Wood Types

Amboyna – A yellowish-brown burred surface somewhat between ‘bird’s-eye’ ‘ maple and burr walnut. Used in the eighteenth century and on into the nineteenth, both for crossbanding and for whole surfaces. Origin: East Indies.

Apple – One of the popular fruitwoods used in the solid country pieces in the eighteenth century, although it had some use as a veneer earlier. A light reddish-brown in color with some mild figuring. Fairly close-ground and hard.

Ash – A whitish-grey fairly hard wood used in country furniture in the eighteenth century and for drawer linings.

Beech – A light brown surface with a distinctive flecked grain. Much loved by woodworm and used largely for chairs from the seventeenth century onwards. In the late Georgian and Regency periods it was painted particularly in chair work. Early caned chairs of Restoration period were made from beech instead of walnut for economy and then ebonised.

Birch – A light yellowish-brown in color and fairly soft. Used in eighteenth century for chairs and country furniture.

Boxwood – A whitish-yellow color, without any figure. Used mainly as an inlay or for stringing lines from the sixteenth century.

Cedar – Reddish-brown, like a soft mahogany. Used for chests and interior work from the middle of the eighteenth century.

Cherry – Initially rather a pale wood but matures to a deeper reddish color. Used for country furniture and for inlay or crossbanding from seventeenth century.

Chestnut – Horse chestnut is light, almost white and mainly found as a drawer lining material. Sweet chestnut matures to a reddish-brown and is reasonably hard for a country wood. Used for legs and in chairs from the seventeenth century.

Coromandel – A yellow and black striped wood used mainly for crossbanding from the late eighteenth century onwards.

Deal – Plain, straight-grained Scots pine. Used mainly for carcases (of chests, etc.) and drawer linings of lesser quality pieces. From seventeenth century onwards.

Ebony – Black, used for inlays.

Elm – Brown, with distinctive blackish figuring when old and ingrained with dirt. Another favorite of woodworms, and sometimes warps. Used extensively for country furniture and chairs, including seats of Windsors. Cut into burr veneers of fairly small sheets with extremely pleasing effect.

Harewood – This is just sycamore which has been stained to a greyish-green color. Much used in later eighteenth century and Regency as a decorative veneer.

Holly – White, used for inlay and marquetry work from sixteenth century.

Kingwood – A brown and black striped wood like rosewood, particularly used for crossbanding on tables in late eighteenth Century. Was used previously in late seventeenth century also as a veneer.

Laburnum – cut as plain veneer, a yellow-brown with streaks of darker brown. Cut as an ‘oyster’ very dark rich blackish-brown. Used as veneer from late seventeenth century, particularly in parquetry.

Lignum vitaeDark brown with black streaks. Very hard, used from seventeenth century as veneer and in solid.

Lime – Whitish-yellow; used by carvers.

Mahogany – Early mahogany, from 1720, was ‘Spanish’ or ‘Cuban’ from Cuba, Jamaica, San Domingo and Puerto Rico. Very dark, heavy with figuring. Later, Honduras mahogany (originally called baywood) is lighter in color and with a Pinker tinge.

Maple – Light yellow; used as veneer and inlay. ‘Bird’s-eye’ maple used more in the nineteenth century.

Oak – Early oak – before mid-seventeenth century – used in solid, has become usually very dark or plain brown color. Later country oak furniture – of the eighteenth century – tends to be lighter and the distinctive ‘wormlike’ yellow rays are more visible. In fine furniture of late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, oak was used for drawer linings in plain sawn form, and especially in inner drawers remains light in color. Also used in veneer form.

Olive – Dark, greenish with black streaking. Used in parquetry, as ‘oysters’ and in veneers, from late seventeenth century.

Padouk – Red, with blackish figure. Used in solid from mid-eighteenth century and particularly from early nineteenth for military chests.

Pear – Yellowish-brown. Used for country furniture and for carving.

Plum – Yellowish-red. Used for country pieces and as an inlay from the seventeenth century.

Rosewood – Usually reddish-brown with black streaks, but fades to a greyer color, still with dark streaks. Used from the sixteenth century but mostly found in Regency period in solid and veneer.

Satinwood – Yellow. Used particularly from the late eighteenth century in veneer and solid. Usually makes for price premium.

Sycamore – White with fleck. Used from the late seventeenth century as a veneer. Often found on sides or banding of marquetry furniture of the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.

Tulipwood – Yellow-brown with reddish stripes. Used for crossbanding from the late eighteenth century.

Walnut – English walnut: golden brown with dark figuring. Much used in veneers from the sixteenth century but particularly 1660-1740. Also cut in burr and oyster form. Solid walnut used extensively in Tudor period. Black walnut: also grown in England from the late seventeenth century; usually called ”Virginian’ walnut and much darker. Used in solid and can be mistaken for mahogany at first glance.

Yew – Reddish-brown, very hard, with some burr effects. Polishes magnificently. Used from the sixteenth century; often found in chairs of country origin. Windsors and tables but also used on fine furniture in burr veneer form.

Zebra-wood – Brown with dark stripes. Used as a veneer from the late eighteenth century.

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