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How to Choose Wood for Furniture Making

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Different types of wood samples for furniture making sitting on a rustic wood table.

Are you interested in building your own furniture but do not know where to start? At Birchwood Furniture, we know everything when it comes to furniture–including which building materials are best.

While almost any type of wood can be used to build furniture, some woods are a better choice depending on your goals, your budget, & your intended aesthetic. There are many types of wood that are commonly used in homes, including softwoods and hardwoods, and they all have unique qualities.

So how do you begin to identify the type of wood to use for your furniture? If you are renovating your home, looking to transform a space, or are interested in starting a homemade project, the first step is to familiarise yourself with the vast variety of wood types. This will help you choose the right type of wood best suited to your needs. 

Let’s look into the different types of wood you can use to make your furniture.

An infographic explaining the types of wood best for furniture making including types of hardwoods and types of softwoods

Types of Wood for Furniture

The simplest way to categorise wood is according to hardness. There are two main categories of woods based on this characteristic: hardwood and softwood. Each has a different set of benefits, depending on its intended uses. 

In general, hardwood is heavier, denser, and more suitable for furniture, while softwood is typically lighter, less dense, and easier to work with.

Type of Hardwoods

Hardwoods come from angiosperms, meaning that they produce their seeds enclosed within a fruit. These trees lose their leaves annually and grow slowly. Because they grow slowly, hardwoods tend to have denser wood fibres, making them more durable, but harder to work with. 

Common types of hardwoods used to make furniture include: 

  • Red Oak
  • Walnut
  • Mahogany
  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Maple 
  • Cherry
  • Beech

Types of Softwoods

Softwoods come from gymnosperms, which are seed-bearing evergreen trees. Gymnosperms tend to grow more quickly, making them less dense, but they also tend to grow tall and straight, making it easier to cut long straight planks of wood.

Common types of softwoods used to make furniture include: 

  • Pine
  • Red Cedar
  • White Spruce
  • Larch
  • Western Hemlock
A close up of a wood sideboard showing it's quality and unique characteristics.

Important Wood Characteristics

Hardwoods and softwoods have a variety of different characteristics and properties that make them more or less appropriate for different purposes. It’s important to explore your wood options and choose the one that best fits the project and your budget.

Some characteristics and properties to consider include:

  • Hardness
  • Grain
  • Colour
  • Resistance to moisture 
  • How well it finishes

Characteristics of Hardwood

Hardwoods are generally more durable and long-lasting compared to softwoods. They tend to be darker in colour and resist moisture well, making them more resistant to warping. 

Hardwoods usually have a wavier grain, which can be highlighted with a clear finish. 

Hardwoods are typically more expensive than softwood, but are more cost-effective in the long run due to their durability.

Characteristics of Softwood

Softwoods are typically lighter in colour, but absorb adhesives and stains easily, making them easy to customise to your space.

Softwoods are lightweight and easy to work with, making them a great option if you’re new to working with wood. While softwoods tend to be less expensive, they are less durable than hardwoods and may need to be replaced or repaired more often. 

What is the Best Wood for Furniture?

Overall, hardwoods are usually better when it comes to building furniture. It is important that the furniture in your house is built to last and can stand up to regular daily use, which is why using a durable wood like oak, maple, or cherry is beneficial. 

While hardwoods are great for making furniture, it all depends on where and how the furniture will be used, the extent of detail work you want, and what type of stain you want. For furniture that won’t be used as often, softwoods are a great material option! 

Ask an Expert

Our team at Birchwood Furniture are experts when it comes to furniture. If you are having a hard time deciding on which wood is best for your furniture, we can help! Contact us if you have any questions or concerns. If you are looking for high-quality furniture to transform your space, visit Birchwood Furniture or explore our online catalogue today!

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