Wood Species

Maple species is divided into two groups: Hard maple, which includes sugar and black maple; and soft maple, which includes red and silver maple. Until the turn of the century, the heels of women's shoes were made from maple, as were airplane propellers in the 1920s. Maple has been a favorite of furniture makers since early Colonial days. Hard maple is the standard wood for cutting boards because it imparts no taste to food and holds up well.

  • Color: Cream to light reddish-brown.
  • Grain: Usually straight-grained and sometimes found with highly figured bird's-eye or burl grain. Bird's-eye resembles small circular or elliptical figures. Clusters of round curls are known as burl.
  • Characteristics: Heavy, hard, strong, tough, stiff, close-grained and possesses a uniform texture. Maple has excellent resistance to abrasion and indentation, making it ideal flooring as well as cutting boards and countertops.
  • Finishing: Takes stain satisfactorily and polishes well.


Red and white oak are the most abundant hardwood species available in North America. It would be difficult to name a wood with a longer and more illustrious history in furnishings and interior design. Oak was a favorite of early English craftsmen and a prized material for American Colonists. White oak is just one of 86 oak species native to this country, but it is the classic oak of America. Red oak grows only in North America and is found further north than any other oak species. A big, slow growing tree, red oak takes 20 years to mature and lives an average of 300 years.

  • Color: White Oak- ranges from nearly white sapwood to a darker gray brown heartwood, Red Oak-ranges from nearly white cream color to a beautiful warm, pale brown heartwood, tinted with red.
  • Grain: The grain is distinguished by rays, which reflect light and add to its attractiveness. Depending on the way the logs are sawn into timber (rift-cut, flat sliced, flat sawn, rotary cut, quartered), many distinctive and sought after patterns emerge: flake figures, pin stripes, fine lines, leafy grains and watery figures.
  • Characteristics: Heavy, very strong and very hard, stiff, durable under exposure, great wear-resistance, holds nails and screws well.
  • Uses: Flooring, furniture, cabinets, ships and decorative woodwork.
  • Finishing: Oaks can be stained beautifully with a wide range of finish tones.


There are nine species of birch native to North America, including the very distinctive and familiar white birch. The white birch species is very popular in Newfoundland and is the most common and important commercial lumber in our province. It is identified by its bright, yellowish bronze coloured bark that peels in long, thin horizontal strips.

  • Color: Cream or lightly tinged with red.
  • Grain: Fine grained (often curly or wavy).
  • Characteristics: Heavy, strong, hard, and even-textured.
  • Finishing: Birch takes paints and stains well.


Like all fruit trees, cherry belongs to the rose family and was used as early as 400 B.C. by the Greeks and Romans for furniture making. Cherry helped define traditional design because Colonial cabinetmakers recognized its superior woodworking qualities. The wood from the cherry tree can be described in a single word: beautiful. Its rich red-brown color deepens with age. Small dark gum flecks add to its interest. Distinctive, unique figures and grains are brought out through quarter sawing. It has an exceptionally lustrous appearance that glows. The finish is satiny to the touch.

  • Color: Rich, reddish-brown. Cherry darkens considerably with age and exposure to sunlight.
  • Grain: Straight-grained and satiny. Small gum pockets produce distinctive markings.
  • Characteristics: Light, strong, stiff and rather hard. Cherry's grain is more subdued than some other hardwood species, with very interesting character.
  • Finishing: Cherry is unsurpassed in its finishing qualities-its uniform texture takes a finish very well.

Pine (White)

A very large tree with relatively few horizontal big limbs, the Eastern white pine is one of the tallest timber trees in the Northeast.

  • Color: white to pale yellow with a reddish tinge. It darkens with age and air exposure, eventually turning to a deep orange color.
  • Grain: The wood is light, soft, straight grained and with very uniform texture.
  • Characteristics: It works very well and is easily shaped with hand and power tools. This wood accepts many types of glue well, making for tight bonding.
  • Finishing: Pine takes most finishes well. With some stains, a sealer helps prepare the wood to achieve a more even look.