Choosing the right wood for furniture

Do you ever wonder how makers of furniture choose their wood? Well there is always a reason behind a choice of wood.

Almost any type of wood can be used for furniture, but some wood are more suitable for furniture making than others, based on strength, durability, availability, and cost.

Wood such as oak, walnut, ash, or maple are all medium to high durability, strength and stability. Furniture made of these wood will easily fit in with the rest of your furniture. Some of the cheaper, softer woods such as douglas fir or pine can be beautiful and interesting but definitely less durable.

Some of the exotic woods such as wenge or monkeypod can make a work of art that is unique but must consider whether you would like a stand-out furniture as the it most probably won’t blend in with the rest. So there are a few things to bear in mind when making a choice.

The difference in the total cost of a project between the cheap and more expensive woods may only be 10-20% as the majority of costing incurs from extensive labour time in making the furniture or cabinets. We reccommend you to make the slight extra investment to get a durable common furniture grade wood than opt for the cheaper kinds of wood.

Here is a summary of furniture wood we often use at Satoshi Yamauchi Woodworks. These wood can be obtained easily through local suppliers, who generally have a good inventory of these lumber.

Oak is a popular wood for furniture and kitchen cabinets. Usually oak is not stained (though it takes the stain very wel), when not stained, it ends to yellow over time creating a lovely golden colour. It is very hard and durable. We generally use white oak as the grains are finer (less porous) than red oak. We like liming the oak to create a driftwood/antique/beach effect.

Ash is a stable wood with excellent shock resitant qualities. Very similar to oak but is more affordable. Tends to yellow over time and finishes very nicely.




Walnut, also known as American Walnut or Black Walnut is the perfect wood for dark furniture peices. Walnut is hard, stable and very durable. It can have straight grains as well as wavy ones. Can also be used for food grade peices such as dishes and chopping board.




Maple comes in many varieties, but it is generally a hard wood. Medium strength and relatively stable (soft maple is slightly more stable than hard maple). Maple offers a very light and even sapwood. Maple can be hard to stain evenly, especially where the grain changes. Birds eye maple is a premium piece of maple.


Mahogany is one of the traditional furniture woods, praised for the straight, smooth, semi-open grain that accepts a fine finish. It’s strength is comparable to oak. It withstands moisture well so it is suitable for doors, windows and outdoor projects. The color of the wood can range widely – from yellow brown, to reddish dark brown. With age it darkens slightly.



Teak is a durable wood that makes great outdoor furniture and holds finish very well. Very strong and hard but can be brittle. Very stable and durable. Colour varies from golden brown tto brown and can have straight or wavy grains.