The beauty of real wood furniture lies in the variations and differences that Nature has created in grain patterns. They lend character and authenticity to your home... like you, they make it special and unique.
Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture is handcrafted in Vermont using real solid wood. Each board in your furniture is selected by hand, and inspected for quality, strength, straightness, grain and color. Our furniture makers use wood that comes from North American forests that are harvested sustainably. These forests are professionally managed such that they will be around for generations. When requested, we use FSC green-certified lumber, although there is still a premium for FSC certified wood. Sometimes our artisans harvest lumber from the woods on their own property, a sustainable approach that adds another dimension to the story of your furniture.
When you buy furniture from Vermont Woods Studios you are making a responsible decision to maintain a healthier planet. The solid hardwoods and time-tested craftsmanship used to build your furniture ensure premium quality, luxury and durability. You can relax knowing that both your new solid wood furniture pieces and the forests they came from will be around to enjoy for generations.
Our furniture makers typically work with the following four species of wood: black cherry, sugar maple, red oak and black walnut. We like these species because they are well suited to fine furniture making by virtue of their color, strength, hardness, grain patterns and workability. They are also readily obtainable in our local and regional area, making them a sustainable choice. Often our furniture makers will offer two-tone combinations of these woods creating a custom, artisan look and feel to their work.
If you are looking for a different wood species, give us a call. We will be happy to discuss options and considerations involving the use of other wood species.
Natural Wood Characteristics
Nature's Designs Are Perfectly Imperfect
The wood in your Vermont Woods Studios furniture is natural solid hardwood and just as the trees in our forests are not identical, each individual piece of furniture has its own unique markings. As such you will notice the grain variations that help distinguish each piece as a unique work of art. It is not uncommon to find different grain contrasts in the same piece of solid wood furniture. The lighter grain was closer to the tree’s bark (sapwood) and the darker grain was closer to the tree's center (heartwood). Grain variations and natural markings should not be viewed as flaws. They have absolutely no effect on your furniture's durability or structural integrity. Mineral deposits and other characteristics are much like the nubs you find in fine fabrics such as silk and linen; they are true indications of genuine quality and authenticity. Cheaper furniture that is mass-produced is often made of low quality wood or plastic veneers that have undergone a multi-step chemical process of bleaching, texturizing and staining in order to masque these natural characteristics of wood. At Vermont Woods Studios we prefer the real thing.
Figured Character Woods
Many of our artisans work with extraordinary figured wood boards that have curly, wavy or striped grain as well. If you are looking for this type of character wood, let us know. Tiger maple, curly cherry, birdseye maple, spalted maple and burl woods are just a few of the figured woods we may be able to offer.
Avoidance of Rare Rain Forest Woods
We avoid the use of rare exotic woods that are illegally clear-cut from the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests. Read more about our sustainable forestry and forest conservation efforts.
Natural cherry wood is perhaps the most prized furniture hardwood in America. Easily our most popular seller, cherry is a smooth-grained, reddish-brown hardwood that comes from the American Black Cherry fruit tree.
Cherry is renowned among woodworkers and furniture aficionados for its color and aging process. It starts out a light pink and darkens over time to a rich reddish hue with a lustrous patina.
Black walnut wood is dark, hard, dense and tight-grained. It's prized by woodworkers for its strength, grain and color. It polishes to a very smooth finish, and the color ranges from creamy white in the sapwood to a dark chocolate in the heartwood.
Over the years, natural walnut wood develops a lustrous patina. As the only dark-brown domestic wood species, it has a large following of devoted woodworkers and fine furniture aficionados. Walnut is also found in upscale cabinets, natural wood flooring, kitchen accessories, gunstocks, and more.
Although there are many varieties of walnut trees, just a handful are native to North America. Of them, the Eastern Black Walnut, also called the American Black Walnut or American Walnut, is the one typically used for woodworking.
Sugar Maple (aka Rock Maple or Hard Maple)
Maple wood is incredibly strong and beautiful. Woodworkers and furniture aficionados gravitate towards maple for its light, creamy color, smooth grain pattern, and impressive durability.
Although there are dozens of species of maple trees around the globe, the species most common among American woodworkers is Hard Maple (aka Sugar Maple or Rock Maple).
Sugar maple trees grow abundantly in Vermont and throughout the Northern US and Canada and are also the source of maple sap, the sole ingredient in pure maple syrup.
Red & White Oak
Oak is one of the most popular woods used in furniture and flooring in the US. It’s often found in traditional, craftsman, and mission style furniture and is the wood of choice for the Amish, as well as famed furniture designers Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. Oak is highly durable, easy to work with, and looks great stained or with a clear, natural finish. It’s also one of the most efficient woods to burn due to the high BTU content.
Oak wood comes in a number of hues, but its grain pattern is quite unique, which makes it one of the easier species to recognize. It has a long history of use around the home dating back to pre-colonial times and remains every bit as popular today. While this makes it a mainstay in traditional design, its versatility means that it can also make a modern piece come to life.
One of the reasons why oak can take on so many different looks is that there isn’t a single type of oak tree. There are actually more than 60 varieties growing across the United States alone. When it comes to furniture making and other uses around the home, the most common species are red and white oak. Both are stunning choices and work well in busy homes because of their durability.
Ash is a light colored, smooth-grained hardwood that grows throughout the east coast and parts of Canada. With its typical straight grain and beige-to-light-brown hue, ash wood is a very attractive option for fine furniture. It’s one of the most durable varieties and has an extensive history in American furniture making. It is lightweight, aesthetically pleasing, and absorbs wood stains well. Its characteristics as a lightweight and shock-resistant wood have made it a favorite for baseball bats, tool handles, and restaurant furniture. Today ash is making a splash in home furnishings, particularly in the mid-century modern style.
Fraxinus, the scientific name for ash, is a member of the olive tree family. There are dozens of varieties of ash trees native throughout North America. White ash and green ash are the most prevalent. Both grow abundantly in Vermont, as does black ash.
Birch is a native hardwood that comes from the genus Betula. There are over a dozen species of birch trees native to North America, but the most common are white birch, yellow birch, and black birch. Yellow birch and white birch are the two most commonly found in woodworking.
When birch is mentioned as an option for fine furniture in the United States, it’s typically yellow birch wood, sometimes called golden birch, being referenced. Yellow birch wood is light in color and smooth-grained, not unlike maple wood, although birch tends to yellow more visibly over time.
Chestnut wood doesn’t refer to wood from a single tree, but rather from a family of trees. The most well-known is the American chestnut, which can appear in various shades from a pale white through medium brown, which develops a reddish hue with age.
Once an absolute staple in American lives, the American chestnut was prized for its delicious nuts and impressive wood. Early pioneers appreciated that it was incredibly durable and one of the most rot-resistant options. Many pieces crafted more than 100 years ago are still in existence today. Plus, it grew in great abundance, earning it the title of “redwood of the east.”
Poplar wood is typically a white or creamy yellow hue, though it can be brownish or appear with mineral streaks of various colors in it, referred to as “rainbow poplar.” Although it is used more for utilitarian purposes (it’s more likely to be used for drawers than cabinet fronts or for match sticks than tables), it does occasionally make an appearance in some artisan furniture.
Known for its knotty and rugged look, eastern white pine wood is typically a creamy white color, though it can sometimes have a yellowish hue with the dark knots offering a pleasing contrast.
It doesn’t get much use among craftsmen who build high-end furniture, for floors, or for cabinetry because it picks up dings and scratches easily due to the softness of the wood. However, when scratch-resistance is not a major concern or when someone prefers a more rugged look, pine is a good choice. Moreover, it grows abundantly throughout the eastern half of North America, so there’s ample supply and it tends to be one of the more affordable wood options.
We source reclaimed pine for a few products to offer something for our customers with a ranch or farmhouse, as it’s perfect for creating that rustic cottage feel.