Types of Timber for Furniture

What is timber?

There are different types of timber for furniture production and other construction works. A timber generally, is a type of wood that has been processed into planks and beams for construction purposes. Timber is also known as lumber. In essence, any wood that is capable of yielding a minimum dimensional size can be considered timber. Timbers are mostly used for furniture and building construction purposes and are produced in standard sizes for the industry.

Classes of Timber

  1. Hardwoods
  2. Softwoods


Hardwoods are a type of timber made from angiosperm trees which aren’t monocots; they’re usually broad-leaved with vessel elements that transport water throughout the wood, these elements appear as pores under a microscope.

Hardwoods are commonly used in high-quality flooring,  furniture, decks, and other construction that are required to last for generations. Most hardwoods have a higher density compared to most softwoods and they are expensive.

Some of the examples of hardwood trees include hickory, mahogany, maple, balsa, beech,  oak, teak, walnut, and alder.


Softwoods are derived from gymnosperm trees which have needles and cones. The cellular structure referred to as medullary rays and tracheids in gymnosperm trees transport water and produce sap and when viewed under a microscope,  they need no visible pores due to tracheid. Over 70% of timber comes from softwood, they need a good range of applications and are found in building components like windows, doors, furniture, medium-density fiberboard, and household wooden frames.

Some examples of softwood trees are Douglas fir, cedar,  redwood,  pine, yew, juniper, and spruce.

Types of timber for furniture

  1. Ash
  2. Acacia
  3. Beech
  4. Cedar
  5. Mahogany
  6. Conifer
  7. Cherry
  8. Douglas fir
  9. Birch
  10. Elm
  11. Maple
  12. Oak
  13. Pine
  14. Teak
  15. Walnut
  16. Bamboo


Ash is a type of timber with white-to-pale brown-colored wood which has a straight and attractive grain. It is commonly used in furniture production and is a good substitute for white oak, easy to work with. The timber of this type of wood can be stained to virtually any color.

One major advantage of ash wood over other types of timber is its resistance to decay. It is mostly used in modern furniture for its attractiveness and wide availability. Natively, they are found in European forests, and can occasionally be found in North America.


Acacia is a type of timber derived from the  Acacia shrubs and trees, which are natively found in the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa, and some parts of the Americas. The timber derived from any acacia wood is perfect for building long-lasting items of furniture and homewares of different types. There are more than a thousand varieties of Acacia trees worldwide.

Acacia woods are naturally smooth and appear, even more, better when polished. they are warm in tone and usually could display quite a distinctive and attractive natural wood grain. Acacia wood looks very stunning whether polished or natural. Like many other types of timber, acacia wood is naturally resistant to bacterial attack and is very safe to use for preparing and serving food.


Beech is a white pale to brown timber. Natively found in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden where it is used for almost everything from furniture to flooring and firewood. A variety of furniture designed to be painted rather than using expensive oak or ash is mostly made from beech timber because of its fairly bland grain.


It is one of the major commonly used lightweight timber, the most common type of cedar is western red. Cedar in its natural state is pinkish-red in color, a relative softwood with straight grain, and is commonly used for outdoor furniture, wall cladding, deck handrails, and window frames.

Cedar timber is highly resistant to rot and moist environments, t is very useful in building construction, and is proven to be durable and relatively cheap, and affordable.


This is one of the most costly timber, it has a distinctive, dark red-brown color that makes it work perfectly for virtually all kinds of furniture works, and most times it is used in fine and high-quality furniture. This wood species of timber has a pleasingly fine straight grain and because of the trees’ large size, it is produced in large sheets. This makes it suitable for any focal point furniture work.

Mahogany has an impressively timeless look and adds warmth to a room where it is used, it is often used in musical instruments, giving the sound a rich and warm tone. Any mahogany wood furniture with proper care can last for generations. While very common in antique furniture works, it has become obsolete in today’s furniture world as it is not sustainably grown any longer.


Cherry timber is known for its extremely straight and uniform grain. It polishes well and has a very beautiful finished outlook. It is also known for its popular use for antique furniture, with proper care, cherry can last for centuries. For many craftsmen, cherry timber is usually a prized hardwood, and furniture made from it is an investment that will pay off in the long term.

Cherry timber is found in the eastern United States. Usually cherry becomes more impressively beautiful and attractive as it ages. It makes one of the best wooden pieces of furniture that can last for generations if properly taken care of.


Fir often referred to as Oregon or Douglas Fir is reddish-brown wood in color, and is commonly grown in North America and the UK. Fir is also a popular choice for rafter material in most buildings in Australia.

Fir woods are quality types of timber for furniture works such as doors, windows, and sashes and also a variety of furniture products including general millwork, flooring, and cabinets. it is also used for making veneer, vats, ships, boats, transmission poles, and for marine pilings.

Due to its strength, Douglas-fir as it is popularly known is primarily used for building and construction works. It is very hard and highly resistant to any form of scratch or wear which makes it perfectly suitable for use where wearing is a factor, such as wharves, trestles, bridge parts, log homes, and large commercial buildings. It is one of the best timber for most heavy structural works such as glulam beams and roof trusses.


This type of timber is one of the best timber for furniture making, it is a hardwood timber from the family tree of Betulaceae, which includes alders and hazels. It has thin leaves with more than 50 different species of which eleven of these species are on the Green List of Threatened Species, some of which include the Megrelian birch of Georgia, Michigan in the United States, and the Murray birch of Ontario in Canada. Birch is a durable hardwood timber that grows abundantly also in North America and is very strong.

Though birch wood is a light wood, it is very strong and durable when compared to some other types of timber, which can be used to create very strong plywood for furniture making.

Because of its cream to light reddish-brown with a fine grain beautiful appearance and blond color makes it a great wood type for modern furniture. Timber from birch wood is clean-line grain and extremely elegant which complements the simplistic interior design of any kind.


Elm timber usually has a very prominent interlocking wood grain with an uneven and coarse texture. The interlocking grain features with unique swirls and waves make it stand out among other types of timbers for wood furniture.

Elm timber has a typical Janka Hardness rating of over 800 even though it is classified as a soft hardwood, which means it is tough and quite durable, but it is softer compared to other hardwoods.  The interlocked grain nature of elm timber adds to its toughness and makes it highly resistant to splitting. It is highly durable and shock-resistant.  These elm properties make it a good furniture material most especially for furniture parts that absorb shock, and even though it is hard and tough it bends easily under steam and then holds its shape well, making it great for supportive furniture parts like frames, backs, seats, and legs that need to be structurally strong and stable.


Maple is one of the hardest timber types for furniture, itis a very popular hardwood for many wood products, including furniture. The grain is typically smooth and straight, giving every one of its finished pieces a simple, clean, and great look. Though other more textured grains can be found in tiger and curly maple. Sapwood is found on the outer portion of maple timber and is mostly light and creamy in color. Because of its lightness, it can be stained in many different colors even a dark stain that could look so much like cherry and mahogany.

Due to its versatility and ultra-durability,  maple is commonly used in a wide range of applications such as solid wood furniture, cabinets, and hardwood floors.  Maple is more affordable compared to other types of hardwood timbers and combined with its durability, it is a great idea for many young families when it comes to the choice of furniture.


Oak is a typical traditional carving timber often known as the king of English trees, oak is also hardwood. Because of its slow growth, it is very strong, extremely dense, durable, and resistant to fungal attacks, which makes it less prone to decay and rot. Oak timber is considered one of the best and sturdiest materials to work within wood furniture. Due to its flexibility,  it is a desirable artistic piece for complex architectural projects.

Most oak timbers come from the eastern and central United States. The majority of American wooden antiques are constructed of oak wood. Oak furniture with proper care can last centuries. Oak timber is light brown and pinkish-red with a striped grain or swirling. Furniture made from Oak timber is highly resistant to scratch and stain when properly finished.


Pines are some of the most commercially important wood species valued for their furniture works throughout the world. In most tropical and temperate regions, they grow very fast in relatively dense stands, due to their acidic decaying needles, they inhibit the sprouting of competing hardwoods. Pine timbers are popular for their rustic and farmhouse design in furniture. They are lightweight wood, making them great for users that move frequently. Pines are cheap and affordable wood and are great options for those who are not ready for the investment of other wood types. Pine timbers paint well and painted pine furniture is often used for most kids’ rooms because of the great fun colors it offers.

Pine timbers come in several varieties such as Radiata, Cypress, and Hoop pine. Radiata pine has a very low resistance to decay and termites attack unless chemically treated, even though is a very common house-framing timber. Cypress pine timber is resistant to termite and is a highly prized timber for furniture which makes it a popular flooring material in Australia for many decades, and Hoop pine is used mainly for plywood.


Teak is a type of hardwood that is sourced from the Tectona grandis tree, commonly found in south and southeast Asia. Teak timber is usually referred to as the timber king which makes it a perfect timber for many outdoor furniture because of its water resistance, durability, and beauty. Teak wood is originally golden in color and has a very smooth grain and texture.  Teak timber is durable, strong, and virtually impervious to any weather condition, and is rich in rubber, and natural oils.  Slow-grown teak is mostly the best timber for some furniture due to its high resistance to sun and rain, but teak wood furniture is very expensive.


Walnut is a hard, strong, and durable timber for furniture. It carves really well and holds its shape for a  long time. This makes it a perfect choice for any ornate furniture that requires a very high level of craftsmanship. This type of timber is perfect and ideal for investment pieces and furniture you want to keep with you for generations.

Walnut trees grow from Vermont to the Great Plains through Louisiana and in most parts of North America and Texas. Walnut is white to dark brown in color, and it is commonly known for its large burls. The different types of walnut timbers are black walnut, Brazilian walnut, North American walnut, and Caribbean walnut. Its grain is straight with some waves around the roots. Timbers from walnut are the best types of timber for furniture that is ornate and requires a lot of details.


Bamboo is known for its environmentally friendly nature and its natural fine blond color. This type of wood is actually a grass, rather than hardwood. For this reason, bamboo grows rapidly and it grows more than 10-times faster than average hardwoods do. Bamboo also resists swelling and shrinking when properly treated making it a good type of timber for furniture.

Bamboo grows virtually on all the continents except Europe and Antarctica. The color varies from very light to a warm medium tone, but naturally, it boasts a soft blonde color. Bamboo furniture is versatile for design but is most common in today’s interior design. Bamboo wood is the best timber for environmentally-friendly furniture designs.