Guide to Wood

Types of Wood – A Furniture Guide

There are countless types of wood available for furniture manufacturing, from the common to the exotic. However, some types of wood make more practical furnishings than other types.

For this reason, you should take the specific type of wood for your furniture construction into heavy consideration.

In addition to the difference in color and grain, the durability and stability of specific types of wood should play a role in the choice of wood for your furniture.

Common Wood Types ExamplesWood is typically broken down into two categories: soft woods and hard woods. Overall, hardwoods are used more for furniture building, although softwoods are becoming quite popular due to their typical light colors and delicate textures.

Hardwoods are normally derived from a broad-leafed tree such as maple, oak, and cherry.  Softwoods come from needle-bearing trees, such as pine, redwood, and cedar.

Know that hardwoods are typically more durable, due to a tighter packed grain. However, this grain will appear heavier and the color may be darker than softwoods.

Similarly, softwoods are not as durable as hardwoods, so do not expect them to take the same amount of wear and tear.


Popular hardwoods include maple, oak, and cherry. Depending on the specific type of look you want from your furniture, you should consider the specific offerings of each type of wood.

Maple is an incredibly durable wood and often light in color. Some types of maple, including “bird’s eye” maple have unique grains that can create a fascinating pattern in the surface of your furniture.

Although durable, maple needs proper care on a regular basis to keep the wood from warping.

Oak is one of the most popular types of wood used for furniture. This material has been used for hundreds of years and those furnishings are still going strong.

Capable of withstanding an enormous amount of wear and tear, oak has a very specific grain that can only be identified with the wood.

Sometimes cut in a particular fashion known as quarter-sawn, oak is used in a wide variety of furniture styles.

Cherry is again becoming quite popular and ranges from a rich dark hue to a lighter, softer shade.

More durable and less expensive than mahogany, consider choosing cherry if you want your furniture to have a red appearance. The grain of cherry is delicate and lovely as well, making it often used for smaller, more dainty pieces of furniture.

Another type of hardwood typically used in furniture manufacturing is teak.

This wood is extremely durable when it comes to outdoor elements and is often found in outdoor settings, including for outdoor furniture and even used on boats.

With a beautiful grain and rich fragrance, teak ages gracefully over time, making it the perfect option for those outdoor spaces.  Its oily nature makes it water and insect resistant.


A couple of the more common types of softwoods used for furniture are pine and cedar. Pine is typically a lighter weight, less expensive material that is often used as a base. Over this base, thin veneers of other types of wood are applied.

This allows furniture companies to cut down on costs while also cutting down on their use of exotic types of wood to better help the environment.

Pine is a softer wood and quite easy to work with, so it is preferred by many woodworkers. One great thing about pine is that the wood is much less susceptible to the negative affects of humidity than other types of wood.

Cedar widely known for its sweet, spicy smell is another type of softwood used in furniture making.  Because of the aroma of the Cedar, it is used extensively in the construction of chests and closets.  This is known to keep the moths and insects away.


Until Next Time – Dan @ Wood Menders