Antique Furniture – Types of Wood
Here is a selection of woods used for antique furniture. We give you a brief insight into Mahogany , Oak , Walnut , Rosewood , Elm , Bird’s-Eye Maple , Satinwood , Calamander , Sycamore and Kingwood.
Mahogany is a close grained hardwood, native to South America and the West Indies. It varies in colour from dark brown to red and occasionally has a spotted effect. As the girth of the tree is broad furniture makers were able to use a single cut of wood for a table top. Furniture made from mahogany became very popular in Britain from mid 18 th Century, followed by the rest of Europe.
Oak is a slow growing tree, taking between 150 – 200 years to reach maturity. The wood is hard and pale in colour, but darkens to a rich brown with age and polishing. Furniture made from oak is usually heavy, solid and simple in design. From the mid 17 th Century oak was mainly used for the carcass and drawer linings of furniture. Oak was a popular wood used in the Georgian era and made a revival in late Victorian times.
Walnut is a close grained hard wood, the colour varying between light golden brown and light grey brown, often with a rich grain pattern. Burr Walnut is the term for walnut with knotty whorls in the grain where injuries occurred on the trunk or the roots of the tree.
Rosewood is a very dark brown hardwood, with an almost black wavy grain. The name comes from the scent released when the wood is cut. It is used for inlaid decoration and veneer, but was not used for making solid furniture until the early 19 th Century.
Elm is a hard and durable wood. Chairs were made from elm in the Georgian period. It has a particularly attractive grain and polishes well.
Bird’s–Eye Maple was popular for veneers in the Regency period, and was also used in Victorian and Edwardian bedroom suites. The wood is specked and polishes well.
Satinwood became popular in the early 19 th Century. It was used for veneers, inlaid decoration and the pale colour made it suitable for painting. It made a revival in the Edwardian era.
Calamander is a member of the ebony family. Popular in the Regency period, it is light brown in colour, striped, mottled with black and was used for veneers and banding.
Sycamore is a hard, pale wood with a fine even grain. It is also known as Harewood.
Kingwood is a rich brown colour with purplish tones. It was used as a veneer or for parquetry decoration, particularly in France.