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By Joshua Wills

Different furniture woods have different distinctive marks and characteristics by which they can be identified.


Teak, a very expensive hardwood, varies from rich golden-brown to dark brown and usually has characteristic light and dark streaks. It has traditionally been used for solid pieces as well as for veneers.

Mahogany (African mahogany, New World mahogany)

One of the most valued furniture woods in the world, Mahogany is very expensive and used exclusively for fine furniture and in veneers. Mahogany has a very distinctive and attractive grain and the color varies from medium brown to deep red-brown and dark red.

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A hardwood with excellent bending qualities, Elm can be used in all kinds of furniture and is especially favored for constructing bentwood furniture. Elm has a distinct grain and is typically light to dark brown in color. Sometimes there is a presence of red streaks.

Walnut (black walnut, European walnut)

A warm chocolate brown color, sometimes with purplish or dark colored streaks, and a striking, attractive grain; Walnut is a very expensive wood and is generally used for making fine, high-quality furniture.

Rosewood (Indian, Brazilian or Ceylonese rosewood)

A very expensive hardwood, Rosewood is difficult to work with hand tools and is typically used for veneers. The color is typically a rich dark brown to dark purple, with the presence of strongly marked black streaks.

Pine (white pine)

Varying in color from cream to yellow-brown with clearly marked growth rings, Pine is an inexpensive wood and is used in almost all kinds of furniture. It is one of the primary woods of modern furniture, especially furniture that is unfinished and requires to be assembled.

Cherry (black cherry)

Cherry varies in color from light brown to dark reddish brown. It has a distinctive and attractive grain that often features a definite mottle. This close-grained wood does not require filler, but a light stain is often used to accentuate the rich color. Cherry is an expensive hardwood and is difficult to work with hand tools.

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