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Woodwork is one of the oldest and most reputable crafts we know, with great skill and artistry attached to it. While it is probably beyond most people’s level of crafting skill to fashion their own furniture – it’s worth knowing your Beech from your Birch – when it comes to picking the right pieces for your home.

Mahogany is a luxurious, dark hardwood that is well known for its use in antique and older furniture. Native to North, Central and South America; mahogany has since been spread to grow around the world.

It is favoured for cabinet and large furniture making, due to the large trunk of its tree. Mahogany is a very hard wood, which makes it more difficult to work with by hand, but also more durable once finished. The straight grain makes it popular in expensive furniture, as does the warm red sheen that appears when polished while its resistance to rot also makes it a favoured (though expensive) material for boats.

Cedar may refer to the wood from a whole family of trees, though the most popular type is Western Red. Mainly harvested in North America, Cedar is the top choice for furniture that needs natural preservation; being very resistant to insects, moisture and temperature. Cedar is one of the few woods that doesn’t warp and change size over time, which makes it very popular in home panelling, along with its ability to absorb sound and insulate well.

Pine is a Scandinavian, light coloured wood that is very popular in less expensive furniture. A lot of flat pack furniture is made from pine because of its fast growth and small space to grow, making it a great material for swift harvest.

Pine is a softwood which is very easy to work with, by hand and machine. It has a natural white finish, which blends nicely with modern household furnishings in aluminium.

Teak is much favoured for its use in outdoor furniture, and has been used such since the 1700’s. Those in India use Teak extensively in their buildings, because of its resistance to heat, moisture and termites. Although hard to work with because of these characteristics, teak’s great strength and tight grain makes it popular in outdoor furniture.  Despite that, teak furniture is used for indoor items especially tables, cabinets and shelving.

The oak tree is a greatly revered plant in the Northern Hemisphere, known for its vast size and long life. Some oaks living today can trace their roots almost five hundred years into the past, though large groves of these ages are now rare.

Oak is a very dense, strong and hard wood; resilient to both fungus and pests. Beams in buildings are often made of oak, taken from the length of the trunk and shaped for structural integrity because of its strength. Today, oak is most commonly used in the flooring of buildings and in furniture making. Although one of its greater uses lies in the storage and ageing of alcohol, including wine, sherry, whisky and brandy.

This article was brought to you by leading furniture retailer Fishpools – stockists of leading brands including Ercol, Calligaris and Duresta.