Wood Species

Wood Species Samples



Wood comes in many flavors. Pictured here are some of the species that have been favored by furniture and cabinet makers over the years. All these samples have a clear coating over natural wood.

Click on the pictures for a full-size view of any wood sample.

Alder

Alder

This peach-colored wood is often subsituted for cherry, with a similar tight, even grain, though it is somewhat lighter in appearance. Light weight, fairly soft.

Andiroba

Andiroba

A tropical hardwood, Andiroba is a rich caramel color, with an even, fairly uniform grain. Hard and dense, it is great cabinet wood.

Ash

Ash

An open-grained wood of a light cream color, it is very tough and springy, used often for bending into curves. Medium hardness, light weight.

Beech

Beech

Used extensively in Europe, it is less common in America. Nearly as hard as Hard Maple and equally stable, it is a tough wood and also bends and laminates well into skis, chairs, and other curved parts. Smooth, fine grained texture; fairly heavy, very hard.

Birch

Birch

Birch is a dependable cabinet wood, often used under a stained or otherwise colored finish, or in its natural cream-colored sapwood and tan heartwood. Even grain, medium weight, fairly hard.

Birch

Bubinga

Bubinga -- even the name sounds exotic. This tropical hardwood is heavy and strong; it can be substituted for Rosewood, finishing to a dark, rich color as it ages..

Cedar

Aromatic
Cedar

This wood's fragrance when cut gives it a use in closets and wardrobes as a moth repellant; though it is usually knotty and difficult to work, it can be used in furniture making. Its pleasant aroma makes it almost a sin to put any type of finish on it. Light weight, fairly tough.

Cherry

Black
Cherry

This handsome wood has been used for centuries in the finest furniture; its original almost pasty cream color will age over the years to a rich burgundy brown. Medium weight and hardness, it planes and finishes well.

Cypress

Cypress

Adapted to its habitat in marshes and swamplands, cypress is fairly resistant to decay. A good choice for outdoor furniture, it is soft with a grain and texture somewhat like pine.

Hackberry

Hackberry

This relative of sycamore, though not well-known, makes a stable, tight-grained cabinet wood with uses in furniture making and woodwork. Similar in appearance to Beech, it is medium weight and hardness.

Hickory

Hickory

Hickory is likely used in the handles of your garden tools; it is a tough, open-grained wood like oak, but with a lighter cream color. Very hard and heavy, and resistant to splitting, it can also be used in furniture.

Jatoba

Jatoba

A hard, dense tropical wood, with a color and texture that can mimic rosewood.

Koa

Koa

Native to Hawaii, Koa is about the weight and look of walnut, though the color varies wildly in often unique patterns and figures. Very stable, fairly heavy and tough.

Locust

Black
Locust

Difficult to dry without splitting, the pieces that survive the drying process display three separate bands of color, producing unique and distinctive patterns in each plank. Open-grain wood, medium weight and hardness.

Mahogany

Genuine
Mahogany

Perhaps the cabinetmaker's most sought-after wood, its extreme dimensionally stability, fine, even grain and resistance to weathering make long-lasting furniture as well as doors and windows. Heavy and tough, medium hardness.

Phillippine Mahogany

Phillippine
Mahogany

This sub-species of mahogany is not as dark or as heavy, and has a coarser more open-pored grain. Stains well, fairly tough.

Hard Maple

Hard Maple

Also called Rock Maple, it lives up to the name: a very tough wood used often in countertops and butcher blocks, but also fine furniture. Heavy and dense, it also often develops striking curly, figured or burled wood.

Silver Maple

Silver Maple

A relative to Hard Maple, the texture and grain is comparable, though its contrasting heartwood is a darker caramel brown color. Light weight, very low hardness.

Mulberry

Mulberry

This orange-colored wood quickly ages to a deep reddish brown. Not used extensively in furniture, it is a bit prone to warping but is very hard and weather resistant.

Red Oak

Red Oak

A staple in furniture of all types but especially in craftsman style, this durable wood comes in many varieties; it is often cut as "quartersawn" lumber to reveal the striking and distinctive ray-flake pattern. Coarse open grain; heavy and very tough.

White Oak

White Oak

Heavier and a bit harder than red oak, but is a light putty color instead. Often used in furniture where a paler tone is wanted. Also cut and used as quartersawn lumber. Very tough.

Padauk

Padauk.

A tropical hardwood whose initial beet-red color will age to a dark sandy brown, it makes a good source for small carvings and trim. Medium weight, fairly hard.

Persimmon

Persimmon

The persimmon is usually a small tree, but its wood's beauty makes up for the small yield. This relative of tropical ebony has jet-black heartwood inside creamy sapwood. Medium weight, its exceptional toughness finds a use as the shuttles in weaving looms.

Poplar

Poplar

A workhorse species for cabinetmakers and patternmakers, this wood is very stable, fairly weather-resistant and consistent in grain and texture, making it easy to shape and work. A good surface for stain and paint. Medium hardness and toughness.

Purpleheart

Purpleheart

The name of this dense tropical hardwood sure fits, as its deep purple color only gets deeper as it ages. Very tough, very heavy.

Rosewood

Rosewood

A tropical wood (sad to say now very rare), this wood is heavy and oily, its dark rich color making great detail carvings. Very hard and dense.

Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum

A "sleeper" cabinet wood, this species exhibits a sometimes dazzling pattern. Though it's seldom used commercially, the subtle variations of its warm leather color make a nice display. Fairly soft, light weight.

Sycamore

Sycamore

This wood is used in cabinet parts and drawers, and occasionally for the whole piece. It is fairly hard and dimensionally stable. Medium weight.

Teak

Teak

The boatbuilder's perfect wood, this tropical species is practically impervious to the ravages of water and weather, thanks to chemicals deposited in the cells. Very hard and tough.

Walnut

Walnut

A classic material for furnituremaking, this princely wood has a dark brown tone without the use of stain; it is fine-grained, very stable, and easy to work. Medium hardness and weight.

Willow

Willow

An affordable wood, willow can be stained to match more expensive woods, but it has a dusty yellow color and delicate, feathery grain that needs no further adornment. Light weight and fairly soft.