' Guide: Types of Furniture Wood | Descriptions and pictures | – British Originals
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Guide: Types of Furniture Wood | Descriptions & pictures |

Antique furniture care maintenance FAQ furniture wood guide identification

We know it can be hard to distinguish different types of wood especially under different furniture finishes. There are masses of different types (imagine all the species of tree in the world). Below are some of the common wood types originally used to make British Originals' pieces

Common furniture woods

Shade

Name

Description

Light – Dark

Oak

A slow growing tree, taking between 150 – 200 years to reach maturity. The wood is hard and pale in colour, but darkens to a rich brown with age and polishing. Furniture made from oak is usually heavy, solid and simple in design. From the mid 17th Century oak was mainly used for the carcass and drawer linings of furniture.

Medium - Deep Maroon.

 

Mahogany

A close grained hardwood, native to South America and the West Indies. It varies in colour from quite pale when sun faded to dark brown / Maroon. Flame mahogany has very visible grain in a flame shape. As the girth of the tree is broad furniture makers were able to use a single cut of wood for a table top. Furniture made from mahogany became very popular in Britain from mid 18th Century due to it’s exotic nature and plentiful supply as it was used as ballast in trading ships of the era.

Light

 Beech

 A pale, robust, hardwood often used in chair construction or as the body wood of furniture construction

Light

 

Ash 

A hardwood used in furniture and cabinet construction.

Light – Medium

Pine A softwood characterised by big grain and sometimes lots of knots. Colour varies with finishing product from very pale to a deep orange/red

Light – Medium

 

Pitch Pine An eastern North American pine tree (Pinus rigida) that yields pitch or turpentine.

Medium – Dark

 

Teak  Tropical hardwood popular for ship building and outdoor furniture construction.

Medium to Dark

Walnut  A medium to dark, close grained hardwood used for furniture construction and veneering. The colour varying between light golden brown and light grey brown, often with a rich grain pattern. Burr Walnut is the term for walnut with knotty whorls in the grain where injuries occurred on the trunk or the roots of the tree.

Light

Sycamore Sycamore is a hard, pale wood with a fine even grain. It is also known as Harewood.

Medium

 

Bird’s–Eye Maple

Popular for veneers btwn 1800 & 1920 The wood is specked and polishes well.

It’s used as a decorative feature as it features small concentric circles resembling that of a bird's eye

Pale -Medium

Elm A hard and durable wood. Chairs were made from elm in the Georgian period. It has a particularly attractive grain and polishes well. More recently Elm was used in Ercol dining suites.

Medium

Alder  A light brown hardwood from the Birch family. Often seen with elm in Chairs.

Rarer woods used in furniture 

Shade

Name

Description

Light

Birch 

A close grained wood used in furniture and plywood construction.

Medium

Cherry 

Hardwood obtained from the cherry tree used in furniture construction.

Light

Maple 

Hardwood with a tight grain and blond color popular in furniture construction.

Light – Medium 

Yellow Pine

Any of several North American pines (as a Ponderosa pine or longleaf pine) with yellowish wood. Often seen in furniture of an older age ( when there was much importing of the raw materials)

Light

Poplar 

A softwood from the Birch family often used as a secondary wood in furniture construction.

Dark

 

Kingwood

Kingwood is a rich brown colour with purplish tones. It was used as a veneer or for parquetry decoration, particularly in France.

Light

Satinwood

Satinwood became popular in the early 19 th Century. It was used for veneers, inlaid decoration and the pale colour made it suitable for painting. It made a revival in the Edwardian era

Dark

 

Calamander

Calamander is a member of the ebony family. Popular in the Regency period, it is light brown in colour, striped, mottled with black and was used for veneers and banding.

Very Dark 

Rosewood

A very dark brown hardwood, with an almost black wavy grain. The name comes from the scent released when the wood is cut. It is used for inlaid decoration and veneer, but was not used for making solid furniture until the early 19 th Century


Still not sure? Contact us with a good picture or two and our experts will try to help 


' Product reviews added 06/07/18