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Popular Varieties of Wood Used in Furniture

When it comes to crafting beautiful and functional furniture, the choice of wood is pivotal. In this guide, we explore six of the most prominent wood types used in contemporary furniture, delving into their visual, physical and mechanical properties to help you make informed decisions for your future furniture purchases.


Black American Walnut

 Black American Walnut Swatch Sample

Known for its rich, dark colour and fine grain, Black American Walnut is a preferred choice for furniture makers seeking elegance and warmth. Its natural lustre adds a touch of luxury to any interior. Walnut is commonly used for crafting tables, cabinets and chairs and its workability allows for intricate detailing. Due to its stability and durability, walnut furniture often becomes heirloom pieces that can last for generations.

- Visual Properties: Deep, dark brown with occasional purple or green hues and a straight, fine grain.
- Physical Properties: Medium weight and hardness, easy to work with hand and power tools.
- Mechanical Properties: Exceptional stability, resists warping and stands the test of time.
- Cost & Availability: Relatively expensive due to its high demand and limited supply
- Uses: High-end furniture as it is considered a premium wood. 


European Oak

European Oak Swatch Sample

European Oak is celebrated for its strength, durability and distinctive grain pattern. It possesses a robust, timeless appearance, with a warm, honey-coloured hue that deepens with age. Furniture makers frequently use European Oak for crafting sturdy tables, chairs and cabinetry. Its resistance to decay and warp makes it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture as well.

- Visual Properties: Light to medium brown with distinctive grain patterns, displaying an earthy charm.
- Physical Properties: Moderately heavy and hard, ideal for structural components.
- Mechanical Properties: Renowned for strength and resistance to wear and tear.
- Cost & Availability: Moderately priced wood that is widely available.
- Uses: A popular choice for a variety of furniture as it offers a good balance of affordability and performance.


American Maple

American Maple Swatch Sample

American Maple, known for its pale, creamy colour and fine grain, is a versatile wood with a wide range of applications in furniture making. Maple's clean and smooth appearance is often left unadorned, showcasing its natural beauty. It's commonly used in crafting cabinets, dressers and kitchen furniture. Its resilience and ability to take on various finishes make it a practical choice for both contemporary and traditional designs.

- Visual Properties: Creamy white to pale reddish-brown, bearing a smooth, close grain.
- Physical Properties: Hard and shock-resistant, suitable for heavy usage.
- Mechanical Properties: Provides stability and a smooth surface for an impeccable finish.
Cost & Availability: Moderately priced wood that is widely available.
Uses: A wide range of furniture applications from budget-friendly pieces to high-end designs due to its versatility.


Sapele

Sapele Swatch Sample

Sapele, often referred to as "African Mahogany," is prized for its rich reddish-brown colour and interlocking grain. It exhibits a luxurious appearance that closely resembles genuine mahogany. Sapele is a superb choice for crafting high-end furniture, especially when an exotic, elegant look is desired. It's often used for veneers, cabinetry and fine woodworking.

- Visual Properties: Rich reddish-brown, often featuring a captivating ribbon-like grain.
- Physical Properties: Heavy and dense, making it a robust choice for furniture.
- Mechanical Properties: High resistance to decay and insects, ensuring longevity.
Cost & Availability: Relatively affordable and available.
Uses: All furniture types, especially as an alternative to mahogany due to its similar appearance and performance.


Ash

Ash Swatch Sample

Ash is a robust and resilient wood with a pale hue and distinct grain pattern. Its durability and shock resistance make it ideal for furniture that requires strength and sturdiness, such as chairs, bed frames and sports equipment. Ash's natural beauty and ability to accept a variety of finishes make it a versatile choice for both contemporary and traditional designs.

- Visual Properties: Pale yellow to light tan with prominent grain lines.
- Physical Properties: Medium weight and hardness, excellent for bending and shaping.
- Mechanical Properties: Known for strength and shock resistance, perfect for versatile applications.
Cost & Availability: Moderately priced and relatively abundant.
Uses: A variety of furniture applications, including outdoor furniture and sports equipment, due to its versatility.


Beech

Beech Swatch Sample

Beech is a robust, pale wood with a fine, even grain and a uniform appearance. Its neutral colour makes it an excellent choice for furniture makers looking for a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Beech is commonly used in crafting chairs, tables and kitchen furniture. Its durability and resistance to warping make it suitable for a wide range of designs.

- Visual Properties: Pale pink to reddish-brown with a straight, fine grain.
- Physical Properties: Hard and heavy, making it an excellent choice for intricate carving.
- Mechanical Properties: Robust and dependable, well-suited for heavy-duty applications.
Cost & Availability: Relatively inexpensive wood and widely available.
Uses: Budget to mid-range furniture and other basic pieces.


Summary

There are many wood varieties to choose from in the making of furniture. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks owing to their individual characteristics and costings. Careful consideration of such factors will allow you to make an informed decision so that you get the best solution for your needs.