is a common material in furniture making. Most furniture makers prefer using it because it is cheap and it is durable. Whitewood looks clean and is a great fit when building furniture such as tables, and cabinets.

If you are looking for wood that will be great with some vanish or paint on it, then whitewood is what you want.

Are there Different Types of White wood?

types of whitewoodI found out that there are different types of whitewood. As I may have already put it out, whitewood may be from pine or some other type of wood. So, there may be several types of whitewood out there. Moreover, different countries may perceive whitewood differently, or with different designations.

The type of whitewood is dependent on the species of the wood. Some of the trees that are regarded to as whitewoods include spruces, tulip trees, silver firs, pines, and many others.

To identify whitewood, you simply need to check out for the white grain of the tree after isolation from the sap.

I also noticed that you need to have a clear idea of the type of whitewood that you are looking for. Your project will certainly weigh heavily on your choice of whitewood.

To identify your best fit, start by checking the stamp of the grain. Next, confirm with the label of the whitewood presented to you so that you can buy what you are looking for.

What are The Whitewood Grades Available?

The main purpose of identifying wood grade is to help you find the best quality at a given price range. When you are out looking for whitewood, you might find some abbreviations such as SPF, SYF, and SYP.

SPF grade whitewood is basically Douglas fir, spruce and white pine.

The SYP grade simply stands for the southern yellow pine.

The SYF grade is pine and fir.

In most cases, the abbreviations are likely to appear more in England, Canada, and Sweden. The SYP grade is most common in North America.

If home centers are not your ideal place to find wood, then you may opt to source it from a lumberyard where you may find results such as ‘C& Better, ‘Select’, ‘common’, and ‘clear.’

What are the Advantages of Using Whitewood?

  1. Whitewood is light in weight, rustic, and inexpensive
  2. It absorbs paint well enough and can make great bright-colored furniture for kids
  3. Easily available anywhere in the world

Disadvantages of Using Whitewood

  • Whitewood is a softwood and due to its nature, its ability to absorb paints and stains can end up ruining your project.
  • White wood rots easily and is therefore not ideal for outdoor usage where it is exposed to the natural weather elements.
  • Whitewood also absorbs water very fast. The wood can get warped fast enough and it can also crack, or be totally ruined by water

Ideal Whitewood Projects

whitewood furnitureThere are many things that whitewood can be used for. However, it is preferred more for its great appeal in making chairs, tables, and cabinets. Unlike stained woods, whitewood is clear and can be easily varnished and painted to a desired color. Its soft texture is the best when applying paint. However, it is not a great solution for outdoor woodwork.

Why Use Whitewood?

When doing my woodwork projects, I prefer having a type of wood that is versatile and functional on different scales and levels. Whitewood is an exact fit in that description. I also prefer whitewood more because it is locally available. Actually, whitewood may be the most available type of wood all around the world. Another great reason why I prefer using whitewood is its ability to absorb colors, fast. This means you can make furniture that requires some tough colors and trust that the colors will be okay.

Steps to Follow While Painting Whitewood

There are many ways and strategies to have that perfect coat of paint on you whitewood. However, I realized some painting methods give better results than others do. Therefore, here is a better way to have your coat of paint looking good on your whitewood projects.

  • Start by sanding the wood and using a wipe of acetone to help it in opening up. This allows it to absorb paint more.
  • After the first sanding and wiping it with acetone, re-sand it to ensure that you get the texture you need.
  • Create a base for your whitewood made of acetone and a water-based color. While this opens up your wood more, you can also use it to hide discolored areas. It also helps in making your final job look refined.
  • Allow it to properly dry after then apply a top coat. The secret to getting the best results with whitewood is using water based paints. They look better aesthetically after drying.
  • You may choose to have a single coat or more, depending on the outcome.

Common Questions that People Ask about Whitewood

  • Is Whitewood good for Using Outdoors? No. whitewood absorbs water fast and is therefore not ideal for use in outdoor woodwork projects.
  • What is the difference between whitewood and redwood? Redwood is altogether a different type of wood from whitewood. Redwood is an actual tree species also known as The Scots Pine; which is native to Europe- Scotland.

Tips to help you get the Best Results while Using Whitewood

  • Avoid using a handsaw while cutting whitewood. Make use of a band saw table or a portable band saw.
  • Use the right texture while sanding your whitewood
  • Do not sand the moist areas of your whitewood
  • Use a sealant on the wood before staining or painting it
  • Use even strokes while painting or applying your sealant. This will help in giving a fine end result

Preparing Whitewood for your Projects

This is a-not-so-great part of any project as its can mess up your results even before you get on with the project. Preparing your whitewood right from scratch can get complex and frustrating. However, with the right procedure and steps to follow, you will quickly get the best results while preparing your whitewood.

Unlike other types of wood, whitewood can give a varied spectrum of results depending on how it is prepared. The preparation procedures are mainly important when it comes to staining, cutting, and in the finishing process.

How to Cut Whitewood?

The one secret to having a nice work done with whitewood is by having a nice result on the cuts and finishes.

Handsaws are not recommended while using whitewood. You are likely to end up with an irregular line. Rather, a band saw or a portable band saw table might help in making cuts that are even and clean.

How to Sand Whitewood?

how to sand whitewoodSanding should be done with regard to the ratio of moisture in the wood. Ensure that you use the right kind of sand paper as the wrong type might end up leaving your whitewood scratched and ruined. While sanding, ensure that you have a plastic bag on your sanding surface to protect the wood from humidity.

There are techniques of sanding whitewood that you should consider. Unlike in other wood pieces, you will not be rubbing over the surface to get it smooth. Ensure that you do it quickly and in the right way while avoiding taking off too much wood from the surface.

If you are looking for a sander for whitewood then you can check out the review I have done on detail sanders, which would be perfect for whitewood.

How to Stain Whitewood?

Staining and giving the whitewood a desired color is not as simple as you might have thought. Due to the open cell structure of the whitewood, the rate of absorption is quite high. Even the stain can get absorbed fast enough and end up getting splotchy.

After staining, ensure that you make use of sealants, which give the fineness in the end result. While applying the sealant, ensure that you do it with an even stroke. Do not overlap the stain, and apply brushes between coats to take care of dust particles formed on the other coats.

In conclusion, it is obvious that you may have already used whitewood before. As you realized through the article, whitewood is not a type of tree species, but rather a particular type of light colored wood with particular characteristics. Furniture makers commonly use whitewood and you might have a piece of furniture in your home made of whitewood. The secret in effectively using whitewood in your woodwork project lies in properly preparing it. Get the preparation process right and you will be on to an exciting and successful woodwork project.

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