wood selection

Welcome to our wood selection guide. Most of the furniture we design can be built from any of our woods. You can also mix the woods in most cases to create contrast.

Each wood species has its own characteristics, so please take a moment to learn about the woods used by Denali Woodworks.

We would be happy to help you select a wood for your furniture as well. Simply contact us.



Cherry adds richness and warmth to any room. It has been used for centuries to make fine furniture and cabinets.

Characteristics: Cherry is available in flat sawn, curly, and rarely quarter sawn. Cherry wood is beautiful in flat sawn wood, but curly boards can add a level of accent to any piece. This curl can vary from subtle, all the way to dramatic and can be a great way to accent a door, drawer front, or table top.

Cherry sapwood, the wood at the outer edge of a log, is much lighter in appearance than the center heartwood. You will never find cherry sapwood on our drawer fronts, doors, or table tops due to this contrasting color.

Cherry also has naturally occurring sap pockets in its wood. This special characteristic appears as a small black flake in the grain. Due to the randomness of this, we are unable to grant requests for specific placement. However, on occasion we do have a supply of “gummy cherry” that contains 5-10 times the amount of these pockets. Let us know if you are interested in this.

Appearance: Cherry darkens with age from a light tan to a rich brownish red. When it arrives it will start as a pale tan, but within a couple of months it will begin to change. The rate at which it darkens depends on the amount of sunlight it receives as the sun will speed up this process.

Staining: Cherry stains well, but often is best left with only a natural finish to enhance the grain and color of the wood. Staining curly cherry is not recommended as the curl absorbs more stain and dulls the overall appearance of the wood.




If you are looking for a strong and durable wood, oak may be the right choice for you.

Characteristics: Oak has been used for centuries to build everything from railroad ties to heirloom furniture. Available in flat sawn and quarter sawn, oak has a heavy and large grain pattern.

Flat sawn oak highlights this grain pattern, while quarter sawn oak showcases the rays and flakes of the wood often seen in Mission furniture. The distinct grain pattern helps to hide the inevitable surface scratches and scuffs that occur with years of use.

Staining: Oak stains very well. The grain of the wood is further enhanced with stain and an endless amount of colors can be used with oak.




Maple is a closed grain wood that is one of the heaviest and hardest woods available. Its light cream white color makes it a favorite for accent pieces and light colored furniture.

Characteristics: Maple is available in flat sawn, birds-eye, and flame/tiger. For a subtle look with minimal grain variation, flat sawn maple is your choice.

Naturally occurring birds-eye with its tiny circular swirls is relatively rare and no one knows exactly why this occurs. It is anything but subtle and the curl almost appears iridescent from different angles.

Flame or Tiger Maple is similar to quarter sawn oak, but with larger rays that can appear to look like flames or strips in the wood, hence the names. It can be a great accent wood when mixed with darker woods or with flat sawn maple.

Maple has naturally occurring mineral streaks in the wood. While we typically limit these streaks on casework or table tops, we can highlight it if you desire.

Appearance: When your maple furniture arrives it will be pale, almost white, but with time it will darken to a soft golden cream color. Sunlight will speed up this process.

Staining: We recommend that you do not stain maple. The grain absorbs the stain unpredictably and the results are often blotchy.




Walnut is known for its rich brown color, dramatic grain, and rich depth. It is a great wood selection for beds, desks, and tables.

Characteristics: While the wood is often straight grained, it is not uncommon to find curly or wavy figure as well.

Walnut sapwood, the wood at the outer edge of a log, is much lighter in appearance than the center heartwood. You will never find walnut sapwood on our drawer fronts or doors. This contrasting color is often used in our live edge tables as we believe it adds to the live edge look and design.

Appearance: Unlike most woods, walnut will actually lighten over time. When your furniture first arrives, it will have a dark brown color. With time, different color tones will develop throughout the wood, giving it an incredible depth.

Staining: While walnut stains well, due to its dark natural appearance, the color change will be slight. Most often walnut is best finished with a natural oil based finish that will enhance the natural beauty of the wood.


Other Woods


Denali Woodworks offers many other species of woods for our furniture upon request. Because we only use sustainable and responsibly harvested woods, we may have limited ability to obtain some of the more exotic woods. However, feel free to ask about other choices.

Some of the other regularly available species include Ash, Birch, Elm, Reclaimed Oak, Mahogany, Bubinga, and Teak.

If you are looking for something unusual, talk to us about available options. Exotic wood supplies change frequently.