Choosing the Best Wood for Your Furniture

Custom Built - American Made - Forever Furniture

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Every piece of furniture we sell is made with skill and attention to detail.

You will only find solid wood furniture in our store. We use woods of the highest quality to ensure your new furniture will last a lifetime (and beyond). 

All of our furniture is custom-built in the US using solid milled hardwoods. It’s important for you to be informed of the different types and characteristics of the woods we offer. Here’s a quick FAQ, as well as a guide on how to choose the right wood for your next piece.

How much time do you have? There are a ton of reasons to choose solid wood over manufactured or engineered woods. Solid wood is milled directly from trees, unlike engineered woods which include plywood, particleboard, and veneers. Solid wood furniture is more durable, looks nicer, and ages better than any other option. Are you paying more? Yes. Will it hold up better, look nicer, and age more gracefully? Undoubtedly.  

In a short answer: no. Many furniture manufacturers, including do-it-yourself kits, use a combination of plywood or veneer to give furniture the false impression of being solid wood. It’s not! 

Veneer is a covering made of very thin wood, usually, only a couple millimeters in thickness. It is used to cover the surface of an object. It is easily stained and painted, and it can be made to look very similar to solid wood furniture. 

Plywood, on the other hand, is made by gluing numerous strips of thin wood together. While plywood is more stable than veneer, it is not considered solid wood.

Veneer and plywood are typically used on the backs and sides of furniture. This allows the main parts of the furniture, such as the front and top, to be solid wood. While this type of furniture may initially appear to be completely solid wood, a large portion is not. This can often lead to peeling or tearing -- not a great look for your new furniture. That’s why we only use solid hardwood for our furniture. 

Most of the hardwoods we use to make our furniture are Ohio Appalachian Hardwoods. That’s because we believe in supporting responsible forestry management. The trees used for our furniture are sustainably managed. By buying solid wood furniture you are supporting an industry that is vital to the US economy. 

According to the U.S. Forest Service, hardwoods are a renewable resource “growing at 2.38 times the rate of harvest.” According to The Hardwood Federation, “the domestic hardwood products industry in the U.S. directly supports more than 685,000 jobs in 25,000 facilities generating $136 billion in annual income, and related industries tied to the supply chain support an additional 1.1 million jobs and add $212 billion to the economy. For every $1 million in the output of hardwood products, 5.3 jobs are created.” Our solid wood furniture is an American product supporting the American economy.

Yes, we believe in environmental stewardship. All of our wood comes from sustainably managed forests here in America. Today, we are happy to report that the US grows more wood than it harvests. When you buy a piece of our furniture, you can be confident the wood was harvested responsibly. American hardwood furniture offers quality, durability, strength, and natural beauty. In addition, this furniture is built to last for generations. This helps to keep furniture out of landfills. 

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Types of Wood

Maples

At the Amish Craftsman, we offer two species of maple – brown maple and hard maple. Each one has its own unique texture, color, and characteristics. Here’s a breakdown of both.

Hard Maple

Hard maple is also known as sugar maple. It is easily recognizable as a creamy white hardwood. A straight-grained wood with a fine texture, hard maple’s natural light color makes it a favorite for light finishes. The wood is hard and heavy with good strength properties. In particular, it has a high resistance to abrasion and wear. Our favorite stains on hard maple are natural, umber, and bungalow

Brown Maple Wood with Almond Stain

Brown Maple

Brown maple is a little bit softer than hard maple and offers a slightly darker natural color. Brown maple is very similar to hard maple in most respects, but there are a few other key differences. Generally, the sapwood is greyish-white, sometimes with darker colored pith flecks that give it an interesting variation in color. The heartwood varies from light-to-dark reddish brown. This wood is usually straight-grained. Brown maple is often less expensive than hard maple. Our favorite stains on brown maple are chestnut, bungalow, and goshen.

Oaks

Oaks have been used for centuries in furniture making. Its availability, its heartiness, and its many applications have ensured its popularity both in the US and abroad. The Amish Craftsman offers two different types of this wood: red oak and white oak. 

Red Oak

The color of the red oak is…well, reddish. Makes sense, right? The true tones of red oak often vary -- from a light brown to a pinkish red-brown. This allows it to take a stain easily and beautifully. Red oak has natural straight lines, warm coloring, and a classical coarse texture. It often includes lots of unique swirls and grain patterns. Red oaks grow more abundantly than white oaks which means that red oak is less expensive to use than white oak. Our favorite stains on red oak are mica, chestnut, and java.

Red Oak Wood with Mica Stain

White Oak

White oak is one of our favorite woods, as well as one of our most popular. Like the red oak variety, white oak is also an extremely strong and hard wood. White oak is unique for its distinctive open grain and coarse texture. All of our white oak is quartersawn, giving it a different grain texture than what you’ll typically find in other hardwood furniture. Often called tiger oak, this grain has an extremely unique and identifiable look.  

The quarter-sawn white oak is one of our most popular woods due to its unusual look, natural beauty, and durability. Because of its durability, this wood can be a good choice for high-use pieces. It is perhaps best known as being the hallmark wood for Mission and Arts and Crafts-style furniture. Our favorite stains for white oak are mica, truffle, and caramel.

Quartersawn White Oak Wood with Mica Stain

​​Cherry

Cherry wood is one of our most popular woods. Cherry lumber comes from fine Black Cherry trees in the Southern Appalachian area. It yields a hard, strong, and close-grained heartwood, making it highly valuable for crafting furniture. 

Interesting fact: the color of cherry changes over time – developing a beautiful deep patina as the years pass. That means your stains will become richer and darker too. Natural cherry is one of the most beautiful woods, with a depth and warmth to it that makes it wholly unique. When used with a darker stain, cherry can look very elegant and timeless. This is one of our most popular woods. Our favorite stains on cherry are natural, mica, and dark sienna.

Natural Cherry Wood

Hickory

Hickory is prized for its stark contrasts between its light and dark colors. Because of this, it enjoys widespread use in Amish-made furniture. The unique grain pattern offers a rugged and natural appearance to each piece. More than its beauty, hickory’s hardness makes it an exceptional choice for all types of furniture.

The heaviest and hardest of American hardwoods, hickory is very closely related to pecan. This is a bold choice. People either love or hate hickory – it has a lot of natural variation which is readily apparent when using light or medium stains. It is an extremely heavy and hard wood, but its grain can be very forgiving for scratches and dents. Hickory’s beauty is totally novel and can be so dramatic that there might be a fair bit of variation from light to dark even within the same board. Our favorite stains on hickory are prairie, cappuccino, and chestnut.

Hickory Wood with Caramel Stain

Walnut

Exhibiting deep, rich brown heartwood, walnut is one of our favorites when it comes to dark furniture. It features bold grains and clean lines. Walnut is considered a smoother grained wood. In addition to its strength and durability, walnut is also an excellent choice due to its rich color. Walnut’s color can range from chocolate brown to a golden yellow, depending on what part of the tree the wood was from. The wood from the center of the tree is generally darker, and trends toward chocolatey brown, while the wood from the outer portion of the tree is often much lighter. 

We often sell walnut natural because of the unparalleled beauty of the wood. It can have a fair bit of variation from light to dark even within the same board. That’s something our customers really seem to enjoy, no matter its application. Our favorite stain on walnut is natural.

Natural Walut Wood