A Guide to Furniture Wood Types

JeffDesign, Wood

Baskets containing stain samples on different woods

Almost every piece of our furniture can be built in any of our wood species. Every type has different characteristics and takes stain differently. We price everything by wood, and everything is available in a variety of stains.

Although some of the wood species are harder than others, we only offer American hardwoods — nothing soft. Everything below is suitable for any type of furniture we offer!


Oak Wood SamplesOak is a beloved wood and used for all kinds of purposes —chances are you have some Oak in your home already! Cut from the Red Oak tree in the Northeast United States, Oak’s defining visual feature is the pronounced grain (as seen in the picture above.) It takes stain very consistently, so the color is the same throughout the piece of furniture. You won’t find any knots on our Oak furniture. We don’t just offer the traditional Honey colored Oak — Oak can be stained light, dark or anything in between. There’s a lot of choices no matter what style you’re looking for.

Brown Maple

Brown Maple Wood SamplesOne of our best selling woods, Brown Maple has a tighter, finer grain which gives it a smoother and glassier look absent of any knots. Brown Maple has a lot of variation in the way it stains — you will often see darker and lighter spots. Take a look at this piece of unfinished Brown Maple and look at the dark and light spots. Once stained, this gives a lot of depth to the piece of furniture which is a popular look. Brown Maple shows off the true beauty of natural wood and is a great way to get an updated look in your furniture.

Cherry/Rustic Cherry

Cherry Wood SamplesOur Cherry wood comes from the Black Cherry tree, grown in Eastern North America. Cherry has a tighter grain and can appear similar to Brown Maple, but the grain has a beautiful, unusual wave to it. The color is more consistent throughout (depending on the stain) but you will still see natural variation in the lights and darks. Cherry darkens a bit as it ages (over the course of a couple months) which can be sped up when exposed to sunlight.

We offer both Clear Cherry and Rustic Cherry. These options both come from the same tree, however different boards are selected for each option. Rustic Cherry will use some boards with knots while Clear Cherry will only use boards without any knots. Knots can be filled or left open, depending on taste. Rustic Cherry is a popular choice for distressed tables, or to just give a piece a little more character.

Quarter Sawn White Oak

Quarter Sawn White Oak SamplesWhite Oak is grown in the Eastern United States, and Quarter Sawn White Oak is named from the way it is cut. The logs are cut into quarters, which make the boards very dense and show off a beautiful grain full of flecks and rays. The density makes Quarter Sawn Oak very strong and heavy. Quarter Sawn White Oak is available in rustic which leaves in knots, and non-rustic which does not include knots. Popular in Craftsman and Mission styles, Quarter Sawn Oak is a timeless look that never goes out of style.


Elm Wood SampleElm has a very distinct, “feathered” grain. It’s bold and gorgeous – our Elm pieces never stay in the store for long! Since the grain is very “busy”, a popular look is to use Elm on only part of the piece, and two-tone it with a dark Brown Maple as on our Canterbury Leg Table.

Hard Maple

Hard Maple Wood SampleHard Maple comes from the “Sugar Maple” tree from Northeast America. The grain is fine and generally straight instead of wavy. It’s harder and more dense than a lot of our other woods, but its tight grain means it doesn’t absorb stain very well. Dark stains will often look dull and blotchy. If you’re looking to go with Hard Maple, we recommend lighter stains. Related article: Why Don’t You Stain Hard Maple Dark?

Hickory/Rustic Hickory

Rustic Hickory Wood SampleHickory is one of the hardest and most dense woods native to the United States. Hickory is often used when extra strength is needed, for instance it’s commonly used for ax handles. It has a strong grain with a lot of color variation, which gives it a distinctly rustic look.


Walnut Wood SampleWalnut, cut from Black Walnut trees in the Eastern United States, is a very beautiful hardwood. It’s a high premium wood that’s often sought out by woodworkers. It’s often left natural or with a slightly darker stain to preserve its natural character. We rarely sell a piece made completely of Walnut —it’s commonly paired with other woods as inlays or as a table top.