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What Is the Best Wood for Picture Frames? (With Pictures)

Picture Frame Table

Picture frames are great projects for beginner and experienced woodworkers. They are useful and can provide you with plenty of experience that will be helpful for other projects. But what type of wood works best for picture frames? Several types of wood will work well, though the type that you should choose will depend on your needs. Keep reading as we list the most common woods to use for these projects and go over the reasons that people choose them.divider 1

The 12 Best Wood for Picture Frames

1. Poplar

Poplar is the softest hardwood, and it’s easy to find in the eastern United States. It’s inexpensive and easy to work with, so it’s a great choice for beginners. Its light color also works well with stains, and many people use it when they intend to apply a veneer.

2. Maple

different kinds of maple wood
Image Credit: optimarc, Shutterstock

Maple is an extremely attractive hardwood that is an excellent choice for a decorative picture frame. It takes stain well and sands easily, but it’s a little more expensive and harder to work than poplar, so it’s better suited for an experienced woodworker.

3. Ash

Ash is a tree that is native to the eastern United States, so it’s relatively inexpensive, making it a great choice for beginners. It has an attractive grain and is extremely durable. Most baseball bats are a type of ash.

4. Cherry

A stack of cherry wood tied up
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Cherry is an inexpensive wood that you can find growing all across the eastern United States. It’s softer than many of the other woods on this list, so it’s easy to work with and perfect for beginners, but it’s hard enough to withstand years of wear and tear. It takes stain well, but many people leave it with its natural finish, which tends to darken over time.

5. Mahogany

Mahogany is an imported word from South America that is easy to work with, so it’s perfect for beginners. It also has a reddish-brown color that looks good as a picture frame.

6. Fishtail Oak

Oak wood lumber drying in the sun
Image Credit: JumpStory

Fishtail oak is a popular choice due to its extreme durability and impressive weight. However, it’s imported from Asia and South America, so it’s a bit more expensive than native varieties. It can also be difficult to sand and work with, so it’s not suited to beginners.

7. European Beech

As the name suggests, European beech is an imported wood. It’s easier to work with and has grain similar to mahogany. You can stain it in many different colors and it always looks fantastic, so it’s a great choice for beginners and experienced woodworkers who can afford it.

8. Padauk

African Padauk Wood
African Padauk Wood (image Credit: Ragesoss, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Padauk is an imported wood from Southeast Asia with a purplish red color that many people love for the way that it accents pictures displayed in the final frame. However, besides its high cost, it’s vulnerable to ultraviolet light, which can darken its color.

9. Birdseye Maple

Birdseye maple is great for a picture frame wood. It has a unique wood grain that looks like floating eyes, which is where it gets its name. Since this type of wood is rare, it can be quite expensive, so it’s better suited for experienced woodworkers who can put it to the best use.

10. Tiger Maple

curly maple woods
Image Credit: optimarc, Shutterstock

Tiger maple is a popular variety of maple used to make picture frames. It has an attractive grain that resembles a tiger’s stripes, which is where it gets its name. Like birdseye maple, it can be an expensive choice due to the rare pattern that it possesses, but it is otherwise identical to regular maple in terms of strength, weight, color, etc.

11. Quartersawn Oak

Quartersawn oak is an attractive wood resulting from a cutting technique used to create it. It has a unique pattern of decorative rays that looks fantastic in a picture frame. However, the culling process is more wasteful than other methods, so this wood tends to be more expensive.

12. Walnut

table made of walnut wood
Image Credit: Pavel Vaschenkov, Shutterstock

Walnut is a heavy and strong wood that’s great for making picture frames. It has grain similar to mahogany and a dark color that many people enjoy. It finishes well and looks especially good with a dark stain.

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As you can see, quite a few woods are perfect for creating picture frames, and the type that you choose will depend on your needs. If you are a beginner starting one of your first projects, we highly recommend poplar or cherry, as these woods are fairly inexpensive and easy to work with and look great. If you have more experience, maple, walnut, and mahogany make great choices because they are attractive and tend to hold up well over time. Experienced users might choose one of the expensive woods, like birdseye maple, to create a picture frame to put up for sale.

Featured Image Credit: Peshkova, Shutterstock


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