Is Mesquite a Hardwood or Softwood?

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Mesquite wood’s unique and captivating beauty holds significant appeal for an array of woodworking projects, spanning from rustic furniture to ornamental embellishments that enhance the aesthetics of your living space.

However, a key question arises: is Mesquite classified as a hardwood or softwood, and can it endure exposure to harsh environmental elements?

After conducting a comprehensive assessment of Mesquite’s attributes, here’s my take on whether it represents the optimal choice for your specific project.

What is Mesquite Wood’s Classification?

Mesquite, a hardwood cherished for its density, strength, and exquisite appearance, proves to be an excellent choice for diverse woodworking undertakings. Its warm hue and distinctive grain patterns add an unparalleled aesthetic charm.

Moreover, Mesquite is more durable than most common hardwoods, making it suitable for high-traffic areas or outdoor furniture. It’s a top pick for professionals in the woodworking industry, who often use it for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry. 

Mesquite log

Although, working with mesquite can be challenging due to its density and high level of natural oils. But proper preparation and finishing can help you achieve a stunning, long-lasting piece that will stand the test of time.

Mesquite Wood’s Hardness

Mesquite is widely known for its remarkable hardness and the toughest deciduous trees that grow in North America. It is stronger, more durable, and denser than other hardwoods. 

It has a Janka hardness score of 10,410 N (2,340 lbf). This hardness rating is relatively higher than most common hardwoods, giving Mesquite a significant advantage for many woodworking projects. 

The higher the Janka score, the harder and more durable the wood is. By comparing Mesquite’s Janka score with those of other hardwoods, you can get an idea of where it stands on the spectrum of wood hardness.

Mesquite wood slab

Below is how Mesquite’s Janka score fares with other hardwoods:

Type of WoodHardness Value
Brazilian Walnut16,390 N (3,684 lbf)
Turpentine, Red Mahogany12,000 N (2,697 lbf)
Jatoba, Brazilian Cherry10,500 N (2,350 lbf)
Mesquite10,410 N (2,340 lbf)
Teak (Golden)0,400 N (2,330 lbf) 
Pecan, Satinwood, Hickory8,100 N (1,820 lbf)
Apple wood7,700 N (1,730 lbf)
Sugar Maple, Hard Maple6,400 N (1,450 lbf)
Honey Locust7,030 N (1,580 lbf)
White Ash5,900 N (1,320 lbf)
White Oak6,000 N (1,360 lbf)
American Beech5,800 N (1,300 lbf)
Northern Red Oak5,700 N (1,290 lbf)
Baltic birch, Yellow Birch5,600 N (1,260 lbf)
Teak5,140 N (1,155 lbf)
North American and Black Walnut4,500 N (1,010 lbf)
Cherry4,430 N (995 lbf)
Imbuia, Black Cherry4,200 N (950 lbf)
Red Maple4,200 N (950 lbf)
Yellow Pine3,870 N (870 lbf)
Douglas Fir3,158 N (710 lbf)
Willow2,530 N (570 lbf)
Silver Maple3,100 N (700 lbf)
Cottonwood1,913 N (430 lbf)
Redwood1,868 N (420 lbf)
Sugar Pine1,690 N (380 lbf)
White Pine1,690 N (380 lbf)
White Cedar1,423 N (320 lbf)
Aspen1,557 N (350 lbf)

As shown in the table above, Mesquite is harder than most common hardwoods like Maple, Teak, Red Oak, Redwood, and Hickory. This remarkable hardness and strength of Mesquite make it a top choice for outdoor and indoor furniture and other structures.

Characteristics of Mesquite Wood

Mesquite wood possesses a distinctive aesthetic that distinguishes it from its hardwood counterparts. Its unique color spectrum spans from pale yellow to deep brown, frequently showcasing prominent growth rings and irregular grain patterns.

Mesquite grain pattern

It may also have knots, bark inclusions, or other natural imperfections that give it a rustic or organic look. These unique features can be accentuated to create stunning pieces that showcase the natural beauty of the wood. 

Mesquite wood can be made into furniture with a unique look that adds character and charm to your home. However, aside from its superior hardness, it also has greater density and high resistance to weather variations, making it ideal for many applications. 

Below are Mesquite’s main features:

Pros & Cons Of Mesquite Wood

woodturning Mesquite

What I Like

What i don't Like

Where to Use Mesquite Wood

Mesquite is known for its high versatility, making it suitable for a wide range of woodworking projects. While its high density can pose a challenge, you can transform mesquite wood into stunning, durable wood pieces with the right tools and techniques. 

Below are some of the popular uses of Mesquite wood:

Mesquite bench

Mesquite Wood’s Strength: Is it a Strong Wood?

Mesquite wood is popular due to its remarkable strength compared to other hardwoods. Different types of Mesquite wood are widely used for many woodworking projects.  But their strengths vary depending on various factors, such as the following: 

Compressive Strength

This refers to the ability of the wood to withstand the pressure applied perpendicular to its grain. Below are the compressive strengths of the three types of Mesquite wood that are widely used:

milling mesquite

Mesquite wood has a high compressive strength, making it ideal for use in applications where the wood will be subjected to heavy loads.

Bending Strength

This refers to the ability of the wood to withstand bending or flexing without breaking. Below are the bending strengths of the three types of Mesquite wood that are widely used:

Mesquite wood has exceptional bending strength, which makes it ideal for use in furniture, flooring, and other applications where the wood will be subjected to stress.

Stiffness

This refers to the ability of the wood to resist deformation under load. Below is the stiffness of Mesquite wood:

staining Mesquite wood

Mesquite wood has a high stiffness, making it less likely to bend or warp under stress.

Hardness

This refers to the wood’s ability to resist indentation or scratching. Essentially, it indicates how much force is required to leave a mark or dent on the surface of the wood. Below is the hardness of Mesquite wood:

Mesquite

Mesquite wood stands out as one of the hardest hardwoods, rendering it an ideal choice for applications that demand paramount durability.

Density

This refers to the weight of the wood per unit volume. High-density hardwoods tend to be more durable, stronger, and more resistant to wear and damage. They also have a tighter, more uniform grain structure, which makes them less prone to warping or splitting. 

Below is the density of Mesquite wood:

filling Mesquite wood cracks with epoxy

Mesquite wood is a high-density hardwood, contributing to its strength and durability.

Is Mesquite Wood Hard to Split?

Mesquite wood [1] is hard to cut or split due to its hardness, tight fiber structure, and high density. These characteristics make Mesquite resistant to deformation and require more force and the use of sharp tools to split effectively.

Mesquite vs Oak: Which is Harder?

Mesquite is significantly harder than both White Oak and Red Oak. Generally, Oak is less dense, weaker, and softer than Mesquite wood. Below is the comparison of Janka’s rating of Oak and Mesquite wood. 

Oak grain pattern
Type of WoodHardness Value
Mesquite2,340 lbf
White Oak1,360 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf

Mesquite vs Hickory: Which is Harder?

Hickory wood piece

Mesquite is considerably harder, denser, stronger, and more durable than Hickory. Therefore, Mesquite can be a better choice for your projects requiring durability and longevity than Hickory. Below is the comparison of Janka’s rating of Hickory and Mesquite wood.

Type of WoodHardness Value
Mesquite2,340 lbf
Hickory1,820 lbf

Conclusion

Determining whether Mesquite qualifies as a hardwood or softwood is pivotal in your project evaluation. In this regard, it’s crucial to note that Mesquite is firmly categorized as one of the most robust and resilient hardwoods available.

With outstanding attributes such as exceptional hardness, strength, and density that surpass many other hardwood varieties, Mesquite wood emerges as an ideal selection for an extensive array of applications, both indoors and outdoors. Its capacity to endure even the harshest weather conditions ensures longevity and reliability over numerous years.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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