18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Wood is one of the most widely used materials in construction today because it is easy to work with. From building houses and flooring to making small craft, there’s almost no limit to its permeability. This is why it’s no surprise that wood remains an important part of furniture building, even with the technological strides we’ve recorded in recent times.

The best types of wood for furniture building will vary from one project to another. While hardwoods like oak and mahogany favor many high-end furniture projects, softwoods such as pine and cedar are also used to build quality but more affordable furniture pieces.

The rest of this article will take a closer look at the 17 best types of wood for furniture building and the important things you need to know about each of them.

What Is Wood?

In simple terms, wood is what you get from the trunk (and sometimes branches) of trees when you cut them down. The log that is transformed into wood is made up of many intricate parts when alive. The different species of trees means that there are also many types of wood. Wood is divided into two groups: hardwood and softwood.


Hardwood is generally derived from deciduous trees with broad leaves (also known as angiosperms). These trees lose their leaves during each fall. As each year rolls by, the wood fibers grow denser, making the wood harder.

Hardwood Features

Hardwood is known for its durability. It is less likely to decay when compared to softwood. It’s dense, contains low sap content, and is resistant to fire. This is why it is commonly used in flooring applications. Hardwood is typically more expensive than softwood because it grows a lot more slowly. It is a good option when making furniture designed to last centuries. However, some types are not a good fit for furniture making.

Best Hardwoods for Furniture Making

The best hardwoods highly rated for furniture making are covered below:


Walnut is a top option for furniture making because it’s durable, strong, and hard. It’s easy to carve and can maintain its shape for decades. This is why it is used to make ornate furniture where the craftsmen have to show their artistry and craftsmanship. When making furniture you’d like to hand down across different generations, it should be high on the list.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

The color of walnut wood can be white, dark chocolate brown, or light pale brown. Whatever the tint, you’re also most likely to find a dark streak of brown running through it.

There are a few walnut wood types, including North American walnut, black walnut, Caribbean walnut, and Brazilian walnut. In the US, walnuts can be found across Vermont, Texas, and Louisiana. The walnut color in the US can be white or dark brown, but it comes with large, easily-identified burls.

Walnut comes with typically straight grain, but there are often visible waves closer to its roots. The wood’s shock resistance, rich color, and dimensional strength are some of the reasons why it is a popular option for furniture making in the US and beyond.

Apart from high-end furniture fabrications, you’ll also find walnut on musical instruments, gun handles, flooring, and more. Walnut furniture is best finished with oil-based polyurethane.


Oak is one of the most durable types of hardwood. It is one of the best examples of how a tree’s slow growth can make it very dense, increasing its quality. It easily takes on all types of finishes, making it an excellent option for traditional and contemporary furniture crafting.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

With around 90 species, the US is home to the largest oak wood gathering in the world. The bulk of the species are found in the eastern and central US. It’s no surprise that a large number of American antiques are made of oak wood. With proper care, oak furniture will remain in use for centuries.

Oakwood color ranges from pinkish-red to light brown. Properly finished oak furniture is typically resistant to scratches and stains.

More than 600 species of oak exist worldwide, with the most common options being white oak and red oak. As the names imply, the latter always has hints of red while the former has the light brown color that oak is generally known for. Oak has straight grains, and the growth rings are evident.

Its density and strength make it resistant to fungal attacks—another reason why furniture made from the wood remains durable for a long time.


Mahogany is another durable hardwood trusted a great deal in furniture making—especially in the fabrication of intricate furniture pieces. The species come with a fine, straight grain. The trees are always large-sized; hence the wood produced typically comes in large boards. The size is also another reason why it’s used as center-piece furniture.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

The timeless look of mahogany will add some vibrancy to any space. Like other similar hardwood, mahogany furniture can be handed down across generations as long as it’s cared for properly.

Mahogany grows across Africa and the tropics, but it is native to Central and South America and Mexico. In recent times, African mahogany has become more widely used than South American mahogany for various reasons. However, most antique furniture makers still prefer mahogany from the Americas.

Mahogany wood color can be pink, reddish-brown, blood-red, or pale. The color darkens over time. It also comes with a straight grain. The elegant and timeless look of mahogany, as well as the large size, is why you’re likely to find it in many homes as high-end dining tables.

You’ll also find this medium texture wood in use on interior millwork, exterior doors, as well as windows and trims.


Ash wood is popularly used in the production of baseball bats, but it’s also an excellent furniture making option. The wood’s ability to hold screws, nails, and glue makes it a popular option amongst carpenters. The wood’s toughness and flexibility are the major reasons why furniture makers can ignore the somewhat unpleasant smell.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Ashwood has a creamy-brown, light color. The grain is open, with some brown streaks occasionally running through it. The wood accepts all kinds of finish. In addition to baseball bats, it can be used to make conventional home furniture and boxes, crates, and tool handles.


Birch is another durable hardwood found in abundance across North America. The species come in a beautiful cream or light reddish-brown color, which has made them a popular option in creating modern furniture. Its grain shows clean-lines.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Birch can be found along the Appalachians, as well as in the Great Lakes and Northeast regions. The wood’s durable nature makes it an excellent option for furniture making and all types of woodworking.

The elegance of plain birch is one reason why it is an integral part of many minimalist interior décors today. Birch is similar to oak, but it’s harder. Also, the fact that birch is often more readily available (and more affordable) means there’s a higher chance of seeing furniture made from it than oak.

Therefore, the wood is very stable and is a top option used in making seats, bed frames, boxes, interior doors, cabinets, plywood, and more. It’s also another wood option that isn’t fussy about what type of finish you choose when used in furniture making.


Maple is one of the strongest wood types used in furniture making. In fact, it’s what you’re likely to find as the material on pieces of furniture that see regular use every day, including dining sets and dressers. Apart from the durability, maple is also an affordable hardwood option.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Most of the species are native to Asia and common across the Great Lakes region of North America. Maple has a reddish-brown color, but dark stains also look great on it. This is why it’s often stained to look like other expensive options such as mahogany. It comes with a fine, straight grain, but you’ll also find fiddleback or bird’ s-eye patterns from time to time.

Maple wood also comes in hard and soft variants of its own. Soft maple can be identified by the slightly darker coloration, while hard maple tends to come with a lighter color.

Maple wood is also a top choice for kitchen furniture because it can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth. It’s also resistant to splitting, even with regular use, and takes all kinds of finishes.


Cherry wood comes from the American black cherry tree. It is known for its uniform and very straight gain. Polished and finished cherry has a magnificent look that is unmistakable. It is another option that is regularly used in the making of antique furniture. With some care, it can last multiple generations.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Cherry wood is a highly-rated hardwood amongst furniture makers and the woodworks industry in general.

Cherry is mostly found in the eastern United States. The wood has a pinkish-brown color initially, but it takes a darker red color with time. Furniture makers love it because its flexibility makes it an ideal option for making complicated furniture designs with lots of curves.

Apart from furniture and cabinets making, cherry is also a good option for making musical instruments, flooring, interior millwork, and designing specialty wood items. Experts typically use light and natural finishes on cherry wood to ensure the wood’s beauty can continue to shine through over time.


Beech wood is an option loved for the dated but elegant look it delivers when used in furniture making. It’s another tough but flexible wood option. It has grains running straight through it, and it also has a medium texture distribution.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

The 10-13 species of beech are native to the temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and North America.

Beech is used in different furniture applications and making woodenware, flooring, musical equipment, and more. You can also use all kinds of finish on beech.


Poplar is one of the more affordable hardwood options. It’s also flexible, making it a good option for furniture making. Poplar can be found across most parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

The wood has a light color, but the heartwood contains some green or brown streaks. Poplar isn’t as aesthetically appealing as some others on this list, so it’s often painted in most applications. You’ll also find it in drawers or other use cases where its hard-wearing nature will be useful.


Teak wood is native to tropical Asia. It’s popular as the wood of choice for making outdoor furniture. This is because of its weather-resistant nature and elegance. Its rarity, however, means that it’s one of the more expensive hardwood options on this list.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

With teak, you get a golden-brown color with an oily feel to it. It is moderately hard and can take a wide range of finishes. As a rare hardwood, you’ll have to check with larger specialty suppliers and lumberyards if you’d like to use teak in your furniture making.


Bamboo is the wood of choice when eco-friendly use is the topic. Its blond color makes it a magnificent option to use in furniture making. There’s always disagreement on whether bamboo should be classified as a hardwood, especially considering that it’s actually a grass instead of a conventional tree. However, strand woven bamboo is generally 2-3 times harder than most hardwoods.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Bamboo is an eco-friendly choice because it grows faster than most hardwoods. Some species can grow 910 mm (36 in) within a day. Bamboo is a good choice for furniture making because it can resist shrinking and swelling.

It’s hard to beat bamboo in terms of availability, as it grows everywhere apart from Antarctica and Europe. The soft blonde color may sometimes give way to a warm, medium tone in some places. Bamboo is typically used in the making of modern interior furniture.


Softwood is derived from coniferous or evergreen trees. Also known as gymnosperms, these trees retain their cones all year round. Typical examples of softwood include pine, cedar, fir, cypress, and more. Softwoods are generally not as hardwoods, but some hardwoods (such as Balsa) are softer than typical softwoods.

Softwood Features

Softwood trees are typically slender and very tall. They also grow faster than hardwoods. The slender nature of most softwood trees means it’s easy to create lubers from them. It also means that they are popular in construction as planks or poles.

However, they are also useful in furniture making because they have a lightweight structure. They stain quickly due to a lack of vessels. They also absorb adhesives very fast and have a lower resistance to fire when compared to hardwoods.

Best Softwoods for Furniture Making

Below is a look at common softwoods that are popular in furniture making.

Pine Wood

Pine is a lightweight wood that is commonly used to make furniture for farmhouse or rustic interior décor. It’s also inexpensive, making it a good option for people who aren’t looking to invest large sums in furniture and look for furniture pieces they can easily move around. Pine takes paints easily, which is why you’re likely to find it in use where colored furniture is required—like children’s rooms and classrooms.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Pine can be found across the entire Northern Hemisphere. It comes with a white to light brown color, with a slight touch of red or yellow. It also comes with beautiful knots responsible for the rustic feel and character associated with the wood. It can also be distinguished by the straight grains and growth rings of dark brown lines across the wood.

There are different pine species, but you’re likely to find variants like the scot pine, eastern white pine, pitch pine, Parana pine, and lodgepole pine in lumber yards across the US.

Pinewood doesn’t swell or shrink, so furniture made from it can maintain its shape for a long time. Most pines species accept finishes easily, but a water-based or oil-based polyurethane seal is often required to avoid color bleeding.

Red Cedar

Red cedar is a softwood native to eastern North America. It is used widely in furniture making because it is easy to shape. The wood color ranges from pale yellow or whitish sapwood to violet or reddish-brown heartwood. It’s a lightweight option with straight grains and lots of knots, but the wood has a hard texture.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Red cedar is popular in outdoor furniture construction. It’s also useful in the making of closets, chest linings, and more. Red cedar isn’t great at taking nails and glue, however, so other joining (such as the use of metallic hardware) is usually required. The wood takes most finishes, but oil finishes typically deliver the best results.

White Spruce

White spruce is pulpwood found in different parts of North America. It’s useful in papermaking, but the lumber also works well in furniture making. It has a light brown color and a fine grain that goes all the way through.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

It’s a moderate hardwood type that takes nails and screws easily. However, it shouldn’t be high on your list for durable furniture that can last years. The wood is only slightly resistant to decay.


Larch trees can be found across the Northern Hemisphere. The wood color ranges from yellow to medium to reddish-brown heartwood and sapwood that is almost white. The wood doesn’t hold up well against fungal attacks. This is balanced out by its rot and pest resistance as a result of natural resins.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Larch wood is useful in furniture making due to its medium weight and excellent strength. It comes with straight or spiraled grains, and the texture is oily. Larch is used in furniture making and a wide range of other applications such as exterior and interior joinery, veneer, boat building, fence post-construction, and more.


Fir can be found across Europe, North and Central America, Asia, and North Africa. Also known as Douglas Fir, the wood has a pronounced, straight grain and a reddish-brown tint. The wood is typically used in construction, but it’s also regularly used in furniture-making since it’s inexpensive.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

The wood’s uninteresting grain pattern and its inability to take stains properly mean that it’s one of the wood options to use when you’re looking to make inexpensive, painted furniture. The wood is moderately strong and is readily available in most lumber shops.


Redwood is commonly found across Northern California. Just like cedar, it is a popular option in outdoor furniture making due to its moisture resistance. The wood is soft and comes with a straight grain. It also has a reddish tint.

18 Best Types of Wood for Furniture Building

Working with redwood is easy due to its softness and flexibility. It’s another option that is easy to find, and it’s moderately priced.

Western Hemlock

Western Hemlock wood is mostly found across the west coast of Northern America, British Columbia, and Alaska’s coastal rainforest. The wood has a light, reddish-brown heartwood, and lighter color sapwood. The grain runs straight, with a coarse, uneven texture.

The wood is popular in furniture making but is also useful in making boxes, millwork, cabinets, frames, pellets, plywood, and more. Pieces of furniture made from western hemlock are best finished using clear options.


What Is the Overall Best Wood for Furniture?

In general, hardwoods are regarded as the best to use for furniture. However, picking a specific option as the overall best depends on several factors ranging from your budget to the type of look you’re going for. Similarly, if you’re building furniture that will be handed down across generations, your needs will be different.

However, maple wood is often preferred for most indoor furniture construction applications. It offers the right balance between durability and aesthetic appeal.

What Is the Strongest Wood in Existence?

If you’d like to construct your furniture with the strongest wood in existence, you should pay attention to the Janka Hardness Test. The hardest wood is the quebracho (axe breaker in English) with a 4,570 LBF measurement on the Janka scale.

Lignum vitae closely follows it at 4,390 LBF. However, the strength of these woods means that they are not a good option for regular furniture construction. There’s also the small matter of finding lumber yards that stock them.

What Wood Is the Best for Desk Constructions?

The best woods for desk constructions are maple, oak, and cherry. Maple wood is a popular option because, apart from its durability, it can be found at competitive prices. Oak is also durable but a bit pricier. It is, however, very good at accepting finishes.

Cherry is the most beautiful of the lot, so it should be high on your list if you’re looking to construct desks that will add style and character to space. It’s also not as affordable as maple, but it’s also very durable.

What Wood Is the Best for Tables?

If you are looking to construct a table, you won’t go wrong with maple or walnut. As you’ve seen above, maple is useful in a wide range of applications thanks to its extreme durability and the ability to take all kinds of stains. It can take virtually any look you want, so it’s a great option to choose when you are looking to construct a table.

Walnut is another alternative you can look at. It’s also as durable as maple, but its beautiful grain character means your table will stand out, especially when you use clear stains.

What Are the Most Expensive Woods for Furniture?

Availability and location play an important role in the overall price of woods you can use in furniture making. In general, however, you can expect the following woods to be more expensive than other types (in no particular order):

  • Rosewood
  • Mahogany
  • Elm
  • Pink ivory
  • Lignum vitae
  • Dalbergia
  • Bocote
  • Sandalwood
  • African blackwood
  • Ebony
  • Agar
  • Bubinga
  • Maple
  • Snakewood

What Is the Most Affordable Wood for Furniture?

Pine is the cheapest wood to use in furniture making. It grows very quickly, so there’s always a high supply of pine lumber in most stores. The wood is also not the most durable. Still, it’s good enough for standard furniture constructions, especially as it also blends well with other wood types. Bamboo is also affordable, but it’s limited in terms of the type of furniture you can make with it.


When looking for the best types of wood for furniture making, you have first to determine your needs and then go for the best hardwood or softwood that best matches the use case.

Other factors like your budget and the wood choice availability in your area will also play an important role. However, you can be sure to find popular options like maple, mahogany, pine, cherry in most lumberyards.


Recent Posts