Which wood is right for your furniture

When choosing to commission fine furniture, it’s not just about function or the space for which it is intended, substrate choice can also play a big part. With so many different types of wood, where do you start?

Which wood is right for your furniture - Ashton Bespoke
Which wood is right for your furniture - Ashton Bespoke

Solid wood favourites

There are is a great deal of choice in solid wood, so we thought we’d list out some of the most popular:

Maple – A durable hardwood that makes it an ideal choice for dining room tables or dressers.

Oak – A dense substrate known for its beautiful open grain, furniture in oak will last forever.    

Cherry – Popular because of its straight uniform grain, cherry polishes up well.

Walnut – Beautifully coloured rich substrate that carves very well so works well for ornate furniture.

Birch – Light coloured, this species with its durability and clean grain makes birch a popular choice.

Pine – Lightweight and inexpensive, pine has a rustic look that appeals for country living.

Bamboo – Popular due to its sustainability, the soft blonde colour works well for contemporary furniture.

Open grain versus closed

These are terms furniture makers are familiar with, but it’s worth discussing what this means aesthetically. Open grain wood such as oak or mahogany means that the pores are visible whereas maple or cherry are smooth and much more closed. Depending on how the wood is finished, there are techniques and coatings that can be used for open grains to leave them showing.

Engineered wood for fine furniture

There is a tendency to think of fine furniture being made in solid wood but engineered solutions finished in veneers work incredibly well.  As well as potentially generating a cost saving there are other pluses to using MDF, plywood or particle boards. Composite wood is more moisture resistant and therefore a good practical choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Once finished with a veneer or painted then aesthetically it ticks the box too.

Type of veneer

With skilful and delicate processing, clients can choose from a truly beautiful array of veneers. A veneer can give a more uniform finish and they are less prone to cracking and expanding. It can also tick the eco-friendly box as veneers stretch out the yield from a piece of wood. Some examples below:

  • Birch
  • White oak
  • Teak
  • Cherry
  • Anegre
  • Sycamore

Once you have selected your veneers you then can choose how it is cut either figured, quarter or crown cut. The type of cut impacts how the final veneer can look giving clients lots of versatility.


How clients want their furniture to look and feel on the surface is very personal. There is of course still a place for lacquered and stained finishing, but the trend of showing wood as it should be celebrating its natural beauty is showing no signs of abating into winter 2020. Add in an on-trend vase of dried flowers set against neutral walls and the overall feel is back to nature. Whichever choice clients make the result is a truly unique piece of furniture that will last a lifetime.

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