Types of Wood: Simple Guide to Choosing the Best for Your Furniture

Posted by Brett McCutcheon on Feb 24, 2020 10:34:29 AM

Building Wooden Furniture

Wood provides two important components to furniture: structure and appearance. Another way we can say that is durability and presentation. Both components are important in determining how much your furniture can be sold for, what applications it can be used in, and how long it will last. Even though wood comes in a variety of colors and grains, wood is divided into two basic categories, hardwood and softwood.

  • Hardwood: Hardwood comes from trees that lose their leaves on a yearly basis. They usually grow slower than softwoods and are therefore normally denser and more expensive. 
  • Softwood: Softwood comes from trees that bear cones and are usually evergreen. These trees tend to be faster growers and are therefore lower in cost.

Note: Despite how wood is categorized, all hardwoods are not necessarily harder than softwoods. 


Hardwood Choices for Building Furniture

Many hardwoods are considered to be strong and solid. This makes them a good choice for structural support in building furniture. Grains and colors of hardwoods make them a great choice for the parts of furniture that are visible. Here is a look at some popular choices to use:

Red or White Oak

Oak is a strong and durable wood. It has a beautiful grain that pops when stained. A bonus is that it is resistant to fungus. A drawback to oak is that it is heavy. The grain in red oak has a pinkish-red color with white oak grain being more golden-brown. The grain in red oak is distinctive and is the focus of the wood. White oak grain is more subdued. Oak has been frequently used to build tables, dinner chairs, and a variety of hutches and cabinets. 


Ash is a much smoother wood than oak. It is durable and tough, being the wood of choice for baseball bats. The grain is similar to red oak. One way to tell the difference between the two is that red oak is much more porous than ash. For those that love the visual appearance of grain in their furniture, ash is an excellent choice.  For a smoother looking finish, try using ash to make bookcases and china cabinets.


Mahogany wood has much less decorative grain than oak and ash woods. It is prized for its rich red color. The color will darken over time. Furniture made of mahogany is beautiful and considered high-end. Mahogany makes a beautiful coffee table for your living room or an elegant bed frame for the master bedroom.


Birch wood contains some very beautiful and varied grain patterns. It is harder than oak. Birch makes very stable furniture. Being plentiful, it is one of the more affordable hardwoods for furniture building. 


Softwood Choices for Building Furniture

Most softwoods are in abundant supply, this making them more affordable, and a good choice for furniture. The grains in some species of softwoods give great visual appeal. But the grain in many softwoods is loose, making them more susceptible to denting and chipping. 

White Pine

White pine is widely available and affordable. It has a pale yellow to white color. It is a very soft and lightweight wood. Many people appreciate its grain, but it must be well-sealed with a finish that creates a hard surface and is prone to unsightly knots. Being lightweight, white pine is often used as the framework for couches and living room chairs.

Pitch Pine

Pitch pine can be appreciated for its beautiful and varied grain patterns. Unlike white pine, pitch pine is fire, abrasion, and decay resistant. It is soft and lightweight. Pitch pine's grain patterns and golden color makes it a great choice for furniture accenting a country setting.


Fir comes with a beautiful grain pattern that will pop when stained. It has a yellowish color and dark grain. Fir is a little heavier and harder than pine. It is strong and makes a good choice for furniture building.

Pneumatic Tools Make Furniture Assembly Easier

Whichever type of wood you choose, pneumatic tools make assembling your furniture simpler and more secure. Pneumatics are lightweight and easy on the user, as well as safer overall. Choose FASCO® pneumatic tools from BECK America for a hold that lasts. BECK America helps you get the job done right! 

Download the White Paper: Benefits of Pneumatic vs. Traditional Tools

Topics: Tools


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