Some woodworkers like to use paste wood filler to smooth over those little clefts before varnishing or painting so the surface will be smoother. How to Tell Oak From Pine Wood Step 1. Compare the prices of both types of wood. Pines are trees in the genus Pinus. There are a about 115 species of pine. The leaves of the oak tree tend to fall off in spring. Knock on the wood. Step 3. Pine is softer than oak, although some types of pine are harder than others. Because oak trees can take well over one hundred years to grow and live for more than 300 years, their timbers are much stronger, heavier and denser than those of pine trees. Oaks bear fruits, known as acorns. It has over 600 species. Oak also has an a surface that shows small, open-celled surface texture. An oak is a tree in the genus Quercus. Oak is much less prone to scratching or denting. Some species have serrated leaves or leaves with smooth margins. Crucially, oak species are hardwoods, whereas pine is a softwood. Oak and pine differ in their grain appearance. Step 2. Oaks have spirally arranged leaves with lobed margins.