Is Spruce a Hardwood or Softwood?

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Spruce wood is highly regarded for its versatility and usefulness in various woodworking applications. It is commonly used for construction, furniture, musical instruments, and more. 

While it may not possess the same level of hardness as hardwoods like oak or walnut, spruce wood offers its own set of advantages, making it a valuable choice for many projects. But is spruce a hardwood or softwood? Find out below!

Wood Classification of Spruce and its Janka Hardness Rating

The elasticity and lightness of spruce wood have made it popular amongst woodworkers. However, its durability doesn’t make it a hardwood. The genus Picea native, spruce, is often softer than most softwoods, so generally, it’s not a hardwood. 

Spruce wood comes from an evergreen tree called coniferous as it grows cones and is popular amongst the northernmost region, like pine wood and birch. 

Spruce woods come in different colors and varieties, hence are alike in hardness. All spruce types and species are softwoods with impressive density and superior qualities, so it’s often mistaken as a hardwood. 

milling Spruce log

The fiber structure of spruce wood lacks pores and has small resin canals. When the resin canals inside the spruce wood are cut, it stiffens the spruce lumber causing the hardened resin canals to be stiff and lightweight. 

The Spruce wood has a Janka hardness rating of 510lbf, deemed lower than most wood types. However, the hardness rating varies a little based on the type of spruce wood. Let’s take a look at their hardness rating below.

Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,734 N)
Black (Type of Spruce)520 lbf 2,313 N)
Red (Type of Spruce)490 lbf (2,135 N)

When you look at spruce wood in a microscope, you will see no visible pores in its structure, and it has cellulose fibers. 

Spruce lumber

Determining whether your material is hard or soft wood may seem tricky, so most refer to the wood’s hardness rating instead. Now, let’s assess the Spruce wood in the Janka scale, and see which other softwood and hardwoods it compares to. 

Wood Species Hardness Value
Red Mahogany and Turpentine 2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
Brazilian Walnut 3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
Golden Teak 2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
Brazilian Cherry and Jatoba 2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
Sugar Maple and Hard Maple 1,450 lbf (6,400 N)
Satinwood, Pecan and Hickory 1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
White Ash  1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
White Oak 1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
Red (Oak from Northern part) 1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Teak 1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
Yellow Birch / Baltic birch 1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
American Beech 1,300 lbf (5,800 N)
Cherry 995 lbf (4,430 N)
North American Walnut and Black Walnut 1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
Red Maple 950 lbf (4,200 N)
Douglas Fir 710 lbf (3,158 N)
Black Cherry and Imbuia 950 lbf (4,200 N)
Hemlock 540 lbf (2,402 N)
Silver Maple 700 lbf (3,100 N)
Black Spruce 520 lbf (2,313 N)
Sitka  510 lbf (2,268 N)
White Spruce 480 lbf (2,135 N)
Red (Type of Spruce) 490 lbf (2,180 N)
Redwood 420 lbf (1,868 N)
Sugar Pine 380 lbf (1,690 N)
Engelmann (Type of Spruce) 390 lbf (1,735 N)

Spruce Trees

Spruce trees are trees that come from the genus Picea and grow at a quick pacing of about 8 to 12 inches per year. 

Spruce tree

Other spruce trees, however, grow faster such as the Norway spruce that grows up to 3 feet per year, and sometimes this hardwood grows even quicker depending on the weather. 

Hence the tallest species of Spruce wood, known as the Sitka softwood, grows up to 250-350 feet once it reaches maturity. 

Characteristics of Spruce Wood

There’s a reason why Spruce woods stand out in the woodworking industry, and its tail of characteristics will explain why. You’re also probably wondering whether it’s a hard or soft wood so let’s talk about spruce, its origin, and its uses. 

ColorYellowish white (some spruce tree are reddish brown)
DensityA spruce’s average density is around 400 kg/m3.  
Wood typeTrees from a gymnosperm, like that spruce, are considered softwoods, while those like pine are considered hardwoods. 
Hardness490 lbf – 520 lbf
ApplicationsFurniture, Christmas trees,  crates, lumber, and even paper pulp

Qualities of Spruce

Ideal Uses of Spruce

Spruce wood

Now that I’ve made it safe to say that spruce wood is not a hardwood, what other projects can you make out of this softwood and lightweight material?

Musical Instruments

Apart from their lightweight characteristic, spruce trees also have growth rings that make them an excellent material for creating musical instruments. The rings enable sound texture and impressive tonal quality that enhances all sounds from the wood. 

The genus Picea is a versatile wood with many musical instruments you can make out of spruce softwoods, such as piano soundboards, violins, and even the top of guitars. To top it off, the uniform appearance makes all the difference. 

Paper Products

Spruce woods generally have this cellulose fiber, making it a common raw material in making paper products and even paper itself. 

The long fibers in these softwoods present forms together, giving paper sufficient strength and texture to grasp together, even when making very thin sheets. 

Crates And Boxes

Due to their rigid and straight nature, spruce woods are the preferred choice for crafting boxes and crates. Utilizing spruce not only enhances affordability but also improves efficiency, thanks to its lightweight nature, requiring less force when handling and transporting the materials.

crates and boxes

Boats And Planes

The largest plane ever built is known as the Spruce Goose, engineered by Howard Hughes. So if you’re asking if the Spruce goose means Spruce wood itself, it is. Even if it is considered a lightweight softwood, you’ll be surprised by how durable a Spruce is. 

Since spruce woods are softwoods, sturdy enough to withstand air, and have a moderate resistance to decay and rot, it’s an ideal raw material for making early biplanes and military fighter planes.  

Construction Projects

Spruce woods are most commonly seen in construction, and like pines, it’s also used as a common framing wood and a material to generate energy. 

Using such plywood is also common in construction projects because it’s lightweight and stable, and the stiff qualities are outstanding, almost close to that of hardwoods. 

Spruce Wood’s Strength

Spruce woods come from evergreen conifers and are like firs and pines, inexpensive and readily available. 

It also has uniform sets of straight grain and even texture which is easy to work with like other softwoods.  The heartwood of spruce woods is also moderately rot-resistant.

spruce wood for axe throwing target

Since these types of woods are lightweight, it’s also popular for their workability. Like other softwoods, spruce is easy to shape and bend, and working your way around the knots isn’t difficult either way.  

Benefits and Drawbacks of Spruce Wood

While spruce woods are commendable, there are still a few characteristics that you should consider before purchasing one. Here, I’ll enumerate the pros and cons of spruce wood.



Which is Harder: Spruce or Pine?

Spruce species are harder than Pinewood. Other wood types are often compared to spruce due to their popularity. The infamous resin canals [1] of spruce that heal wounds add to its value. 

The cut resin canals stiffen the lumber and therefore make it lightweight. Now in the Janka hardness rating, here is how the two kinds of wood would compare.

See Also: Spruce vs Pine vs Fir Lumber

Yellow Pine Amoire
Wood TypeHardness
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
White (Type of Spruce)480 lbf (2,135 N)
White Pine420 lbf (1,868 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)

Is Oak Harder Than Spruce?

Oak office table

With oak often used as a construction material, it’s significantly harder than Spruce. Oaks are hardwoods, so it’s no question that it’s harder and more durable than Spruce.

Hardwoods often come from angiosperms, while spruce woods come from gymnosperm trees. Here’s how the two wood types look on the Janka hardness.

Wood TypeHardness
Red Oak1,290 lbf (5,738 N)
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,050 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)

Spruce or Cedar: Which is Harder?

Cedar wood durability

Woods like Red Cedar is harder than spruce. However, there are woods that are softer than spruce, specifically White Cedar. 

While both softwood and specie type, there’s a significant difference between red and white cedar, and here’s how it looks on the Janka hardness ratings. 

Wood TypeHardness
Red Cedar900 lbf (4,003 N)
White Cedar320 lbf (1,423 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)

Spruce Wood or Douglas Fir: Which is Harder?

Douglas Fir furniture

Douglas fir wood, derived from a coniferous tree like spruce, is indeed harder than spruce wood. Native to northern North America, Douglas fir comes in various varieties and typically features closed growth rings. 

It has a notable Janka hardness rating, which measures its resistance to indentation. This rating can vary depending on the specific variety and growth conditions of Douglas fir wood.

Related Readings

Wood TypeHardness
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Red Spruce490 lbf (2,180 N)
Black (Type of Spruce)520 lbf (2,313 N)
White Spruce480 lbf (2,135 N)
Sitka Spruce510 lbf (2,268 N)
Engelmann (Type of Spruce)390 lbf (1,735 N)


Spruce wood, despite being categorized as a softwood, boasts remarkable strength and a range of qualities that make it a valuable material in the world of woodworking. Its combination of strength and versatility makes it a preferred option for a wide array of projects. 

Whether you’re engaged in construction, crafting furniture, or tackling other woodworking endeavors, spruce wood’s unique characteristics and dependable properties can make it an excellent choice for your needs.

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.
Robert Johnson

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