What Is Whitewood? All You Need To Know

Choosing the perfect type of wood for furniture making is a difficult task for someone who is not an expert in woodworking. However, it’s a trade knowledge one must acquire if he is to make quality output. The durability and the overall quality of the furniture do not only depend on how it is made but also on the type of wood used. One of the most commonly used woods in woodworking is Whitewood. But is Whitewood what you really need? What is Whitewood? Let’s explore what this type of wood can offer.

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What is Whitewood?


Whitewood is a light-colored wood commonly used in making furniture because of its clean appearance. This wood is often chosen in making cabinets, tables, chairs and other furniture that needs to be varnished and painted.

This type of wood is highly available in many countries including North America and the Caribbean.

Types of Whitewood?

In choosing Whitewood for your planned furniture, you should be aware that there are different types of this wood. Whitewood can be perceived differently in different countries since one can get this wood from different trees. These trees include spruces, tulip trees, basswoods, silver firs, yellow pines and many others. Identifying Whitewood is easy. You only have to look for that white grain that is isolated from tree’s saps.

what is whitewood - Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir In Forest

Grades of Whitewood?

If you are buying woods from a wood shop or a home center, then, you’ll probably see the abbreviation SPF, SYF and SYP in selecting the grades of Whitewood. However, if you are buying from a lumberyard, then you are going to choose among grades ‘Select’, ‘Common’, ‘C & Better’, and ‘Clear’. Since you’re most probably going to buy from a wood shop or a home center, let’s use the SPF, SYF and SYP standard.

SPF grade Whitewoods are spruce, white pine, and Douglas fir. SYF grade Whitewoods are fine and fir. These are commonly found in Canada, Sweden and England. There are also whitewoods marked with SYP, which stands for southern yellow pine. These are pretty common in Northern America.

Applications of Whitewood?

Because of its clean and fine look, Whitewood is often used in making cabinets, chairs, and tables. These pieces of furniture need to be finished with just a varnish. They can also be painted or stained without losing their quality.

Because Whitewood has a soft texture, it absorbs moisture quickly. Whitewood can also be used for displays like wooden picture frames.

Why should we use Whitewood?

In building different woodworking projects, you want to use materials that are versatile, and Whitewood is exactly that. It's also easy to avail as it can be bought from almost all countries especially in the Pacific, England, Sweden, Northern America, and Canada. If you compare it to other woods, it’s less expensive.

We also have an article about Parawood that you will be interested!

The whitewood is less expensive than some others

Working with Whitewood


When working with Whitewood, you should always take into consideration factors such as the cutting procedure, sanding technique, staining material, and finishing process. Only then will you be able to achieve beautifully finished furniture.

Cutting the Whitewood

what is whitewood - cutting wood

Band saw machine cutting planks

In order to have clean cuts of Whitewood, avoid using a hand saw as you might end up with some irregular lines. It would be better to use either portable band saw or band saw table. Both of them create cleaner cuts.

The portable band saw allows you to move freely. Instead of staying in one place and adjusting your body position to the steady device, you have the freedom to manipulate the band saw exactly the way you want to.

The band saw table, on the other hand, can cut plenty of wood pieces at the same time. You just have to decide the wood size, position the wood, and then move it across the table. The band saw table allows you to finish the wood nicely and quickly.

Sanding the Whitewood

what is whitewood - sanding wood

Sanding Wood

In sanding the cut Whitewood, you have the option to either make it simple or a little bit complicated. Its duration is basically based on how moist the wood is. Just make sure that you use the proper sand paper so as to avoid the scratching and eventually ruining the wood that would make you start all over again.

Staining and Finishing Whitewood

Staining and finishing a neat-looking piece of wood would be a little bit tricky. Whitewood has an open cell structure. It readily absorbs stain and can be splotchy at times. Thus, it’s important that you use a pre-stain before you apply the standard stain.

You can also apply sealants. These would make the Whitewood look finer.

When the sealant has already dried up, apply the stain in an even stroke. Avoid overlapping the applied stain, and always keep your brush wet throughout the staining.

If you can, apply 320 light strokes between coats to knock the dust or bumps that form during the previous coats. You need to put more coats of finish at the end, so you can seal the end grain.

You may also finish your Whitewood with varnish.

When working with Whitewood, it’s advisable that you are in an open space. The solutions you use, especially in the staining and finishing part, can emit strong chemical smell which may be harmful to your health.

Final Thought


Now that you already know what Whitewood is and how to handle it, it is time to start working on your project. Just always make sure to follow the proper procedures and techniques in working with it:

  • Cut your Whitewood to the desired size using a portable band saw or band saw table.
  • Use the proper sand paper and tools in sanding your Whitewood.
  • Avoid moist areas when sanding.
  • Apply a sealant before staining or painting your wood.
  • Apply your stain, paint or varnish in an even stroke, and avoid overlapping in applying them.

If you still have questions about Whitewood, please feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll try to help you out.

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