Is Willow a Hardwood? + Uses of Willow Trees

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Willow trees are often appreciated for their beauty. But when it comes to woodworking, is Willow a hardwood suitable enough for most projects? And what are the pros and cons?

So, in this article, we’ll delve into the versatility and benefits of the willow tree to determine if it’s a good wood to consider in woodworking.

How Hard Is Willow Wood?

Willow wood is generally considered a softwood, although several species of willow can be considered hardwoods. In terms of hardness, willow is typically rated as relatively low on the Janka hardness scale, which measures the resistance of wood to denting and wear.

For reference, here’s a list of several common wood species and their corresponding Janka hardness values:

Wood Species

Janka Hardness Value (lbf)


100 lbf


690 lbf


900 lbf


470 – 670 lbf


995 lbf


1450 lbf


1360 lbf


800 – 1200 lbf


1010 lbf


1155 lbf


1260 lbf


1820 lbf

Brazilian Cherry

2350 lbf


3220 lbf

As you can see from the table, willow falls in the middle of the hardness range compared to other common woods. While it may not be as hard as some other hardwoods, it can still be suitable for certain applications.

Key Characteristics of Willow Wood

willow wood

While willow wood may not be as hard as some other types of wood, it does possess certain characteristics that make it useful for various applications. Here are some of the key qualities of willow wood:

Here are some additional details about willow wood:

Willow Wood's Pros and Cons

willow wood logs

While willow wood has some great qualities, it also has some drawbacks worth considering. Here are some of the pros and cons of working with willow wood:



What Projects Is Willow Best Used For?

Willow wood’s unique characteristics make it well-suited for various projects. Here are some of the applications where willow wood is often used:

How Strong Is Willow Wood?

cutting willow wood

Regarding strength, willow wood is classified as a softwood on the Janka hardness scale compared to many hardwoods. This means it is more prone to denting, scratching, and wear over time, especially when exposed to heavy use or extreme weather conditions.

However, willow wood’s inherent flexibility and toughness can help it resist breakage and damage from impacts, making it suitable for projects that require some degree of durability.

Ultimately, the suitability of willow wood for a particular project will depend on factors such as its intended use, the desired level of durability, and the creator’s overall design and aesthetic goals. It has some unique characteristics that can make it suitable for certain applications.

Is Willow Wood Durable? Is it Tough?

While willow wood may not be the most durable wood option available, it can still be suitable and does possess a unique combination of flexibility and toughness that can make it durable in certain applications that require a certain level of pliability.

Additionally, willow wood is resistant to rot and decay, which can help it last longer than other types of wood in outdoor applications or areas with high humidity or moisture.

holding a willow log wood

Due to its exceptional durability against outdoor elements, it has become a favored option for crafting outdoor furniture, planters, and even providing structural support for buildings.

That being said, willow wood is still a softwood, and it may not be the best choice for projects subjected to heavy use or exposure to the elements over long periods. However, for projects that require flexibility, toughness, and resistance to decay, willow wood can be a great choice.

Is it Hard To Split?

Willow wood is easy to split due to its straight grain, making it popular for basket weaving and woodworking projects involving shaping or bending the wood.

To split willow wood, choose a straight, defect-free piece of wood. Use a splitting maul or wedge and sledgehammer to create a split, starting at the end of the log and working down. Willow is preferred for basket-making because of its flexibility and ease of splitting.

After splitting the wood, use a drawknife or other tool to shave off any rough edges or bark, then shape the wood as needed for your project. Remember that willow wood is relatively soft, so we suggest being careful not to apply too much pressure or force when shaping it.

splitting willow wood

Overall, splitting willow wood is generally considered an easy task, but as with any woodworking project, it can take some practice and patience to get the hang of it.

The Hardness of Willow vs Oak Wood

Regarding hardness, oak wood is generally considered significantly harder than willow wood. According to the Janka hardness scale, which measures the resistance of wood to denting and wear, red oak has a rating of approximately 1,290 lbf (pounds-force), while willow typically has a rating of around 450 lbf [1]. 

This means that oak wood is roughly three times harder than willow wood. However, it’s worth noting that hardness is not the only factor to consider when selecting wood for a particular project. 

Willow wood has unique properties that make it suitable for certain applications, such as its flexibility and lightweight nature. 

Ultimately, the best choice of wood will depend on the specific requirements of the project at hand. Here’s a table comparison of the Janka hardness ratings for willow and red oak:

Wood Species

Janka Hardness Rating (lbf)


450 lbf

Red Oak

1,290 lbf

Is Willow Good for Firewood?


While willow wood can be used for fuel, it is not the best option. Compared to other hardwoods, willow wood burns quickly and produces less heat. Moreover, it can create excess smoke and residue, making it unsuitable for indoor fires.

Considering these factors, experts recommend using willow wood primarily for woodworking or creative projects. Its flexibility and durability make it a preferred choice for making baskets and furniture, while its resistance to rot and decay makes it ideal for outdoor projects.

Therefore it is recommended to use willow wood primarily for woodworking, where its unique flexibility and toughness can be utilized to the fullest rather than firewood.

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So, is Willow a hardwood or softwood? Considering all the characteristics of willow, it’s clear that it’s a softwood. But its flexibility, workability, and distinct hue make it a unique and versatile material for creative projects.

While it may not be the strongest or most durable wood, it offers many benefits for those seeking a natural material with character. So, consider exploring the possibilities of willow in your next artistic endeavor.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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