Wood you know my name?
Most commonly types of wood in South Africa used for furniture making in South Africa
When we founded Furniturespot, I could maybe recall three types of wood. But since all your requests keep on coming in, we have learned!
The type of wood you select for your piece of furniture obviously impacts the price of the piece, but also the vibe it expresses and the durability of the furniture. Are you looking for an industrial table? Then you wouldn't select redwood for the table top.
Are you looking for a true eye catcher, then Kiaat might work. Is the item for the kids' room? You might want to go for Rubberwood. And so on and on.
This blog post will tell you all about our most popular types of wood to make furniture in South Africa and how to best use them. Might come in handy the next time you have something made just for you...
South African and Oregon Pine
Pine is a soft, white or pale yellow wood which is light weight, straight grained and lacks figure. We love pine for its light colour and it's natural vibes.
Its characteristic knots give character to your piece without making it look like your aunts heavy antique furniture. Pine resists shrinking and swelling.
You can use pine for almost anything, but we see it most often used for country style furniture. Add some layers of pickled, whitened, painted or oil finishes to get exactly the look you are going for.
And now the best feature of pine wood... It is super affordable! We like! Our very best carpenters love to work with this type of wood too.
A pine forest
Oak - French Oak if you like it fancy...
Oak is the most widely used hardwood. There are more than 60 species of oak, which can be separated into two basic varieties; white and red.
Oak is a heavy, strong, light coloured hardwood. Best feature: It is super durable. If you find a piece of oak furniture made decades ago, you can probably take it home and use it for years. Its prominent rings and large pores give oak a course texture and prominent grain.
You can use this type of wood for literally any style: English country designs, Gothic reproductions, as well as many traditional and contemporary pieces. Our leading furniture makers love to combine oak in combination with steel to give it an industrial look.
Kiaat or African Teak
Did somebody say character? Kiaat is also known as African Teak and has loads of character. You'll typically find it in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The brown heartwood is resistant to borer and termite, is durable and has a pleasing spicy fragrance. The wood polishes well and is well used to make good quality furniture that has an attractive light brownish-yellow colour.
We love Kiaat for its unique pattern and colours. It is one of our most expensive wood types but you'll never regret it! And if you do: Since the wood does not swell or shrink much it is great for canoe building. In case you were wondering...
Rubberwood is a light-coloured tropical hardwood obtained from the rubber tree, usually from trees grown in rubber plantations.
We like rubberwood as it is one of our "environmentally friendly" woods: it makes use of plantation trees that have already served a useful function. Rubberwood has very little shrinkage making it one of the more stable construction materials available for furniture, toys and kitchen accessories.
Major downside: It is not suitable for outdoor use, as rain can leach the protective chemicals from the wood, exposing it to fungus and insect attacks.
Rubberwood is very affordable and it works exceptionally well if you are a fan of Scandinavian design. Our furniture makers use this type of wood often for dining and coffee tables.
Mahogany is a tropical hardwood indigenous to Africa. There are many different grades and species sold under this name, which vary widely in quality and price.
You'll recognise mahogany instantly by its reddish - brown colour. It may display stripe, ribbon, broken stripe, rope, ripple, mottle, fiddle back or blister figures, making it a type of wood with loads of character. Mahogany is an excellent carving wood and finishes well - did you have any ambitions?
Mahogany is used extensively in the crafting of Georgian, Empire and Victorian reproduction furniture due to its antique looks. Popular as ever but with a very specific vibe to it, you either like it or you hate it.
About the author
Whilst studying Engineering, Lizet learned that she could craft anything from scratch. Well, almost anything. Experimenting with paint in bright colours, new floors or building full breakfast bars gets her going. As one of the Founders of Furniturespot.co.za, Lizet is super excited to share her love of local craftsmanship and furniture with her new hometown Johannesburg.