How-To Guide: Selecting your Wood Species

By Kara Harris · September 22, 2015

How-To Guide: Selecting your Wood Species

Our Guide to Characteristics of Various Wood Species

All of our Amish furniture pieces - dining room table, living room chairs, rolltop office desks and more - are handmade from American-grown hardwoods. Each tree is individually unique, much like our furniture, much like your home. Various wood species can be distinguished by individual grain and texture characteristics.

Determining the right wood species for your home or business can be difficult. In order to better understand the differences between each wood species, we offer this informational guide.

To begin, we will discuss one of the most popular hardwoods in the United States, Oak or Red Oak. Hard and highly durable,  it is commonly used in cabinetry, furniture, flooring, trim and doors. Oak features a combination of mountain peak and straight grain with large, open pores. It also absorbs our variety of light to dark stains with ease. This wood species is both beautiful and wear-resistant,  perfect for your kitchen table or dining chairs. Handcrafted Amish rolltop desks are perhaps the most popular product purchased in standard Oak. These handcrafted additions to your home or executive office provide elegant design details like raised panels and moldings, and essential features such a locking tambour door and full extension files. Solid wood roll top desks are handmade in the heart of Amish country in Oak, or your preferred American wood type. 

Quartersawn White Oak, one of the hardest domestic wood species, is achieved by cutting the wood at a 90 degree angle to the tree’s growth rings. These quarter-sawn sections reveal beautiful ray-fleck patterns. This wood species showcases close grain with dramatic light and dark variation. Quartersawn White Oak absorbs stains richly and evenly. Most of the established heirloom furniture you see today is crafted in Quartersawn White Oak. Choose to have your kitchen table handmade in this wood species so that it may be enjoyed for generations. 

Traditional Cherry features a fine texture with close grain. One of the premier hardwoods in the United States, Cherry is commonly used in fine furniture and trim. Its satin-smooth texture and circular grain pattern are ideal for your Traditional Dining Room Set. When completed, your furniture will boast a warm, even-toned finish.

Note: As Cherry wood ages, it develops a rich, reddish-brown patina. In other words, furniture crafted in Cherry will redden with exposure to light and heat.

Above: Eastwood Dining Set in Traditional Cherry with Sanibel stain.

Rustic Cherry is less refined than Traditional Cherry wood. You will find that the characteristics – natural knots, grain pattern, and color variation – are accentuated in this wood type. Variations in color include white, brown, and deep red. Perfect for your cabin retreat or country kitchen, this wood species exudes a rustic, handmade look.

Brown Maple includes a unique combination of brown, gray, tan, white, and cream streaks. A light stain selection will reveal this color variation and is typically not recommended. This wood species best absorbs medium to dark stains and is ideal for your painted finishes. Craft your modern dining set in Brown Maple with a painted finish or dark stain like Vintage Black or Venezuelan Chocolate.

Maple is considered one of the hardest domestic woods in the United States and is seen everywhere; from basketball courts to musical instruments. It features a tight, circular grain pattern with a fine texture and is only suited for light to medium stain colors. Your stain selection on Hard Maple will appear bold and bright. Choose our Au Natural or Sanibel stain on Maple to showcase its unique grain pattern.

Above: Delia Storage Bistro Table in Maple (top), Brown Maple (base), and two-tone finish. 

Hickory features contrasting red and cream grain pattern and is one of the strongest wood types we offer. Furniture crafted in this wood species showcase its earthy feel and substantial color variation (see picture). 


Above: Sanibel Dining Table shown in Hickory with Sanibel finish. 

Walnut is naturally rich brown in color and is popular among fine-furniture and cabinetry makers. The grain is fairly straight and resembles that of Cherry. Distinctive color variation is common and adds to the appeal of this popular domestic wood species.

Elm offers a distinctive and vivid grain pattern that complements nearly any style of furniture. Commonly combined with a less characteristic wood species in a two-tone finish (see our Aragon Dining Table), the Ellis Desk features Elm construction throughout.

Above: Ellis Computer Desk with Hutch in Elm with our Devonshire stain.

Tiger Maple is obtained by hand-selecting pieces of Curly Maple with the most distinctive character. Curly Maple describes a feature found in Maple and is not a seperate wood species. The characteristic ripples seen in the grain pattern vary by frequency and intensity to produce a three dimensional effect that makes the wood appear "wavy."

Above: Yorkshire Bed in combination of Burnished Honey on Tiger Maple and Venezuelan Chocolate on Brown Maple.

Make an informed decision about the solid-wood furnishings you place in your home. At Countryside, they are built to last a lifetime of use to become treasured family heirlooms. Use this guide to confidently choose the wood type that will become your handmade Amish furniture.

To get started, check out our selection of various dining tables, chairs and kitchen & dining sets.