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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!

    • Post author
      Jack Fouracre