hardenss of live edge slabs compared

A common question we get is about what type of wood is the hardest and most durable for a live edge table or furniture piece.  In this guide, we are going to breakdown the different wood species we offer by how hard they are.

First, if you're looking to buy the hardest wood we have in stock, look no further than hickory.  Hickory slabs can be found here.

An Introduction to the Janka Hardness Scale For Measuring Wood Hardness

Wood hardness is measured using the Janka Hardness Scale.  This scale scientifically measures wood species for their resistance to denting and wearing. It is then used to compare how hard a species of wood is to others.  This is used by many to determine which flooring, table, or other wood species is right for their project.

Live edge wood species with lower ratings do not mean that they won't make a good table, but it may mean that more preventative measures will need to be taken or a stronger finish may be needed.  These woods would be more prone to denting, scratches, and other imperfections as they age.

This test is done by seeing how much force is needed to put a .444 inch diameter steel ball half way into a sample of wood.  It's most commonly used for hardwood flooring, though can have other applications such as live edge slabs.

Our Wood Species Compared

Slab SpeciesPounds-forceNewtons
Black Walnut1010 Ibf4500 N
Cherry995 Ibf4430 N
Hard Maple1450 Ibf6400 N
Hickory1820 Ibf8100 N
Red Maple950 Ibf4200 N
Sycamore770 Ibf3400 N
Red Oak1290 Ibf5700 N
White Ash1320 Ibf5900 N
White Oak1360 Ibf6000 N


As you can tell from the chart above, hickory is the most durable species we offer and sycamore is the least.  The chart above is not designed to make decision-making more difficult, but rather to show how hard one wood is compared to others.   All of the species listed above are hardwoods and we've found each of them as a good fit for live edge slabs.

A Few Other Quick Notes About Wood Hardness

There are a few other quick bullet points worth mentioning when we talk about the hardness of wood.  These are:

  • The hardnesses in the chart above are averages and they will vary slightly from one slab to the next. There is a standard deviation for each species.
  • The janka test is always done on the heartwood and the sample used must be clear of knots and be at 12% moisture content.
  • The hardness of the wood can vary based on the wood grain.
  • These tests are not to be taken as absolutes, but rather as a way of comparing two species.

Questions About The Hardness of Live Edge Wood?

If you have questions about the hardness of live edge wood, you can drop them below!  You can also check out our guide on hardwood vs softwood live edge slabs!

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