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Oliver Heirloom Furniture Exotic Woods

Here are just a few of the more rare and exotic woods that I have used.
Click any image to see a larger version. (Each sample will open in a new window.)

American Walnut
American Walnut

Shown with a stained finish, walnut is typically dark chocolate brown with tight grain. It is challenging to work with because of the lighter colored sapwood, in solids I have to buy considerably more material than I need to achieve a consistency of color. Machines and finishes beautifully.
Fiddle Back Red Oak
Fiddle Back Red Oak

Shown with a clear finish, fiddle back describes a three-dimensional gross grain figuring which has been used by violinmakers for many years. Cross grain figuring is extremely dramatic when veneers are book-matched.
Honduras Mahogany
Honduras Mahogany

Shown with a stained finish, mahogany is one of the richest woods that I use. It works equally well on contemporary or traditional designs. One of the softer hardwoods can be challenging to work with because of occasional tear out of grain when machined. Also, worm- holes (not apparent until the material is milled) can turn a very expensive piece of wood into scrap. When these trees are felled, the impact can create hairline gross grain fractures ( not structural defects but still unacceptable). Not as stable as some of the woods that I use, it tends to twist when machined. All of these challenges mean that I incur more waste and expense but I still promote it as one of the best choices for furniture.
Brazilian Kewazinga
Brazilian Kewazinga

Shown with a clear finish, this exotic three-dimensional grain is achieved when Brazilian bubinga is cut in a rotary or half round fashion. Of the exotics that I have used, this is the wildest grain of all!
Pomelle Macore
Pomelle Macore

Shown with a clear finish, this is an exotic from South Africa. Pomelle is French for "blistered" or "cloudlike". The three dimensional grain and it's dark, rich color make it one of the most dramatic woods that I have used. Very rare, I have been looking for a comparable log for years.
Pomelle Sapele
Pomelle Sapele

Shown with a clear finish, this African exotic has a three-dimensional "peanut" shaped grain that can take on the appearance of reptile skin. Itís rich color combines well with stained mahogany.
Brazilian Purple Heart
Brazilian Purple Heart

Shown with a clear finish, its color is so dark and rich that its grain is not always real apparent. Considered trash wood in its native land, can be used very successfully in contemporary design. Extremely hard and heavy, is difficult to machine without burning. Splinters are a real problem until wood is finished. Should never be used when exposure to strong sunlight is unavoidable. UV will alter color significantly.
Quartered White Oak
Quartered White Oak

Shown with a clear finish, quartering log reveals distinctive "rays" or iridescent flakes. Used in traditional furniture and church millwork for many years. It is very challenging to find enough highly figured quarter sawn oak because of the loss of old growth trees. Small diameter trees and the greater waste of quartering means narrow widths and fewer and smaller flakes.
Quilted Birdseye Maple
Quilted Birdseye Maple

Shown with a clear finish, this is a North American exotic. Background three-dimensional figuring with the distinctive "eye" makes for a subtle but dramatic look. I usually specify a clear finish for most exotics- the depth of the grain would be lost if stained.
Quilted Maple
Quilted Maple

Shown with a clear finish, this log has an amazing three-dimensional cloudlike pattern that is strong! A North American exotic, no one is really sure what causes grain like this. I have used the cloudlike grain in other exotics but never in a blonde wood. Stunning when used in contemporary design.
Redwood Burl
Redwood Burl

Shown with a clear finish, unusual grain looks like intricate veins of amazing detail. Typical of burls, size of veneers is small so book matching and butt matching is necessary to achieve large panels.
African Mahogany
African Mahogany

Shown with stained finish, this is named for its dramatic straight grain. Used successfully in contemporary design. Solid stock has same challenges as Honduras mahogany, tear out, wormholes and fracture lines.




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Last updated February 20, 2014

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