Wood makes up a large portion of construction for a variety of furniture. Wood is offered in different types with varying grains, finishes and colors that make it very customizable. From entirely wood tables to partial wood and metal framed beds, wood is both fashionable and functional. Here are a few helpful resources to assist you in finding wood furnishings that are perfect for you and your home.
How Wood Is Used in Various Furniture Styles
Traditional Style uses deeply carved, thick wood, that is often stained dark, with elaborate hand-carved scrolls and ball or claw feet.
Transitional Style is characterized by combining traditional and contemporary styles. Durable wood is often used and combined with other materials such as metal or glass to create a unique look.
Contemporary Style incorporates a variety of different stained woods that are often lighter in color, in sleek and sanded straight grains.
Rustic Style uses natural woods to bring outdoor elements indoors, displaying the natural beauty of the wood grain.
Coastal Style is known for lightly stained and natural woods. Driftwood is often used in furniture and accessories to create a seaside ambiance.
Types of Wood
Ash is a solid hardwood which is also somewhat flexible. It is most commonly used for chairs and curved backrests because of its pliability. It is a light brown color with straight grain.
Beech is solid, sturdy and dense wood. The texture is fine grain with a light color surface.
Hickory is known for its range of light to dark colors. The sapwood is a milky white and its heartwood is a red, pink or reddish-brown color sometimes referred to as red hickory. It is a harder wood than oak.
Mahogany is an exquisite hardwood and the color ranges from brown to a deep reddish-brown, depending on its age which adds real interest to its appeal. It is a very traditional, versatile and popular type of wood.
Maple is durable and moisture resistant. The color is usually pale with natural spirals and twists in the grain.
Oak is a popular wood due to its durability and it has a grain that is unique and linear. There are two types of oak; white oak, which is grey/brown in color and red oak which is similar but with a pronounced red tint.
Pine is an affordable and lightweight option. It has a pale finish which is great for staining. Pine is not as durable compared to maple or oak but has nice pliability.
Walnut is a hardwood and is known for its strength and durability. It is a versatile wood that comes in a variety of shades and grains to complement your home décor.
Wood Furniture Terminology
Acanthus is a type of leaf carving into wood which has been used for centuries. The leaves have a curved shape with embellished ruffled edges making it very decorative and ornate.
Ball & Claw is a type of carving used as the foot of a chair, table or chest. The name origin is obvious because it simply resembles a sphere object being grasped by a bird’s claw or talon. The idea of this carving comes from Chinese mythology of a dragon’s talon gripping a pearl.
Beveled Edge slopes from thick to thin and is often used as a shape for the edge of a mirror. It is an angular design that adds a three-dimensional element to normally flat-looking reliefs.
Bun Foot is a simple, circular-shaped carved foot. It looks like a ball which has been flattened so that it looks like a bun.
Chest-on-Chest is just like it sounds. It has two chest pieces placed on top of one another.
Dovetails are a popular type of furniture joinery where triangular shaped edges fit together in an interlocking pattern so there is no need for screws or nails.
Ebony is a dense wood with jet-black coloration that is often used as a slim line in veneer or marquetry patterns.
Grain is the pattern of wood fibers in a piece of wood. Some grains are straight, and fibers stand close together while others are circular, curved, wavy or a variety of other shapes.
Hardwoods are woods that come from deciduous trees. These are trees that lose their leaves once a year. Hardwoods include hickory, oak, maple, cherry and sycamore.
Kiln is a process where lumber is dried in a large (often room-sized) oven to remove the moisture in freshly cut wood. The drying process balances the wood, so that it becomes ready for manufacturing and finishing.
Lotus is a well-known ornamental flower with large, curved petals used as inspiration for carving. It has many historical contexts based in tradition and religions in the Middle East as well as Asia.
Marquetry is contrasting types of veneer which compose a picture or embellishment with straight and curved lines. Intricate carvings of flowers, shells and curved shapes are examples of marquetry.
Mitered is simply a 45-degree angle cut in two straight pieces of wood which form a right angle as they join. Usually used in mirrors and picture frames.
Moldings are decorative strips of wood, sometimes carved, that frame doors, drawers, tops, sides and fronts of some case pieces.
Pocket Doors are often used in entertainment centers and chests. These outer doors fold and slide back into the cabinet which hides them away from view.
Relief Carving is a detailed carving in solid wood. The background of the carving is removed leaving a raised design.
Slipper Foot is a shaped foot on a bed, table or case goods piece that resembles the curved, pointed toe of a lady’s shoe, and sole.
Soft Woods is a term used for wood from evergreen trees including pine, fir, and cedar.
Turning is when a piece of wood is shaped by rotating it while cutting away the edges with sharp blades. This allows the pattern to have a three-dimensional shape. They are typically used for bed posters, legs of chests, spindles of chairs and other pieces that require a rounded shape.
Veneer is a thin slice of wood. Usually, it is made for decoration because of the flat grain pattern which faces outward as a surface.