The type of wood you should use depends on what it’s good for, the look you’re going for, and your budget. This guide will give you a sense of what each type of wood’s best uses, typical look, and characteristics are.
A light brown. Generally used for flooring, boxes and crates, and in building materials.
A pale beige with golden undertones. Used in flooring, pallets, veneers, furniture, railroad ties, and musical instruments.
A pale beige with reddish undertones. Used to make plywood, boxes, crates, woodturned objects, and interior trim.
A deep, dark brown with black or brown streaks throughout. Used in woodturning and inlays.
A reddish-orangey dark brown. One of the densest woods. Used for veneers, firewood and small woodturned objects.
A cool-toned, light brown. Used for veneers, boxes, crates, pallets, instruments, and woodturned objects. Also used to make paper.
A medium brown with yellowish undertones. Used in cabinetry, furniture, veneers, flooring, and interior trim.
A light brown with warm golden undertones that darkens with age. Used as construction lumber, or to make boxes, crates, and paper.
A dark chocolate brown with dark brown streaks. Used for furniture, cabinetry, veneers, woodturned objects, and interior panelling.
Colour ranges from a pale straw shade to a dark reddish brown. Used to make plywood, veneers, flooring, and in general construction.
A medium to deep brown with an interlocking grain. Mainly used in outdoor furniture and heavy construction.
A brick red that darkens over time. Used in outdoor furniture, veneers, cabinetry, flooring, heavy construction, and woodturning.
A dark reddish brown with a straight or interlocking grain. Mainly used in outdoor furniture.
An orangey-brown, very similar to mahogany. Used for plywood, pallets, flooring, heavy construction, railroad ties.
A deep reddish brown with brown streaks that darkens with age. Used for furniture, boat-building, and interior trims.
A dark reddish or purplish brown, typically with white streaks. Used for indoor furniture, veneers, concrete forms, and general construction.
Colour ranges widely, from a medium orangey brown to a dark reddish brown. Used for furniture, flooring, instruments, and in woodturning.
A dark reddish brown. Used in furniture and joinery. Here’s an example of nyatoh furniture.
A medium to dark golden brown that darkens with age. Used for veneers and furniture. Also used in ship-building, exterior construction, and carving.
Baltic birch plywood
Thin layers of veneers glued together to form contrasting edging. Weather resistant, pale beige that darkens with exposure to sunlight. Used for cabinets, tabletops, and general carpentry.
A light yellowish brown. Thin layers of veneers glued together. Light & easy to work with. Typically used for cabinets with laminates. Also used for tabletops, and general carpentry.
A deep brown that has a distinct smell. Incredibly heavy. Used in shipyards and for outdoor furniture.
MDF (New Zealand)
Has a cardboard-like appearance: a hairy, pulp-like texture. Not water or weather resistant in the slightest. MDF is a very weak material — we only use it for spray-paint jobs, but it’s often used in general carpentry work.
Looks as if giant yellow cornflakes were pressed together to form sheets. Used in cabinet-making and general carpentry. In the US, it’s used as construction material.