Identifying the Type of Wood in Antique Furniture

Antique furniture

If you are in the business of estate liquidation or you have recently inherited Great Aunt Dorothy’s beautiful antique bureau and you want to find out if it’s worth anything. Before you call an antiques appraiser, try and identify the type of wood yourself.

Steps to Identifying Wood 

First, you need to ascertain whether it is indeed solid wood as opposed to a veneer which has been applied to plywood or stamped fiberboard. It’s quite easy to spot because the grain will generally not match up at the edges and you can see repetitive patterns in an artificial veneer.

Then you should take note of what has been added or done to the piece. Paint, stain and weathering can alter the appearance of what lies underneath (grain and color) so it’s important that you are looking at the actual wood. Sanding will help in this situation.

Types of Common Wood 

Pine is the most common wood and it’s easily identifiable by its dark knots and yellowish color. The grain is straight, and it is ring-porous – meaning that the growth rings appear as darker lines throughout.

Red and white oak are also commonly used, and both have a light brown colour with clearly visible growth rings, a straight grain and few knots. The best identifying feature for oak species is visible when the wood is ‘quartersawn’ and will display flecks of rays running perpendicular to the growth rings, creating beautiful patterns.

Soft and hard maple wood are also used extensively and have a light, creamy color which darkens to a light yellow, or a light reddish-brown if exposed to sunlight, making it an unfavorable selection for some spaces or items. It is known for its unusual and varied grain patterns.

Walnut, cherry, and birch are also widely used.

Whether you’re a curious owner doing your broom-swept clean out, an estate appraiser, or an antiques appraiser, you should know the value of your wooden items. For more information, contact Jerry’s Antiques for more information about estate liquidation and antique furniture today.