Tips for Identifying Different Types of Wood in Antique Furniture

Antique furniture refers to collectible pieces that are at least 100 years old. Knowing the wood used in such furniture is crucial for repairs. However, professional restoration is advised to avoid damage to the piece’s value. It’s important to know your woods!

Oak Wood

Oak is a commonly used wood in antique furniture and is known for its durability, lasting for hundreds of years. It has visible groups of large and small pores on the end grain, usually seen around joins. Antique oak will have a yellow hue. If you have a broken piece of antique furniture, running your hand across the exposed wood will reveal a smooth surface if it’s oak.

Oak Wood


Mahogany is a tropical hardwood, often considered exotic, and frequently used in antique furniture. It has a distinctive red-brown color that makes it easy to identify. However, there are other shades of mahogany, such as grey, brown, and peach. To confirm that the wood is mahogany, examine the grain closely. All mahogany wood has a pale pink background with dark lines.

Cherry Wood

Cherry wood is one of the most expensive hardwoods and a favored choice among wealthy aristocrats in the past. The wood has a smooth grain and a slight pink tinge when young, which darkens and turns reddish in antique furniture. Additionally, cherry wood features pitch pockets, which are black flecks caused by minerals that can be randomly scattered throughout the wood.


Pine, a softwood, was frequently used in the past and is still popular for making furniture. Its softness makes it more susceptible to damage. The growth rings of pine darken as it ages, creating visible dark knots and rings in antique pine furniture.

These contrasts against a paler background. Despite its softness, it can look fantastic if properly prepared and is an excellent choice for rustic furniture. To determine if you are looking at an authentic piece of antique furniture, you simply need to examine and feel the wood.

Pine Wood


In conclusion, identifying different types of wood in antique furniture can be challenging, but with the right tools and knowledge, it can also be a rewarding experience. By using your senses of sight, touch, and smell, along with some basic knowledge of wood grains and characteristics, you can learn to identify different types of wood in antique furniture.

Remember to do your research, as different time periods and regions often favored specific types of wood. Additionally, consulting with experts or experienced collectors can provide valuable insights and help you refine your skills.

By mastering the art of identifying different types of wood, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the history and craftsmanship of antique furniture and become a more informed and discerning collector.

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