Do you know your wood? Knowing the different characteristics of wood is very helpful information to have if you are purchasing or repairing wood items. I did a poll with some of my friends and I asked them “How do you identify what type of wood something is made of?” The general consensus was by color. Identifying wood by it’s color is very unreliable since it’s probably been stained. When you think of mahogany most people think of a darker color. If you look at an unfinished piece of mahogany you would see that it’s not a dark wood. To make identification easier let’s take a look at the different characteristics of wood used in furniture making.
Color: Sapwood is nearly white in color and the heartwood varies between pale yellow and to light brown.
Grain: Straight and moderately open. It appears to have sweeping waves and the texture is uniform.
Function: Chairs, stools, kitchen cabinets, flooring, doors, paneling, and sporting goods (ex. baseball bats).
Features: Takes stains and finishes well. Absorbs shock. Ability to steam and bend into curved shapes.
Color: Cream or light brown tinged with red. Thin nearly white sapwood.
Grain: Closed, straight grained, fine texture.
Function: Furniture, carving, whittling, kitchen utensils, cutting boards, musical instruments, spindles, balusters, banisters, baseboards.
Features: Takes stains and finishes well. Hard wood. Absorbs shock.
Color: The heartwood is pinkish to reddish brown and the sapwood is cream to yellowish in color. Colors darken with age.
Grain: Straight, fine grain and a smooth texture. Pin knots.
Function: Fine furniture, engravers blocks, cabinets, flooring.
Features: Hard wood. Strong scent.
Color: The heartwood is pinkish yellow to reddish brown and the sapwood is the same colors only lighter.
Grain: Fine grain and even texture.
Function: Roofs, doors, windows, furniture, boats.
Features: Prone to splitting. Takes stains and finishes well.
Color: Light pink to a rich, reddish brown.
Grain: Straight to a wavy, curly pattern. Fine to medium texture
Function: Furniture, boats, accessories,
Features: Strong, robust wood.
Color: Cream to light reddish brown heartwood. Thin white sapwood with a tinge of reddish brown.
Grain: Straight grained. Fine texture.
Function: Furniture, interiors, flooring, cutting boards.
Features: Strong and durable.
Color: Light brown with a grayish tinge in the heartwood and shades of ochre in the sapwood.
Grain: Coarser, open, leafy, combing grain.
Function: Furniture, trim, doors, flooring, cabinets,
Features: Strong and durable.
Color: Light gray brown to a dark purplish brown.
Grain: Fine grain.
Function: Furniture, gun stocks, instruments, trim, flooring.
Features: Dense, durable hardwood.
Color: Deep brown.
Grain: Slightly striped
Function: Furniture, handles, instruments, billiard cues, cabinets, tools, flooring, chess pieces
Features: Extremely hard and dense. Rose scented when cut. Retains luster.
Color: Heartwood is yellow brown to dark golden brown. Sapwood is grayish or white.
Grain: Close, fine grained.
Function: Carving, outdoor furniture, boats,
Features: Durable. Contains natural oils which protect it from water and weather. Resistant to termites. Shock resistance.