Different Types Of Wood For Furniture Woodworking In Stacks Of Lumber

Types of Wood for Woodworking

By Joshua Farnsworth

Understanding different types of wood is really important for woodworker and furniture makers. It is unreasonable for woodworkers to learn every type of wood as there are hundreds of wood species, so below I have listed some of the most common types of wood lumber species that woodworkers use for making furniture and woodworking hand tools. Keep in mind that there are quite a few variations of different types of wood (e.g. hard maple vs. soft maple or Black Walnut vs. English Walnut) so I’m just listing the basic names:

Types Of Wood Shavings With Hand Planer In Rear

Common Types of Wood: Hardwoods

  • Alder
  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Butternut
  • Cherry
  • Chestnut
  • Cypress
  • Hickory
  • Holly
  • Mahogany
  • Maple
  • Red Oak
  • White Oak
  • Poplar
  • Purpleheart
  • Sapele
  • Teak
  • Walnut

Common Types of Wood: Softwoods

  • Cedar
  • Eastern White Pine
  • Fir
  • Redwood
  • Spruce
  • Southern Yellow Pine

What is the Best Wood for Woodworking?

As a furniture maker, some of my most favorite types of wood to work with (especially when woodworking hand tools) are black walnut, quartersawn white oak, cherry, beech, poplar, eastern white pine, and southern yellow pine. I use a lot of Southern Yellow pine because you can get it at most hardware stores as construction lumber, and if the boards are 10-12 inches wide, you can cut out the center and use the quartersawn pieces on the edges (see my other page for more details). Different types of wood are good for different purposes when building furniture, so it’s important to research what is the best wood for furniture projects that you’re building. For example, when building a chest of drawers, a primary (expensive) hardwood like cherry or white oak would be great for the exterior and visible parts and pine or poplar would work well for interior parts that most people won’t see often.

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Free Resources to help you understand lumber for woodworking:

You can read my popular article: “Learn How to Choose Stable, Strong & Beautiful Wood

Here is an excellent resource, with photos, of different types of wood: The Wood Database.

Janka Wood Hardness Test Chart

Below you will see a list of most of the different types of wood on a Janka hardness test chart. The Janka hardness test measures the force (pounds-force is abbreviated “lbf) required to push a small steel ball halfway into a piece of wood. Most of the types of wood below lead to a Wikipedia article that will teach you more about each type of type of wood:

Force Species
5,060 lbf Australian Buloke
4,800 lbf Schinopsis brasiliensis, Quebracho, Barauna, Chamacoco
4,570 lbf Schinopsis balansae, Quebracho Colorado, Red Quebracho
4,500 lbf Lignum vitae, Guayacan, Pockenholz
3,840 lbf Piptadenia Macrocarpa, Curupay, Angico Preto, Brazilian Tiger Mahogany
3,800 lbf Snakewood, Letterhout, Piratinera Guinensis
3,700 lbf Brazilian Olivewood
3,692 lbf Brazilian Ebony
3,684 lbf Ipê, Brazilian Walnut, Lapacho
3,680 lbf African Pearwood, Moabi
3,664 lbf Grey Ironbark
3,650 lbf Bolivian Cherry
3,640 lbf Lapacho
3,540 lbf Cumaru, Brazilian Teak
3,417 lbf Sucupira, Brazilian Chestnut, Tiete Chestnut
3,260 lbf Ironwood
3,220 lbf Ebony
3,190 lbf Massaranduba, Brazilian Redwood, Paraju
3,040 lbf Yvyraro
3,000 lbf Strand Woven Bamboo
2,960 lbf Cocobolo
2,900 lbf Bloodwood
2,697 lbf Red Mahogany, Turpentine
2,680 lbf Live Oak
2,670 lbf Southern Chestnut
2,473 lbf Spotted Gum
2,350 lbf Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba
2,345 lbf Mesquite
2,330 lbf Golden Teak
2,240 lbf Guatambú, Kyrandy, Balfourodendron riedelianum
2,200 lbf Santos Mahogany, Bocote, Cabreuva, Honduran Rosewood
2,170 lbf Pradoo
2,160 lbf Brazilian Koa
2,135 lbf Brushbox
2,040 lbf Osage Orange
2,030 lbf Karri
2,023 lbf Sydney Blue Gum
1,980 lbf Bubinga
1,940 lbf Cameron
1,933 lbf Tallowwood
1,925 lbf Merbau
1,912 lbf Amendoim
1,910 lbf Jarrah
1,860 lbf Purpleheart
1,850 lbf Goncalo Alves, Tigerwood
1,820 lbf Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood
1,810 lbf Afzelia, Doussie, Australian Wormy Chestnut
1,798 lbf Bangkirai
1,780 lbf Rosewood
1,725 lbf African Padauk
1,720 lbf Blackwood
1,712 lbf Merbau
1,710 lbf Kempas
1,700 lbf Black Locust
1,686 lbf Highland Beech
1,680 lbf Red Mulberry
1,630 lbf Wenge, Red Pine, Hornbeam
1,624 lbf Tualang
1,575 lbf Zebrawood
1,570 lbf True Pine, Timborana
1,557 lbf Peroba
1,510 lbf Sapele, Sapelli, Kupa’y
1,490 lbf Curupixa
1,470 lbf Sweet Birch
1,450 lbf Hard maple, Sugar Maple
1,390 lbf Caribbean Walnut
1,390 lbf Kentucky coffeetree
1,380 lbf Natural Bamboo (represents one species)
1,375 lbf Australian Cypress
1,360 lbf White Oak
1,350 lbf Tasmanian oak
1,349 lbf Ribbon Gum
1,320 lbf Ash (White)
1,300 lbf American Beech
1,290 lbf Red Oak (Northern)
1,280 lbf Caribbean Heart Pine
1,260 lbf Yellow Birch, Iroko
1,230 lbf Movingui
1,225 lbf Heart pine
1,220 lbf Carapa guianensis, Brazilian Mesquite
1,200 lbf Larch
1,180 lbf Carbonized Bamboo (represents one species)
1,155 lbf Teak
1,125 lbf Brazilian Eucalyptus, Rose Gum
1,120 lbf English Oak
1,100 lbf Makore
1,100 lbf Siberian Larch
1,080 lbf Peruvian Walnut
1,023 lbf Boreal
1,010 lbf Black Walnut, North American Walnut
995 lbf Cherry
950 lbf Black Cherry, Imbuia
950 lbf Red Maple
940 lbf Boire
910 lbf Paper Birch
900 lbf Eastern Red Cedar
870 lbf Southern Yellow Pine (Longleaf)
840 lbf Lacewood, Leopardwood
830 lbf African Mahogany
800 lbf Mahogany, Honduran Mahogany
780 lbf Parana
770 lbf Sycamore
720 lbf Box Elder
710 lbf Shedua
710 lbf Radiata Pine
700 lbf Silver Maple
690 lbf Southern Yellow Pine (Loblolly and Shortleaf)
660 lbf Douglas Fir
626 lbf Western Juniper
590 lbf Alder (Red)
590 lbf Larch
540 lbf Chestnut
500 lbf Hemlock
420 lbf Western White Pine
410 lbf Basswood
380 lbf Eastern White Pine
75 lbf Cuipo
70 lbf Balsa