A Guide on Choosing the Right Wood for Your Furniture


By Tobin Dimmitt



 A Guide on Choosing the Right Wood for Your Furniture

Furniture made of wood has a special warmth and depth that is impossible to duplicate with other materials. There is a wide variety woods that also can be used to construct this type of furniture. Each provides its own unique look to whatever piece in which it is included. Enjoy reading the list below to the characteristics and uses for each wood listed.



List of Woods:


1. Oak – This wood part of the hardwood category of woods. It is one of the best-known woods for furniture. It is strong and durable yet easy to work with, as you make your piece. There is both red oak and white oak, but white oak is typically preferred. This type of wood is ideal for chairs, dressers, chest of drawers, end tables, coffee table, desks and many more things. I have had a chest of drawers that was my grandmother’s for many years that is still in excellent shape today. This shows how durable the wood is. Many American styles of furniture include oak. Oak is one of the pricier woods though, used in making furniture. This has to do with the fact that an oak tree grows to maturity slower than some other trees do.



2. Cherry – This wood is not nearly as hard as oak is, but it is still considered a hardwood. This wood is quite versatile and works up easily into various types of furniture. It is used so much in fact that the demand has caused it to be more expensive than other hardwoods including maple and oak. This wood has a color that is reddish-brown. It can be finished with oil and let be to show it natural characteristics or it absorbs stain well to give it a slightly different coloring. Many 18th-century type designs are constructed from this wood.



3. Maple – This wood comes in both a soft and hard variety. Both are quite hard as wood goes even though the soft is just a bit softer than the hard one is. Hard maple ranks 5 using a 1 to 5 system for rating hardness of hardwoods. Maple is very sturdy and even resistant to shock. It has even been used in the lanes at bowling centers for this reason. It is an ideal wood for making American country style furniture, as well as other styles, as it lends itself to the period of furniture. It can be stained to simulate other woods.



4. Brown Maple – This maple is a bit softer than the maple listed above at about a 2 hardness. It is heart wood from the maple trees not a specific type of tree. Its texture is smooth and takes well to both stain and paint. Even dark stains look appealing on this wood. The natural color of this wood is a mixture of tan, brown with some cream and white streaks. It lends a rustic quality to any piece of furniture it contains. Many types of Amish pieces are made with brown maple.



5. Rustic Hickory – This wood has more intense characteristics than regular hickory wood does. The variations in color are more defined, and there are burls and knots contained in the wood. Glazes enhances the grain to bring out every characteristic of it. This is use in country furniture that is truly rustic such as you would expect from the Ozarks. Rustic hickory also makes lovely cabinets.


6. 1/4 Sawn White Oak – The look of this wood is obtained by cutting into the rings of the tree at a 90 degree angle. It provides a unique texture to any furniture that is built from it. The color of this wood is considered almost white with a bit of sage tones mixed in with it. It is quite durable when sawn flat and stands up to wear over the years. This wood is ideal for Mission and Shaker furniture, as it mimics the time period these types of furniture first came into being. The grain is a mix of dark and light tones, because of the way it is cut from the tree. It absorbs stain well, and the lighter stains bring out its own natural grain.



7. Hickory – This wood is one of the strongest woods used in making furniture. The color of it is a mix of reddish tones and cream tones throughout the close grain. It provides special warmth to furniture pieces. Southwestern furniture often contains this wood. It is also used in the structural parts of furniture where strength is needed without a lot of bulk.



8. Walnut – This wood has a deep rich color ranging from chocolate to purplish brown. Even slight shades of dark blue, black, and gray can run through the brown grain. It is a durable wood without being overly heavy in weight. Walnut is hard and can stand up to daily use. The grain has a natural beauty and takes stain well. It is used in high-end pieces of furniture and cabinetry.



9. Rustic Cherry – This wood is a bit rougher looking than the cherry mentioned early and thus the name rustic. There are natural knots contained in this wood that lend itself to furniture such as Amish and Shaker styles. You will see a mix of colors including brown, white and dark red containing some brownish flecks.



10. Mahogany – This wood is also part of the hardwood family and is about a 2 on our scale of hardness we have been using with the other hardwoods. It has an even texture and fine grain, is easy to work with and even carve, and has excellent strength. The quality of mahogany varies greatly depending on where it is grown. This means that the price will also vary from inexpensive to very expensive. This wood is used quite a bit for Georgian, Victorian, and Empire furniture reproductions, as well as Contemporary and other types of furniture. The natural color for this wood can range from a grayish tone to pale red. It looks ideal with only one or more coats of oil.



These are just 10 of the woods that you can use in furniture. There are many more woods that can be explored. Just think of the final outcome that is desired before choosing which one is right for your needs.

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