Best Way To Identify Different Types of Wood in Antique Furniture

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

Antique furniture is old and often worth a considerable amount of money. In some cases, it only has sentimental value. But, what you may not realize is that antique furniture is often not made with just one type of wood. It was made with whatever was to hand. 

This means it can be difficult to take the best possible care of your wooden furniture unless you know what wood has been used. The good news is that you can identify the different types of wood, you simply need a little help. 

Of course, if you allow the professionals to undertake furniture restorations for you, they can also identify the different woods for you and advise re how to care for the furniture. 


Pine is considered a softwood and it has a distinctive pale yellow color. It is very light, making it easy to pick up. This is partly because it is resistant to shrinking or swelling. It is a relatively cheap wood and commonly used in interior pieces of furniture, although it is generally veneered over. 

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This wood originated in America and the West Indies, it is a hardwood and one of the toughest around. You’ll find it in most examples of antique European furniture. The color actually ranges from light brown to red with rich undertones and a ribbon effect across the surface. It is commonly used in dining tables and dressers. 


Oak is also a hardwood and one of the most popular in olden times. There are two main types of oak, red and white. It is used frequently in woodturning and can be found in almost all types of furniture. 

Oak can also be cut to show the flecks which make it appear almost holographic. It is quite magical.

Damaged oak is often replaced with ash which looks very similar. You will need to be careful when deciding which type of wood you are dealing with.


Walnut is also a hardwood and a dark wood. It ranges from dark brown to almost back in color. In fact, you can even get walnut with a purple hue. But, what you may not know is that walnut is also available in browns and whites. It lightens as it ages, meaning antique pieces of walnut often have a yellow-brown color. 

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Walnut is also expensive, making it a rare choice for furniture, it is more likely to be a walnut veneer than a solid piece of walnut.


Cherry is also a hardwood and one of the most popular, especially with American antiques and Queen Anne styles. The wood had a delicate pink hue when first cut and used. But, over time this darkens, creating beautiful red colors. 

This makes it a popular choice for display cabinets as this wood is potentially the most stunning of all the options available.

Final Thoughts

Identifying the wood allows you to choose the best way to look after it. This means it will last longer and look fantastic. What more can you want from your antique furniture? 

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