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When it comes to custom furniture, choosing the right wood species is crucial. Each type of wood has unique characteristics that affect the appearance, durability, and functionality of your furniture. At Old Saguaro, we use only the finest woods to create beautiful, long-lasting pieces. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you select the perfect wood for your custom furniture.

Understanding Wood Types | Hardwood vs. Softwood

Hardwoods come from deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves annually) and are known for their density and durability. Examples include oak, walnut, and cherry. Hardwoods are generally more expensive and harder to work with than softwoods but are valued for their strength and longevity. They are ideal for pieces that will see a lot of use, such as dining tables, chairs, and cabinets (really any furniture).

Softwoods come from coniferous trees (trees that remain evergreen) and are generally lighter and less dense than hardwoods. Examples include pine and cedar. Softwoods are easier to work with and are typically less expensive. They are often used for pieces that require less structural strength or for decorative elements.

Hardwoods are typically preferred for furniture making due to their strength and longevity, although some softwoods can also be used for certain types of furniture. The choice between hardwood and softwood will depend on the specific requirements of the piece you are creating and your budget.

Popular Wood Choices for Furniture


  • Characteristics: Rich, dark brown color with a interesting grain patterns. Known for its strength and stability.
  • Best For: High-end furniture pieces like desks, dining tables, and cabinetry.
  • Pros: Beautiful finish, durable, and ages well.
  • Cons: Can be more expensive than other woods.

Walnut is a favorite for its deep, rich color and grain that can vary from straight to wavy. It is a versatile wood that works well for a variety of furniture pieces, including intricate carvings and modern designs. Its durability makes it a good choice for items that will see a lot of use. A great example of a piece made in walnut is our Ansley Ottoman Table, check it out here


  • Characteristics: Reddish-brown color that darkens with age, fine grain, smooth texture.
  • Best For: Cabinets, chairs, and tables.
  • Pros: Warm, rich color, easy to work with, finishes beautifully.
  • Cons: Can be prone to dents and scratches.

Cherry wood is prized for its smooth texture and fine grain. It darkens over time, developing a beautiful patina. This makes it ideal for pieces where appearance is a significant factor. It’s also relatively easy to work with, making it a good choice for detailed work. Check out our knife blocks to see some pieces made in cherry


  • Characteristics: Light to medium brown color with a prominent grain pattern. Available in red and white varieties.
  • Best For: Flooring, cabinetry, and traditional furniture styles.
  • Pros: Strong, durable, widely available.
  • Cons: Can be heavy and sometimes challenging to work with due to its density.

Oak is one of the most popular woods for furniture due to its strength and workability. It’s available in both red and white varieties, each with its unique characteristics. Red oak has a reddish hue and a more pronounced grain pattern, while white oak is more resistant to water and has a more subdued grain. A great example of a piece made in white oak is our Lasko Writing Desk, check it out here.


  • Characteristics: Light, creamy color with a fine, even grain. Hard and dense.
  • Best For: Cutting boards, butcher blocks, and contemporary furniture.
  • Pros: Extremely durable, takes stains well.
  • Cons: Can be difficult to stain evenly due to its density.

Maple is known for its light color and smooth grain, making it a popular choice for contemporary and minimalist designs. It’s also incredibly durable, making it suitable for items that will see heavy use, such as cutting boards and butcher blocks. Its density can make it challenging to stain evenly, so it’s often left natural or lightly finished.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood

1. Aesthetics

Grain Pattern: The grain pattern can add a unique look to your furniture. Some woods have prominent grains, while others are more subtle. For example, oak has a very pronounced grain pattern that can add texture and visual interest to a piece, while maple has a smoother, more uniform appearance.
Color: Consider how the wood’s color will complement your existing decor. Remember that some woods change color over time. Cherry, for instance, darkens as it ages, developing a rich, deep hue. Walnut’s dark brown color can complement a variety of color schemes, from traditional to modern.
Finish: The type of finish you plan to use can also influence your choice of wood. Some woods take stains and finishes better than others. Maple, for example, can be tricky to stain evenly due to its density, while walnut and cherry often look best with a natural or lightly tinted finish. We don't typically stain our pieces and choose to use hard-wax oil finishes that highlight the natural beauty in wood. 

2. Durability

For pieces that will experience heavy use, such as dining tables or desks, choose a harder wood like oak or walnut. These woods are more resistant to scratches, dents, and other wear and tear. Softer woods, like pine, can be used for decorative pieces or items that won’t see as much wear and tear.

3. Workability

Some woods are easier to work with than others. If you’re looking for intricate designs or carvings, consider woods like cherry or walnut. These woods are easier to shape and carve, making them ideal for detailed work. Harder woods, like oak, can be more challenging to work with but are still a good choice for simpler designs that require strength and durability.

4. Cost

Budget can also influence your choice. While hardwoods tend to be more expensive, they offer superior durability and longevity. Softwoods are generally less expensive and can be a good choice for decorative elements or less heavily used pieces. It’s important to balance cost with the needs of the piece you’re creating.

5. Sustainability

Sustainability is an important consideration for many people today. At Old Saguaro, we are committed to using sustainably sourced wood. This means that our materials are harvested in a way that preserves forests and ensures a continuous supply of wood for future generations. We believe that sustainability and quality go hand in hand.

Sustainable Sourcing

At Old Saguaro, we are committed to sustainability. We source our wood responsibly, ensuring that our materials are harvested in an environmentally friendly manner. This not only helps preserve forests but also ensures that our furniture is of the highest quality. We work with suppliers who follow sustainable forestry practices, and we use every part of the wood to minimize waste.

Sustainable wood sourcing means that the forests are managed in a way that allows them to regenerate and continue to provide wood for future generations. This involves selective logging, replanting, and maintaining biodiversity. By choosing sustainably sourced wood, you are supporting these practices and contributing to the health of our planet.


Choosing the right wood for your custom furniture is a crucial step in the design process. By understanding the characteristics of different woods and considering factors like aesthetics, durability, workability, cost, and sustainability, you can select the perfect material for your next project. Whether you prefer the rich, dark tones of walnut or the light, clean look of maple, Old Saguaro is here to help you create beautiful, bespoke furniture that will last a lifetime.

Custom furniture is an investment, and the choice of wood is one of the most important decisions you will make. The right wood can enhance the beauty and functionality of your furniture, ensuring that it will be enjoyed for generations to come. At Old Saguaro, we are passionate about creating high-quality, handcrafted furniture that reflects your unique style and meets your specific needs.

For more information or to start your custom furniture project, contact us today! Our team of skilled artisans is ready to help you bring your vision to life. Visit our workshop, browse our selection of woods, and let us guide you through the process of creating a one-of-a-kind piece that you will treasure for years to come.

By addressing common questions and highlighting your commitment to quality and sustainability, you can build trust and encourage engagement with your brand. Whether you are looking for a statement piece for your home or a functional item for everyday use, Old Saguaro has the expertise and passion to create something truly special.

Additional Resources

For those interested in learning more about wood types and their uses, here are some additional resources:

  • Wood Database: An extensive resource with detailed information on a wide variety of wood species.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): An organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.
  • American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC): Provides information on American hardwoods and their sustainable management.

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