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Different Types of Wood for Furniture Making

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A long table made from wood slab.

Whether you’re ordering custom hand-crafted furniture or picking hardwood furniture from an existing catalogue, knowing which types of wood can be used for furniture—and how they differ—can help you make the right choice for your needs. 

Both hardwood and softwood can be used to make furniture, but your options for furniture made from softwood may be more limited. In either case, both hardwood and softwood furniture can be durable, long-lasting, and beautiful, as long as you treat them with proper care.

So, how do you pick between creamy white oak, redwood, cherry wood, maple wood, or other varieties of wood? Getting expert information and advice from local wood furniture experts can be a great way to narrow down your options. 

Types of Hardwood

Hardwood comes from flowering and broad-leaved deciduous trees like cherry, oak, mahogany, and the iconic maple tree. Furniture made from hardwood is typically durable, long-lasting, and sturdy, and hardwood can be used to make furniture that holds more weight, like dining tables and ornate chairs. 

Another interesting feature of hardwood is that it’s excellent for creating rich carvings, so if you choose hardwood for your furniture, you may be able to take advantage of unique carved features, like animals, natural patterns, dentil mouldings, and decorative aprons. 

Great Hardwoods for Furniture

The types of hardwood used for furniture can vary based on colour, grain, and the finishes available for each type, so it’s important to think about how your new furniture will be used and how it will fit with the decor around it. 

For example, when you’re choosing furniture for dark floors, you may want to choose a wood that is naturally lighter so lighter finishes can be applied. However, if you want your furniture to blend in and leave room for other highlight pieces, you may want to choose a darker variety, like mahogany or walnut. 

A graphic to show the various types of hardwoods and their colour and texture.

Some types of hardwood that are great for furniture include:

  • Birch
  • Cherry 
  • Maple 
  • Oak 
  • Mahogany
  • Teak
  • Walnut
  • Rosewood
  • Bamboo 
  • Acacia 

Types of Softwood

Softwood comes from conifer trees—like those tall, evergreen pine trees that drop pine cones. While the density of softwood is typically lower than hardwood, softwood can still be used to create fantastic solid wood furnishings for specific uses and areas. 

The key detail to remember about softwood is that it’s great for making furniture that doesn’t need to carry a lot of weight, like nightstands and smaller furnishings. Even with its lower density, softwood furniture can last many years with the right treatment and use. 

Great Softwoods for Furniture

The types of softwood used for furniture can also vary based on colour, grain, and the types of finishes that suit them. Many types of softwood are lighter in colour, but there are also slightly darker brown and red varieties that suit different designs and tastes. 

A graphic to show the different types of softwood and their colour and texture.

Some of the common types of softwood used for furniture include:

  • Pine
  • Cedar 
  • Fir
  • Spruce 
  • Redwood
  • Western hemlock
Flanks of Rain tree wood (softwood) for furniture making.

Which Is Better for Furniture, Hardwood or Softwood?

There isn’t a clear superior choice between hardwood and softwood furniture because the decision often involves several factors, such as design, budget, and use. Ultimately, the best type of wood for your furniture will be the type that matches your preferences and meets your needs. 


The type of wood you choose for your furniture should suit your preferences for style and design. Ultimately, these types of choices come down to what you like most, but many people find it helpful to consider the existing design of the space where a piece of furniture will go and how one type of wood or another may look and function in that space. 


One interesting difference between hardwood and softwood is that hardwood typically takes longer to grow. The tall trees that produce softwood are also often straight and easy to cut. All these factors together affect the price of softwood and hardwood. 

Your budget is an important factor to consider when deciding which types of wood to use for furniture. It’s important to remember that there are wood varieties for all budgets that can be used to make stunning furnishings. Mahogany and red cedar can both look fantastic, as can maple and western hemlock. 


How a piece of furniture will be used and where it will be used are two important considerations for any piece of wood furniture. Hardwood is often great for large pieces that must carry more weight, such as dining room furniture or office furniture, while softwood can be great for smaller accent pieces

Outdoor furnishings may also require special considerations for wood type. While you can use most varieties of wood for furniture that will be placed indoors, some varieties survive better than others outdoors. You’ll need to consider not only the durability of the wood you choose for outdoor furniture but also its resilience against moisture and weather.  

Picking Wood for Furniture Making 

Knowing how to choose wood for furniture making is a skill you can build over time. However, when you are learning about wood furniture, determining the best type of wood to use can be difficult without guidance. That’s why relying on local experts can be a great way to find the right type of wood for the furniture you want. 

At Birchwood Furniture, we can help you find the right wood furniture for your needs. From spectacular dining room sets to accent and feature pieces that complement your existing decor, we’re here to help you find furniture you love. Visit us to explore our selection of Canadian-made furnishings in person and get help selecting the right wood furniture to last you generations.

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