Generally, hardwood is denser and more durable that softwood. We say generally because as it turns out, there are softwoods that are actually more dense, and therefore harder than a typical hardwood. Balsa wood, for example, is one of the lightest wood, but is actually classified as a hardwood.
The main differences between the two are botanical in nature. It’s in the characteristics of the trees where you get the wood. Visually, hardwood is usually darker. They are also denser because they have thicker cell walls. You will notice that trees that bring hardwood have broader leaves, whereas trees that bring softwood usually have leaves that are needle-like (conifers) in apperance.
The vessels that act as conduits for nutrients and water for a growing tree also differ between hardwood and softwood. Hardwoods have “closed” cells which prohibit them to function, hence they have vessels. Softwoods, on the other hand, don’t have vessels because their cells are “open.” This practically allows them to absorb water and nutrients better than most hardwoods.
Because of the said characterstics of hardwood, people prefer to buy furniture and flooring that are made out of it. Coupled with proper maintenance, hardwood furniture will last longer than those that are made of softwood because they are more resistant to damages like scratches and dents. But softwood is also good for interior furniture like cabinets especially if they are maintained the right way. If you are on a budget, softwood may well be a good choice. A good kind of softwood is Pine. It is very affirdable, yet an excellent material for any interior furniture as it is denser than other hardwood.
Ultimately, it’s all about your preference. Just be sure you have the necessary tools when making your own piece of furniture. For this, a hand-held saw and a diamond blade should be present in your toolbox.