What is the strongest/hardest wood available from a lumber yard?

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Strongest and hardest are to different things. It has a lot to do with the shape of the cells, orientation of the cells and makeup of the cell walls in the tree. Woods that are tough and will flex instead of break are often not as hard as woods that will break and not flex. If you want strongest, as in toughest, high tensile strength, not likely to break, then you want oak. That is probably the toughest thing you will find in a lumber yard. Ash and hickory have a very high tensile strength and are fairly light weight, which is why they were used for buggy shafts, wagon tongues and wheel spokes. If you have a young, green horse who is likely to try to turn around in the shafts, you want something that will bend and not snap and stab the colt in the side. You aren't likely to find them in your average lumberyard. If you go to a salvage lumberyard, where they sell elements from demolished houses and barns, you may still be able to find a piece of chestnut, which is tougher and more rot ...
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