How to Find Out What Wood My Furniture Is Made Of?

During furniture refinishing jobs, it is important to know what kind of wood the piece is made of in order to properly repair, refinish, and varnish or paint it.
Different types of wood require different techniques, and identifying the type of wood that is being worked on is the first step in understanding what method and which materials should be used on that type of wood. A guide to the basic woods used in furniture-making will be useful in determining what type of wood the furniture is made of.

Step 1

Look to see whether the wood is a hardwood or a softwood. Hardwoods have pores, or vessels, that make them denser woods than softwoods.

Oak, poplar, birch, elm, maple, aspen, alder and ash are examples of hardwoods that are commonly used for furniture-making.

Pine, spruce, cedar, fir, larch and Douglas fir are examples of some softwoods commonly used to make furniture.

Step 2

Inspect the wood's grain. Each type of wood has a distinctive grain that assists in identifying its origins.

Use a wood chart. A chart will show photos of each type of wood's exact grain, and this will facilitate exact identification.

Step 3

Check the color of the wood and then look at a wood chart. Aspen, oak, beech and birch have the lightest colors of the most commonly used furniture woods. But generally, the shades and hues of each wood's colors are distinctive. A wood chart is an important tool when identifying wood colors.

Step 4

Consult with a carpenter to find out what kind of wood the furniture is made of.

It is vital to know the wood's origins when deciding how to work on a piece of furniture. The cost of a consultation with a carpenter is a good investment if the type of wood that the furniture is made of is in question.

Things You Will Need

  • Wood guide
  • Furniture

About the Author

Laurie Rappeport is a writer and blogger with more than 10 years of experience. Her areas of expertise are in education, child development, travel, pets, nutrition and health for Demand Studios and a major travel website. Rappeport holds a Master of Arts degree from Wayne State University.