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Timber Types

A Guide to Timber Selection

At Rutland Woodcraft we pride ourselves on the variety of timbers we work with and from which your furniture can be made. To help you decide we have shown here samples of the more popular timbers. All illustrations are for your guidance only, as the final grain pattern and colour will vary. A relative pricing factor is included as a guide, where = cheapest.

American Black Walnut

Whilst American Black Walnut is shown here, and is the most commonly used of the Walnuts, there are also European and African types available. It is a dark, rich, timber sometimes purplish in colour with visible growth rings. The grain is of a medium texture and sometimes shows a wavy characteristic. It stains and polishes with ease finishing to a fabulous lustre.

Price: ••••• Applications: Tables, chests, chairs, wood turning (eg. table legs), decorative inlay.

American Black Walnut


This is a grey/brown timber lighter than the Oak and with quite visible growth rings. It is a tough, springy, timber, hence it's use for hammer handles. It takes a stain readily and finishes well. Both European and American Ash are available, the European sometimes has streaks of darker heart wood running through it.

Price: ••• Applications: Tables, chests, chairs, wood turning.

American White Oak

This timber is plainer and has less figure and a slightly straighter grain than the similar European Oak. It's colour tends to vary from light cream to a darker brown. There is also a less common red species available.
Price: ••••• Applications: Kitchen furniture, tables, bookcases, chairs.

Ash timber
American White Oak


Beech is recognised by the unmistakeable flecks in its grain. It is pale cream to pinkish brown in colour and has a smooth even texture. It is quite a heavy dense timber which finishes and stains well, available in white or steamed condition. Steamed Beech is a pinker more even colour. Growth rings may be less prominant than shown here.
Price: ••• Applications: Chairs, tables, kitchen furniture, drawers.

Beech timber
American Cherry

Cherry (American)

Cherry is a fine grained pale orange timber which darkens and redens on exposure to light. It is often used as a substitute for mahogany and takes a stain well. The Sapwood is a pale cream colour.

Price: ••••• Applications: Fine cabinetry, woodturning,musical instruments.


Not always as readily available as most of the other timbers here, but when we can get it is truly a king amongst beautiful timbers. The colour is usually a dull brown, with the occasional red tinge and swirls of grain around the knots. At the knots other colours may also be present, such as a green tint. The texture is very coarse and the growth rings are pronounced.

Price: •••• Applications: Chests, tables, chairs, bedroom furniture.

Burr Elm

Used primarily as a decorative timber in combination with other timbers. Visibly it is very impacting and distinctive so we usually recommend that it used conservatively; every board is unique. Availability can be limited.

Price: ••••• Applications: Table tops, panels, drawer fronts, wood turning.

Elm timber
Burr Elm

European Oak

This is the number one popular material and is available in several differnt grades. The standard grade is relatively straight grained and pale creamy brown in colour. The texture of the grain is coarse with visible growth rings.

Price: •••• Applications: Tables, chairs, panels, doors, wood turning, drawers, carving.

European Oak

European Oak Quarter Sawn

This is the same as the popular European Oak, but has been cut from the tree in a different way to produce the lovely characteristic figure shown here. This can be used to great decorative effect, such as table tops or door panels.

Price: ••••• Applications: Table tops, door panels, drawer sides.

European Oak Character Grade

For projects where a rustic or aged look is required. This oak comes complete with knots, splits and their attendant swirls of grain. Otherwise its characteristics are similar to European Oak.

Price: •••• Applications: Cabinets, doors, panels.

European Oak Character Grade
European Oak Quarter Sawn


We use timber from managed plantation forests to reduce the load on endangered rainforest's. The timber varies in colour from salmon pink through to a dark red/brown and has beautiful figure due to it's interlocked grain. The texture is medium and uniform.

Price: ••••• Applications: Tables, chairs, cabinets, panels, drawers, carving, wood turning.


Maple, along with it's European cousin Sycamore, is one of the palest timbers available, being a pale cream colour. It has visible growth rings, a dense hard structure and a fine almost invisible grain. This makes it a very smooth timber which stains and polishes to a high finish. Sycamore tends to be whiter and not quite as hard. Both are often used with darker timbers for a decorative effect.

Price: •••• Applications: Worksurfaces, chairs, doors, wood turning, decorative inlay.

MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard)

This is used extensively for kitchen carcases as it has an easy wipe clean surface which is durable. It is available in a range of wood grain effects and colours. Light Oak is the sample shown here.

Price: •• Applications: Kitchen carcase work.

Mahogany timber
Maple timber
Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC)

MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard)

This is a manufactured board of low relative cost and is used as a carcase material or for painted furniture. It is a stable material but doesn't match the strength of a timber. It's produced from felted wood fibres bonded under high pressure and displays no grain. Veneered versions are available; see the Oak Faced MDF below.

Price: Applications: General carcase work, painted furniture.

Oak Faced MDF

The core material is MDF (as above) that has been veneered on both sides offering a decorative timber surface that is cost effective compared to using solid timber. The same finshes can be applied as per a solid timber.

Price: ••• Applications: Bookcases, drawer bottoms, cabinet backs, panels.

Tulip Wood With Primer Finish

Also known as Canary White Wood and is often used in combination with MDF for painted furniture for the more structural parts, such as cabinet doors and frames. It's not a decorative timber, but its smooth surface and texture make it ideal for painting. We can supply this material primed, finish painted or with decorative effects. The sample shown has a primed finish.

Price: ••• Applications: Painted furniture such as bookshelves, cornice work.

Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF)
Oak Faced MDF
Tulip Wood with Primer Finish
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