Common Hard Wood Types

Grownups work with hardwood – a common adage among woodworking enthusiasts. These wood types tend to be more pronounced in their variations, look beautiful and often cost more because the trees take much longer to reach maturity as opposed to coniferous trees. Exotic species can actually be so expensive that they are mostly preferred to accentuate existing antique furniture.

Then there are hardwood variants that are rare or protected. The Brazilian rosewood is one such hardwood that you simply cannot purchase without risking action from authorities. Best therefore to depend on hardwood that is grown in sustainable forests and sanctioned by the government.


Ash comes in a pale brown to white color and is known for its straighter grains. Even though it is quite rugged and hard, ash happens to be one of the easiest hardwoods to work with. Staining ash too is pretty easy.

You will not find ash in local home centers though. For this hardwood you have to visit large lumberyards.


Available in two variations of white and yellow, the latter happens to be a pale yellow color with reddish brown centers while the white birch will be more uniform throughout. Both variations are quite hard and easy to procure because of their relatively lower cost. The only downside to using birch is that it does not stain well and so your finished furniture will need a paint coat.


Another popular choice, cherry happens to be available year round and does well with stains, finishes, oils etc. It ages quite well and is not too hard, which is one of the reasons why it is easy to make furniture with.


Reddish brown with a relatively medium hardness, staining mahogany is simple. The only problem though is that you cannot find mahogany wood that easily.


Maple is the only hardwood with a softwood variant. Hard maple is among the hardest of hardwood whereas the soft variant is super easy to work with.


The most commonly used hardwood for furniture, it comes either as white oak or red oak. The hardness is in the middle and it is also resistant to moisture.

Then there are poplar, teak and walnut wood but for the sake of this tutorial, we limit ourselves to the most commonly used hardwood. To learn more on various hardwood types, you can read further here.