Wood furniture has always been in style and there's no exception today. Along with other nature-inspired aesthetics like wicker and house plants and neutral tones, wood furniture will look good in your home. But there are a lot of different woods to choose from. Each brings something to the table in terms of density, grain, color, and more. Here’s what you need to know about the different kinds of furniture that are out there.
Maple is a favorite hardwood choice for heavy items. Hardwoods grow slowly, which means the wood fibers grow denser. Maple is resistant to splitting and it’s very sturdy. Plus, you can wipe it clean with a damp cloth, so it works great in your kitchen. Maple is often used for flooring, quality furniture, cabinetry, and kitchen accessories. It’s even used in bowling alleys as a flooring and for the pins. Maple is reliable and long-lasting, and this has kept it as a highly popular wood throughout the years.
Another solid and durable hardwood, walnut can take a beating. It’s also one of the most popular woods for use in furniture in the US. This is due to its many strengths: shock resistance, dimensional stability, and its rich coloration. The color is probably the trait most paid attention to. Many people love the rich dark tone of walnut. Walnut is used in furniture, flooring and wood veneers. It’s also a favorite for gunstocks, carvings, and other knickknacks and souvenirs. Here's another great article on walnut.
Oak is very durable and strong. Oak trees have been symbols for wisdom, strength and longevity in many cultures. Most occurrences use oak to denote resilience and solidity. White oak has some water resistance to it, another added benefit. Oak is generally straight grained. Oak is such a highly desired wood that it’s important to make sure manufacturers use it reasonably. Sturdy oak (like maple and walnut) is used in furniture, quality flooring, and cabinetry. White oak, with its minor water resistance, is often used for wine barrels and boats and other things that need to repel water.
Pine is a softwood and has many varieties. Pine is often used because it’s readily available and cheap in most places. The downside is less structural strength and pine often warps. But again, when a cheap wood is needed, pine gets the job done. Pine is also very lightweight, so some furniture has pine used in non-visible places to reduce the overall weight of the piece. A major use of pine is in the construction and paper products industries. It’s also heavily involved in sap and resin production. Besides that, you can find it used in wood products in your yard and garden. Here is a link to read more about white pine.
Considered a soft hardwood, but just about as pliable and easy to work with as many soft woods, poplar is a great wood to build with. Poplar woods are often a white or ivory tone, and it’s common to see green or brown streaking in the wood. As far as grain, poplar is fairly straight and uniform. Paints and glue adhere to it well. It’s often used in furniture, cabinets, wooden toys, plywood and more.
Alder is one of the softest of all hardwoods and is often called a “semi-hardwood,” ranking just harder than pine and poplar. Alder is light brown and it has a grain that is often straighter than hardwoods such as oak or ash. Knotty alder is just alder boards with knots in them. Craftsmen may work with knotty alder because it is (sometimes) cheaper or because they’re going for the rustic look that the knots provide. Just be aware that cutting knotty wood can be tricky since the dense wood in the knots can make your saw jump and cut funny.
From the country Gabon, Okoume is used almost exclusively in veneer form in the US. Some solid Okoume is sold in Europe and Africa. The wood ranges from a light brown to a pale pink and the color darkens with age. It has a straight or wavy grain, and a medium texture and glues or finishes well. The wood is often used in veneer, plywood, boatbuilding, musical instruments, furniture, and interior millwork.
With rich color, smooth grain and flexibility, cherry is another great wood. Many furniture manufacturers use it to curve, since it steams easily. It is also resistant to decay and abrasions. Some believe cherry is the best wood for indoor furniture. Cherry is used in furniture, moldings, millwork, doors, boat interiors veneers, joineries, and many other applications.
Now you know a little more about wood in furniture! Click the links in the article to find other great sources of knowledge. You’ll be an expert before you know it. Did we miss your favorite kind of wood? Let us know if we did!