Wood is a timeless and versatile material used to build furniture, yet the sheer variety in the types of wood available means that there is no single wood that is best for all kinds of furniture. Each wood has a different texture and other qualities that determine how it is best used in furniture making, and depending on your budget you may prefer to choose a different wood for your project.
In this article we will explore the different types of wood that are used for different furniture pieces, and the various features of them.
Best wood for furniture panels – tables, wardrobes & cabinets
Wood for larger pieces of furniture is best taken from trees that grow tall and straight, such as pine, oak and redwood. Whether you prefer a smooth or textured finish will depend on your personal tastes and the type of look you want to achieve in your home.
Pinewood, with its many knots, lends itself best to a more rustic style of decor, whereas premium woods such as mahogany and teak will give a room a more classic feel. For a modern look, choose pale woods like beech and ash which will help to enhance a sense of space, or dark woods like walnut to show sophistication.
Best wood for furniture legs – tables, chairs & sofas
When choosing wood for furniture legs, strength is the main consideration, although workability is also a factor. The type of wood best used for furniture legs will depend on whether the legs are straight or curved.
If they are curved, you want the grain of the wood to run at the same angle as the direction of stress to eliminate weak points, so it’s best to opt for close grain woods such as maple rubber or mahogany over those with an open grain such as oak.
However, wood that is too dense will be difficult to carve and shape. You should also avoid wood with knots such as pine, as this will also create weak points, though a skilled cabinet maker can select the correct cuts of pine.
Best wood for carved furniture – beds, cabinets & seating
The best woods for making carved furniture are malleable yet sturdy, and various types of both hard and softwoods can be used for this purpose. The type of wood you choose to carve will depend on whether you are carving by hand or using power tools.
Pine and basswood are softwoods that are easy to carve and whittle by hand but are less suitable for chip carving due to their soft nature. Mahogany and oak are popular hardwoods to carve thanks to their straight grains and reliability in producing aesthetically pleasing finishes. They are also commonly used woods in the middle to high-end furniture market.
Walnut is less suited to carving by hand due to its very hard nature, but it can produce beautiful, professional-looking results for experienced carvers using powered carving tools.
Related article – What Types of Wood Are Used in Furniture Making?