Oak wood grain

About Wood Species

August 19, 2015

Wood is wood, right? 

Well yes, but not all species of wood used in furniture has the same properties. Many people ask, "which wood is best for me?" or "what difference does it make which wood I choose?"

What follows is a short primer on some commonly used wood species in furniture and short explanations of their properties.



We begin with the 'gold standard' of furniture woods. Just the name implies strength and durability. Most of our oak furniture is made with North American Red Oak. The picture above is an example of it's appearance. Its natural color is pale with darker coarse grain, but it takes stain beautifully and can be a variety of colors. White Oak is another commonly used species for furniture, often quarter sawn.



Maple has a finer grain than oak and subsequently can be sanded to a smoother finish. Most of our maple furniture is made with Big Leaf Western Maple. The Riviera Collection from Wood Castle is made with Big Leaf Maple that is sustainably harvested from a forest right here in Oregon! Eastern Maple is sometimes also used in furniture, its color tends to be paler than Big Leaf Maple, and is most often seen with a natural finish because it is difficult to stain evenly.


Cherry (Black Cherry) is one of the more highly sought after woods for making furniture and cabinetry.  It has fine grain with beautiful dark figuring and a rich reddish brown color that can be iridescent in the right lighting. It takes stain evenly, but is often featured in a natural finish to highlight the beauty inherent in the wood.  Much antique cherry furniture is stained in a deep red-wine color.