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Wood Species Guide

Wood Species Guide

When you’re looking for a custom table, whether it be for your dining room or your boardroom, it’s helpful to know what type of wood you’d prefer your furniture to be built with. Part of the beauty of commissioning a custom wood table after all is getting to select your wood species. But with so many options, it can be difficult to choose. 

At Son of a Woodcutter, we use solid Ontario Wood to build all of our pieces. That means it’s locally harvested and a great sustainable option for your home. There are hundreds of different species of wood out there – from soft woods to hard woods. There are even restricted and endangered woods! 

We offer several locally-sourced hardwoods. When it comes to choosing the wood species that will be used for your custom furniture project, it’s helpful to do a little bit of research first. That’s why we’ve created this simple guide to our top wood species.

But first – the Janka scale

Throughout this article, we’ll be looking at the way that different wood species rank on the Janka scale. This scale is a way to measure the hardness of the wood. The higher the Janka ranking, the harder the species.

Wood Species we offer :

  • Ash
  • Cherry
  • Walnut (Black Walnut)
  • Ambrosia Maple
  • Hard Maple
  • White Oak

  • Ash is a classic Ontario species that is very suitable to furniture-making because of its lightweight quality and durability. It also absorbs stains quite well. This wood species is lightly coloured, typically light beige to light brown. Ash wood grows throughout certain parts of Canada and the US. Believe it or not, the wood from ash trees is so hard that it’s used to make baseball bats. 

    It is straight grained. It can sometimes be mistaken for oak because of the similarities in the grain pattern. However, Ash is a more affordable alternative. 

    It’s a popular wood choice for both modern and traditional furniture.

    Janka Value - 1320
    Price Range - $$

    Cherry Wood

    Cherry wood is known for being very durable. It’s a stable, straight-grained wood. Of course, like any natural material, the wood grain can have unique characteristics, with grain patterns that are sometimes curly. While you can stain this hardwood, we’re not sure why you would – its natural colour is so beautiful! This wood has an even texture with a natural luster. We think cherry is an under appreciated wood - it’s one of our favourites! You can expect an incredible dark orange/amber colour in 6-12 months, or sooner in exposed to direct sunlight.

    Cherry wood is harvested from the American Black Cherry Tree (prunus serotina). This North American tree grows in certain parts of Canada, the US and Mexico.

    Janka Value - 997

    Price Range - $$$

    Walnut Wood (Black Walnut)

    Walnut is a very desirable species because of its beautiful colour. It’s definitely a wood species you don’t want to stain! The colour can vary from a light brown to a dark chocolate brown depending on a few factors. The time of the year it’s milled, the drying method used and different minerals in soil can all affect the shade of brown that Walnut wood ends up. The colour can sometimes have a grey, purple or reddish cast. It typically has a straight grain.

    It’s a pleasure to work with Walnut, and we love to use an oil-based finish to bring out the natural colour of the wood. This is a very popular wood for building beautiful and durable furniture. Because of this, it’s considered a premium hardwood!

    Janka Value - 1010

    Price Range - $$$

    Ambrosia Maple (Wormy Maple)

    Ambrosia Maple is a popular choice for furniture because it’s a great mix of affordability and durability. Ambrosia Maple is the most affordable wood species we work with. It’s softer than other hardwoods. Because of this, it absorbs stain really well and makes for beautiful finishes. It’s perfectly suitable for dining tables, coffee tables, shelves, and other wood furniture.

    You may sometimes hear it called wormy maple, but ambrosia wood gets its name from the ambrosia beetle. Ambrosia maple has beautiful grey streaks caused by ambrosia beetles living in the maple trees. But don’t worry, they’re long gone by the time we get the materials and the wood has been kiln-dried! We think it only adds to the beautiful natural character of this wood species.

    Janka Value - 850

    Price Range - $ 



    Hard Maple Wood

    Hard maple is a heavy hardwood that creates beautiful, solid furniture that will look great in your home for years to come. The wood grain on this particular wood is really incredible. It’s usually straight, but sometimes hard maple will have a slightly wavy grain. Because of how durable this wood is, it’s great for areas that get tons of use. The hardness of this wood makes it an ideal choice for countertops, kitchen islands and bar tops.

    If you’re looking for a stained table, hard maple may not be your best option. This wood is best suited for a natural finish and looks gorgeous without a stain.

    Janka - 1450

    Price Range - $$

    White Oak

    White oak is an elegant choice! This species of wood went under appreciated for a long time, but has risen in popularity in the last few years, and for good reason! It makes for stylish and durable furniture pieces. This wood species is so durable, it’s frequently used in the building of boats! But these days, we’re seeing it used a lot in all kinds of furniture, from white oak tables to shelving.

    This wood does not stain well but you’ll love its beautiful natural colour. White oak is a gorgeous shade of light brown and sometimes has a grey cast.

    Janka - 1350

    Price Range - $$

    Have questions about our wood species or your custom furniture? Contact us!

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    Hand-built solid wood desks

    Hand-built solid wood desks

    Your home office should never feel stale – after all, it’s uniquely yours. Why not bring a little bit of the outdoors into your office with a solid wood desk? After all, having natural wood in your workspace has been shown to reduce stress. 

    We saw a need for this, as our own customers were looking to make their offices feel warmer and more welcoming. We also know the infamous back pain, tightness and headaches that can come from having a set up that isn’t ergonomic. So with that in mind, last fall, we launched our sit-stand desk.



    Why a sit-stand desk?

    A sit-stand desk is pretty straightforward – it’s a height-adjustable desk that you can choose to sit at, or stand at! 

    Sit-stand desks have become more popular in recent years because of the many health benefits they offer. People who sit a lot are at risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well as weight gain. Constantly getting knots in your shoulders? That might be from sitting at your desk all day. 

    Having the option to stand for designated periods of time has shown to give your health a boost and increase productivity. It’s also been shown to improve mood and energy levels. 

    Of course, when it comes to building something like this, functionality is crucial. Our sit-stand desks are hand-built with care here in Toronto, with careful attention to the quality of materials and ergonomic design. We think they’re pretty easy on the eyes, too.


    Customize It

    Whether your office is a spacious retreat or a corner in your living room, we can help you build a desk that works for you. We can build standard desks or sit-stand desks. 

    Customize your dimensions to optimize for your space. You can also choose from live edge or straight edge, a wide array of wood species, and black or white legs. It’s your workspace, your way.

    Our hand-built desks are sustainably built using only Ontario wood, so you can be productive and play a part in supporting a clean environment.


    Save now on all desks

    For a limited time, we’re offering 15% off all of our desks – from sit-stand desks to custom desk commissions. Shop our sit-stand desk or reach out to us about customizations.

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    Butcher Blocks vs. Wood Countertops

    Butcher Blocks vs. Wood Countertops

    You’ve probably heard the term “butcher block”. We’ve seen a lot of confusion around this wording. At some point in time, many people started calling any solid wood tables or countertops “butcher block”. (Not to point fingers or anything, but we’re thinking it may have been thanks to Ikea) There is a difference between the two, and treating your counter the same way you would a butcher block could result in long term damage to the wood. So, we think it’s important to make the distinction. 

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    Meet the Kantan, a Japanese inspired dining table

    Meet the Kantan, a Japanese inspired dining table

    In traditional Japanese home design, there are three things that are given the utmost importance: simplicity, functionality, and attention to nature and space.

    These values are so similar to our values here at Son of a Woodcutter that it’s no wonder we were inspired by Japanese furniture design to create one of our newest dining tables. In a traditional japanese home, every piece has a function and simple elegance. This is what we aimed for when we designed the Kantan table, which literally means “simple” in Japanese. This simple beauty was designed to look incredible in any home, bringing balance and a healthy dose of nature to your dining room.



    The Design

    Japanese design is clean and uncluttered. The modern base of our Kantan table is what really makes this piece unique, with its clean lines and simple elegance. We’ve used natural wood with a dark stain to bring nature into the home. The Kantan is available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 6ft x 3ft all the way up to 10ft x 4ft.

    The Materials

    In traditional Japanese homes, wood was used in much of the construction, and much of the furniture was made with wood. Japanese furniture design has always seemed to lean towards a connection with the natural. 

    As with all of our furniture, the Kantan is built with Ontario wood making it a sustainable and durable choice. The locally-sourced Ambrosia Maple wood that this table is made of is carefully hand-picked here in Toronto. Ambrosia is part of the hardwood family, and sits at the softer end of the scale. It’s a little softer than common hardwoods like Walnut, which actually improves the way the wood soaks up stains. Ambrosia Maple makes for beautiful satin finishes.

    Because Ambrosia maple grows faster than many other wood species, it is a great cost effective option. We’ve also custom-mixed the stain to mimic walnut – a great affordable alternative.



    Want to know more? You can take a look at our Kantan table here.



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    Revolutionizing the Shelving Industry: HOVR and Floating Shelves

    Revolutionizing the Shelving Industry: HOVR and Floating Shelves

    We’re seeing floating shelves everywhere lately. They offer a clean and stylish way to display your items on your wall. They’re modern, minimal, and a great option for bathrooms, offices and even kitchens. The downside? Without the right support, they sag, droop, and can be a safety hazard. The struggle is real when it comes to floating shelves. 



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    Meet Will, Our Shop Manager

    Meet Will, Our Shop Manager

    A lot goes on behind the scenes at Son of a Woodcutter. The work we do wouldn’t be possible without our awesome team. They’re dedicated and hardworking. They’re passionate about their craft. Will is no exception. We asked him a few questions about his background in woodworking and his role at Son of a Woodcutter. Here’s what happened! 

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