Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, as opposed to softwoods, which come from coniferous trees. Most hardwoods are extremely durable and heavy, making them good for furniture construction since they hold up for many years. Certain types of hardwood are especially popular in furniture construction.
Mahogany is a medium to hard wood that has a medium grain and weakly defined annual rings. An excellent carving wood, mahogany ranges from tan to reddish-brown in color. It is a very durable wood and keeps its shape through swelling and shrinkage. These qualities, combined with its resistance to decay, make it a great hardwood for cabinetry and furniture making.
Oak is the hardwood most commonly used for fine, durable furniture. A very hard and heavy wood oak can be found in red and white varieties throughout North America and Europe. Red oak, also known as black oak, has a pinkish hint and is more popular than white oak, which has a slightly greenish cast. Oaks have prominent annual rings and large pores, making their grain very prominent and allowing them to stain well in any color.
Maple is a light-colored hardwood known for its ability to resist shock and its highly durable quality. The evenly sized pores of maple wood gives it a fine texture and even grain. Maple also stains well.
Cherry is a highly regarded hardwood used in many traditional and formal settings. It is prized for its color, uniform texture and fine grain, and is often expensive. It is stiff and strong, and lasts a long time.
Walnut is strong and hard without being excessively heavy. Found in light to dark chocolate-brown color, walnut has a straight grain and finishes well.
Beech is a medium to hard wood found mostly in the northeast United States and Canada. Pale in color and heavy, beech is often used for constructing chairs and stools. Beech has a fine and tight grain, and is shock resistant and easy to stain.
Ariel Phillips is an editor and writer living in Portland, Ore. He has written for "n+1 Journal" and "The Rumpus Magazine," among others. He maintains an interest in a variety of subjects, including art, culture, the environment, media, the sciences and sports. He earned bachelor's degrees in art and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara.