What Wood Species Should I Go With?

Wood Species

The hardwoods that we use in our furniture have all been harvested in the heart of our country; specifically in Ohio, Indiana or Pennsylvania. Due to our variation in climate, we are able to grow many species and variations of these trees. We often use the Janka Hardness Test to determine which wood should be used for an application. The Janka Hardness Test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. To determine qualities and characteristics of a hardwood species for your furniture, please see below:


Red Oak: The sapwood (wood closest to the edge of the log) of Red Oak is white to light brown and the heartwood (wood closest to the center of the log) is a pinkish/reddish-brown. The wood is similar in general appearance to white oak, but with a slightly less-pronounced figure due to the smaller rays. The wood is mostly straight-grained, with a coarse texture. Red Oak is hard and heavy, with a medium bending strength and stiffness and high crushing strength. Janka Hardness Test: 1290 lbs. 


Cherry & Rustic Cherry: The heartwood of Cherry varies from rich red to reddish-brown and will darken with age and on exposure to light. In contrast, the sapwood is creamy white. The wood has a straight-grain, a fine, uniform, satiny and smooth texture, and naturally may contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets. Rustic Cherry means knots and other original rustic aspects of the wood are kept to create a completely natural look in the furniture. Janka Hardness Test: 950 lbs.  


Brown Maple: Brown Maple, although softer than Hard Maple, is still considered a hardwood and is often compared to the hardness and smooth grain of Cherry, though much more affordable in price. Brown Maple has a straight grain but the color can vary immensely.  The smooth grain of Brown Maple makes it an ideal choice for paint or dark stain. In it's natural finish, Brown Maple can sometimes appear to have a greenish tone and therefore is not recommended with a clear or natural finish. Janka Hardness Test: 950 lbs.

Red Elm: Red Elm has a grayish-white to light brown narrow sapwood, with heartwood that is reddish brown to dark brown in color. The grain can be straight, but is often interlocked, and has a coarse texture. Elm is moderately heavy, hard and stiff with excellent bending and shock resistance. It is difficult to split because of its interlocked grain. Janka Hardness Test: 830.


Hickory: The sapwood of Hickory is white, tinged with brown, while the heartwood is pale to reddish-brown. Hickories are well known for their very good strength and shock resistance, as well as excellent steam bending properties. Janka Hardness Test: 1820 lbs. 



Black Walnut: The sapwood of Walnut is creamy white, while the heartwood is light brown to dark chocolate brown, occasionally with a purplish cast and darker streaks. It is usually supplied steamed, to darken the sapwood. The wood is generally straight-grained; sometimes with wavy or curly grain that produces an attractive and decorative figure. Walnut is a tough hardwood of medium density, with moderate bending and crushing strengths, and low stiffness. Janka Hardness Test: 1010 lbs. 



Quarter-Sawn White Oak (QSWO) and Rustic QSWO: Quarter-sawn lumber is produced by cutting the log into 4 quarters, then slicing perpendicular to the growth rings, showing parallel grain lines and characteristic flakes of the grain.  White Oak is by far the most popular species to be quarter sawn. The sapwood of white oak is light colored and the heartwood is light to dark brown. White Oak is mostly straight-grained with a medium-to-coarse texture. Having longer rays than Red Oak, White Oak has more figure. White Oak is a hard and heavy wood with a medium bending and crushing strength, and low in stiffness. It has great wear resistance. Rustic QSWO means knots and other original rustic aspects of the wood are kept to create a completely natural look in the finished product. Janka Hardness Scale: 1360 lbs.

Source: 2017 Hardwood Manufacturers Association

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