Bassett's Guide To Quality Wood Furniture

Updated 3/16/23

Abingdon Bed

"What wood is the best for furniture?" If you're in the process of furnishing your home, you're probably well aware this question has a complex answer. The wood you should choose for your home depends on your budget and expected usage. Wood type, wood quality, and the process used to create the furniture significantly impact the price level. Read on for an overview of the different kinds of wood used for furniture making, recommendations on the best woods to use for certain pieces, and an explanation of the various wood furniture crafting methods.

What are the Different Types of Wood Furniture?

Wood is the fundamental raw element used to construct furniture, and wood furniture begins with the raw materials used. There are two primary types of wood materials: solid wood, which includes hardwoods and softwoods, and manufactured wood, an engineered material that is often a composite of real wood and synthetic materials. We've defined each of these wood furniture terms below:

Solid Wood for Furniture Making

Solid wood comes purely from lumber and is a direct product of a tree. Two types of real wood are used in furniture making: hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood: Hardwood is denser than softwood, and hardwood lumber comes from deciduous trees that generally grow more slowly. As you may have already noticed, the wood types seen most in high-quality wooden furniture are from the hardwood family.

Softwood: Less dense than its hardwood cousin, softwood generally comes from coniferous (or evergreen) trees that grow more quickly.

Benchmade Cabinet
Engineered & Manufactured Wood for Furniture Making

Engineered or manufactured woods contain various types of wood composited together. Although they aren't solid woods, furniture makers often use engineered wood due to availability, price, and convenience.


Plywood: Many consider plywood the original engineered wood. It is made by taking 3-5 slices of thin lumber and combining them with adhesive. 

Particleboard: The process of creating particleboard starts with a wood chipper breaking down lumber into tiny fibers. All of the fiber is then glued together with adhesive. You may also hear this type of manufactured wood referred to as fiberboard.

Most Popular Types of Wood for Furniture

Maple Wood Furniture

Maple may be the ideal furniture wood. While there are many different types of maple, almost all are durable and make gorgeous furniture. It wears exceptionally well. Maple is naturally non-toxic, so you'll often see it used to make kitchen cutting boards. Several grain patterns are available depending on the type of maple you prefer.

Mahogany Wood Furniture

One of the more traditional woods in furniture making, mahogany is a beautiful wood. It is lighter in weight than some of the other wood types here but has the strength of oak. We think of mahogany as reddish-brown; however, there are lighter mahogany colors. Genuine mahogany is sourced from Latin America and is becoming harder and harder to find, and it can be expensive.

Oak Wood Furniture

Oak is a very durable wood often utilized for flooring and kitchen furniture. It is beautiful but can turn yellow over time. By contrast, red oak is slightly darker and more porous. Oak also looks inviting and is relatively inexpensive, so it's an excellent wood for furniture.

Cherry Wood Furniture

One of the most exciting characteristics of cherry wood is that it darkens with time, giving it a vibrant look as it ages. The color is what most people love about cherry, but there are other things to really like about it. Cherry wood has an even grain and is non-toxic, and cherry is also relatively dense and somewhat resistant to scratches and dents

Pine Wood Furniture

We're used to seeing knotty pine in rustic cabins and the like. So, we naturally assume pine is a good material for furniture, and it's quite the contrary. Pine is a softwood that is easily damaged; however, it is pretty inexpensive.

Cedar Wood Furniture
Bassett Benchmade Bed

Cedar is a relatively soft wood, so it's not ideal for indoor furniture. One usually sees closets constructed of cedar as its aromatic quality repels bugs. However, it's an excellent choice for outdoor furniture since cedar is naturally weather-resistant.

How Wood Furniture is Made

We've covered the various wood types used in furniture, so let's shift to the manufacturing processes used to create wood furniture.

Wood Furniture Manufacturing

During the 20th century, the pre-eminence of technology allowed several goods, including furniture, to be mass-produced. Within an assembly line, various parts of the wood furniture-making process occurred at different steps. For example, when manufacturing a table, the legs would all be made in one place. Ultimately, the benefits of this process were that excellent quality furniture, which had previously only been a luxury item, was now available to most households.

Handmade Wood Furniture

There were indeed many benefits of the industrialization of furniture-making. However, a downside was the level of skill and craftsmanship that was seemingly lost. When furniture designers produce your piece with their own hands, there is an undeniable level of care. The artist's name is associated with that product, and most artisans care deeply about their standing and reputation among peers. By contrast, a person who performs a single function on an assembly line is not nearly as accountable and has less reason to care about your satisfaction.


How to Identify Quality Handmade Furniture

Abingdon Dresser

It's wood furniture from experienced furniture designers. Every aspect of a bench-made furniture piece has a human touch during its design. Artisans of bench-made furniture consider the design quality in every detail, and this attention to detail leads to a gorgeous piece of solid-wood furniture. 

It's made from the best solid hardwoods for furniture. Artisans make bench-made furniture from the finest sourced solid woods. The finishes used are also of the utmost quality. 

It's custom-built wood furniture. Because expert artisans make them, bench-made furniture pieces are highly customizable, allowing someone to acquire handmade furniture designed to the dimensions and style of their choosing. 

Wood Furniture FAQs

Why is solid wood furniture so expensive?

Many factors help determine the price of solid wood furniture—supply and demand, for example. Because the best solid wood furniture is from hardwood, it grows more slowly, limiting supply and raising costs. Also, solid wood furniture may be more challenging to manufacture in mass quantities because each part requires cutting to an exact specification. In contrast, cutting and creating these modular pieces with manufactured wood is usually easier.

What is the best type of wood material for furniture?

Hardwoods are the best type of wood material for furniture. It's a product that is getting harder and harder to find, but hardwood furniture has the beauty and durability that any softwood or engineered wood cannot match. While softwoods can be beautiful, they are less durable than hardwoods. There is certainly durable and attractive engineered wood, but technological processes cannot currently emulate hardwood's natural character and beauty.

What is the best wood for desks?

We recommend cherry, oak, or maple for a wood desk. Cherry is a beautiful wood that adds style to any room and is a highly durable hardwood. For this reason, it is a trendy type of wood for desks. Solid oak is a durable hardwood that is extremely multi-faceted and a typical wood type for desks. Oak takes finishes very well and can convey many shades and styles depending on the finish. Maple wood is another popular choice for desks because of its durability and reasonable price point.

What is the best wood for tables?

The best wood for tables is walnut or maple. Walnut is one of the toughest woods and is a popular choice because of its beautiful grain character. Maple is incredibly durable and popular because it goes well with several types of stains.  

This video shows our furniture-making process and the attention to detail that goes into making a quality BenchMade table.

What is bench-made furniture?

Bench-made wood furniture describes a furniture-making process that combines quality craftsmanship with the best wood types available. Engineered wood is derived from lumber, but also contains various adhesives and other synthetic materials to form a composite material.

Experience the Best in Hand-Crafted Solid Wood Furniture

Want to see real bench-made furniture? Bassett's BenchMade furniture doesn't use the manufacturing techniques that characterized the 1900s. BenchMade furniture is old school, made the same way artisans in the Appalachian Mountains crafted furniture from the colonial period to the late 1800s. Explore our BenchMade collections for the next heirloom furniture piece to add to your family for generations to come. Our detailed processes and commitment to quality will ensure that your new BenchMade wood furniture will delight your home for years and years. And don't forget: once you have decided on the pieces of wood furniture that you want, be sure to read more in our blog about how to care for your solid wood furniture.

Shop in-store or online today, or contact us to speak with a design consultant with any questions about wood furniture or our BenchMade collections.