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27 Common Types of Wood Grain Patterns (With Pictures)

Poplar wood planks

There are hundreds of species of trees on this planet, each with its own unique colors and patterns. Some are sought after for their beauty, and others are prized for their strength. Below, we’ve compiled an extensive list of some of the most common and not-so-common wood grain patterns. Whether you’re interested in getting into woodworking or want to learn more about the trees around you, there’s bound to be something interesting on this list.

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The 27 Common Types of Wood Grain Patterns

1. Rosewood

Genus: Dalbergia
Common Names: Rosewood, Bahia rosewood, Brazilian rosewood
Common Uses: Guitars, furniture, luxury flooring

Numerous rosewood species are grown in different areas of the world, and their color can range from red and burgundy to light brown. Rosewood has a pleasant fragrance when cut, and because of the characteristic smell, Rose Mahogany is often incorrectly referred to as a Rosewood due to having a similar scent when cut.

2. Teak

Teak Butcher Block
Image Credit: Vince Reilly, Shutterstock
Genus: Tectona
Common Names: Teak, Burmese teak
Common Uses: Boat decking, cutting boards, outdoor furniture

This tropical hardwood is prized for its natural resistance to water. As a result, it’s commonly used in boat decks and other outdoor applications such as furniture, carvings, and exterior finishing. This durable wood can be finished with oil or a clear coat. It can also be left unfinished and has a lifespan that most other wood cannot match.

3. White Oak

Genus: Quercus
Common Names: White oak
Common Uses: Wine and whiskey barrels, interior finishing, Japanese martial arts weapons

White oak is a domestic hardwood found mostly in eastern and central North America. Its name comes from the light finished product and its light color. However, sometimes even the bark is white. Because of its water resistance, white oak is commonly used in outdoor applications or barrels for wine and whiskey.

4. Red Oak

red oak wood
Image Credit: guillermocinque, Pixabay
Genus: Quercus
Common Names: Red oak
Common Uses: High-value lumber, veneer

As another native to North America, red oak is found in many of the same places as white oak. In addition, it was introduced into parts of Europe. A distinguishing feature of red oak is its bark, with ridges with stripes in the center. The wood is red-brown and has a coarse grain. As an interior finishing wood, red oak is incredible. It can also be used in furniture building after proper treatment.

5. Padauk

A --bonsai-- stand made from African Padauk wood 2013-06-02 13-19
A –bonsai– stand made from African Padauk wood 2013-06-02 13-19 (Image Credit: Ragesoss, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Genus: Pterocarpus
Common Names: African padauk, vermillion
Common Uses: Decorative woodworking projects

Padauk is a stunning wood with a unique orange-red color, when initially cut, that fades to a nice brown after exposure to the sun. It’s valued for its decorative appeal and durability. Because of its unique color, it’s often used in various small woodworking projects, such as cutting boards or charcuterie boards.

6. Ebony

ebony wood
Image Credit: Thichaa, Shutterstock
Genus: Diospyros
Common Names: Gaboon ebony, African ebony, Nigerian ebony, Cameroon ebony
Common Uses: Small decorative items such as musical instrument parts or carvings

Ebony is a one-of-a-kind wood named for its black or dark brown color. This gorgeous wood needs no stain to give it character. Sadly, many types of ebony trees are endangered because of unsustainable harvesting. As a result, quantities of this gorgeous wood are limited. Hence its modern use is in small decorative woodworking projects.

7. Makore

Genus: Tieghemella
Common Names: Makore, douka, cherry mahogany
Common Uses: Interior/exterior finishing, boat building, cabinets

Another name for makore is cherry mahogany due to its sometimes pinkish to red-brown color. However, it’s not genuine mahogany. Usually, this wood has a fine, straight grain, but sometimes it features a decorative, wavy appearance in the grain too. This wood is sought after for its excellent durability, making it an excellent choice for exterior finishing and marine applications such as boat building.

8. Mahogany

mahogany wood texture
Image Credit: jessicuak, Pixabay
Genus: Swietenia
Common Names: Santos mahogany, cabreuva
Common Uses: Decorative woodworking, furniture

This beautiful red-brown wood has many imitators that have a similar color. But genuine mahogany has a smooth, straight grain and is a widely available hardwood. It is nice to work with and has a beautiful and unique red sheen when polished. This sheen and its durability make it popular for furniture such as chairs and tables. Due to its immense popularity, genuine mahogany is expensive.

9. Acacia

Acacia koaia wood
Acacia koaia wood (Image Credit: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia CC 2.5 Generic)
Genus: Acacia
Common Names: Mimosa, acacia, thorn tree, wattle
Common Uses: Furniture, ornamental

This extremely dense wood is one of the hardest hardwoods and, as a result, can be challenging to work with. It is very durable and naturally resistant to water and insects, which makes it good for furniture. Acacia wood ranges from light brown to dark red with wavy, coarse patterns in the grain. Even though it’s challenging to work with, acacia finishes nicely—stained or polished.

10. Sycamore

Genus: Platanus
Common Names: American sycamore, western plane, buttonwood
Common Uses: Butcher’s blocks, boxes, crates

Sycamore wood is similar and can be mistaken for maple, depending on the cut. It’s typically light brown with red streaks and coarse-grained. It isn’t prized for its beauty but has many practical uses, such as crates and pallets. Sometimes the best cuts are used to make inexpensive wooden furniture.

11. Ash

Genus: Fraxinus
Common Names: Ash
Common Uses: Tool handles, bows, baseball bats

Ash does well in applications that require abuse, such as tools and baseball bats. When it comes to looks, it’s similar in appearance to white oak. However, it often has a white striated grain much more pronounced than oak. Most woodworkers would choose oak if given a choice because ash is limited to being used indoors.

12. Balsa

balsa wood
Image Credit: Zephyr_p, Shutterstock
Genus: Ochroma
Common Names: Balsa
Common Uses: Whittling, surfboards

While balsa is one of the softest woods globally, it is still considered a hardwood. Hardwood and softwood classification are decided by the tree’s reproduction, not its density. Due to how soft and easily worked balsa is, it’s popular for whittling or carving. It is also used in surfboards where being light and buoyant is critical. It has a rough, open grain and a light brown color with dark streaks.

13. Beech

Beech Butcher Block
Image Credit: Bits and Splits, Shutterstock
Genus: Fagus
Common Names: Beech
Common Uses: Firewood, drums, gun stocks, cabinets

This reddish-brown wood makes excellent firewood and is also commonly used in meat-smoking applications. It has a straight, fine grain and is easily worked, so it is also popular for woodworking applications. Overall, the different species of beech are all durable. However, they are susceptible to insect damage.

14. Cedar

Natural Brown Cedar Wood
Image Credit: Anthony Paz, Shutterstock
Genus: Cedrus
Common Names: Cedar
Common Uses: Outdoor furniture, outdoor finishing, decks

Cedar is extremely popular due to its natural resistance to water and insect damage. It also finishes nicely and gives off a unique scent that most people immediately recognize. Depending on the species, cedar usually has a deep red or brown color and darkens over time when exposed to the sun.

15. Hard Maple

maple hardwood flooring
Image Credit: jactod, Pixabay
Genus: Acer
Common Names: Hard maple, sugar maple
Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, gym floors, cabinets

Because of its wide availability and incredible durability, hard maple is prevalent in many applications, especially those that see a lot of abuse, such as gym floors. The color of hard maple varies from light to dark red-brown and generally features a fine, straight grain. Another reason that this wood is so popular is that it is easy to work with and it stains well.

16. Anigre

Genus: Pouteria
Common Names: Anigre, anegre, aniegre, aningeria
Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture

An interesting feature of anigre is that some say it smells similar to cedar when freshly cut. Color-wise, it’s usually yellowish-brown and darkens noticeably with age. It’s relatively easy to work with. However, it sometimes contains high levels of silica, which quickly dulls tools. Anigre is often sliced thin and sold as a veneer for furniture and plywood.

17. Spruce

Spruce wood (2)
Spruce wood (2) (Image Credit: Angela Huster, Wikimedia Commons CCO 1.0 Universal)
Genus: Picea
Common Names: Spruce, whitewood
Common Uses: Building lumber, soundboards for musical instruments, paper

One of the most common woods used in interior construction is spruce, and it’s also widely used in paper manufacturing. It doesn’t vary in color much; it’s typically yellowish-white with a fine, straight grain. Due to being relatively soft and plain in appearance, spruce isn’t commonly used in anything where it’s the focal point.

18. Birch

Birch Cabinet
Image Credit: Artazum, Shutterstock
Genus: Betula
Common Names: Yellow birch, white birch, black birch, northern birch
Common Uses: Toothpicks, plywood, shelving

There are many varieties of birch, such as yellow birch, northern birch, and bog birch. One of the most common variations we see used by woodworkers is yellow birch. It is generally pale white to yellow with some reddish-brown variations and has a fine, straight grain. However, some cuts showcase a more wavy or curly grain.

19. Pine

Pine deck
Image Credit: Merio, Pixabay
Genus: Pinus
Common Names: Pine, sugar pine, Christmas tree
Common Uses: Construction, paper

Pine is the silent warrior of construction and paper, and in North America, its uses are often underappreciated. It is widely used in many construction applications, such as residential homes or shops. Its pulp is also commonly used to make paper. Generally, pine is light brown to yellow and features a wavy, coarse grain. It is not a particularly nice-looking wood, but it makes for reliable structural lumber.

20. Cherry

Cherry Butcher Block
Image Credit: Ryry, Shutterstock
Genus: Prunus
Common Names: Black cherry, Brazilian cherry, sweet cherry
Common Uses: Furniture, cabinets, flooring

Cherry is highly sought-after for its incredible natural beauty. It is popular in furniture and flooring, where a high-end, elegant finish is desired. It typically has a pink to a rich reddish-brown color and a fine wavy or curly grain. Like many other types of wood, cherry’s color will darken and deepen over time.

21. Elm

Elm wood grain
Elm wood grain (Image Credit: Elm wood grain, Tom elm, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Genus: Ulmus
Common Names: American Elm, elm
Common Uses: Furniture, boxes, paper

The elm is native to North America and Western Europe. It is commonly used in indoor furniture, and almost every elm species are used heavily in paper manufacturing. Generally, it has a light to medium reddish-brown color, but depending on the part of the tree, it can also be more of a pale white. The grain pattern is usually finely woven and smooth.

22. Greenheart

Genus: Chlorocardium
Common Names: Greenheart, cogwood, bibiru
Common Uses: Marine applications, construction

Due to its incredible durability and natural resistance to water, greenheart is often used in marine construction applications. However, it is hard to work with, so special tools are needed, and as a result, it’s not prevalent everywhere. It has a unique pale green color, dark streaks, and a straight, interlocked grain.

23. Bamboo

Bamboo cutting board surface texture 2014 02
Bamboo cutting board surface texture 2014 02 (Image Credit: Julian Herzog, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Genus: Poaceae
Common Names: Bamboo
Common Uses: Cutting boards, tables, flooring

Bamboo goes through much more production to turn it into usable boards. If left natural, it is usually a pale yellow color. Some manufacturers will add color to make the boards darker. Bamboo is becoming quite popular because of how fast it grows and its sustainable harvesting.

24. Bubinga

Genus: Guibourtia
Common Names: Bubinga, kevazingo
Common Uses: Veneer, cabinetry, furniture

It may have a funny name, but that doesn’t stop this imported African hardwood from being any less popular. Typically, bubinga has a straight, interlocked grain that is fine to medium textured. Its color can range from pinkish-red to brown. Because it is so similar to rosewood, it is often used in its place since it is a cheaper option.

25. Hickory

Wood flooring made of hickory wood
Wood flooring made of hickory wood (Image Credit: Loadmaster, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Genus: Carya
Common Names: Hickory
Common Uses: Tool handles, wheel spokes, flooring, cooking

Usually, hickory has a straight, medium grain; its color is typically light brown, sometimes with reddish tints. It’s not a particularly nice-looking wood, but sometimes it is used in woodworking. However, it is tough and dense, which lends itself to practical uses where durability is beneficial. Another common use is meat smoking due to the unique flavor it adds.

26. Eastern Hemlock

Genus: Tsuga
Common Names: Eastern hemlock, Canadian hemlock
Common Uses: Construction, pallets, crates

Due to its abundant supply, eastern hemlock is a primary choice for construction lumber in North America. It is similar in its appearance to pine but a little more reddish-brown. It’s rarely used in any application where it’s the star, but it makes good structural lumber. However, as a tree, the Eastern Hemlock has ornamental value.

27. Zebrawood

Genus: Brazzavillensis
Common Names: Zebrawood, Zebrano
Common Uses: Veneer, boatbuilding, furniture

Possibly one of the most unique-looking woods on this list is zebrawood. It is generally a light brown color, but it is characterized by dark brown or black streaks reminiscent of zebra stripes. It is typically pricey but not as high-priced as ebony or rosewood. It is a very durable hardwood, so it is suitable for many applications and prized for its unique pattern.

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This list is far from comprehensive. There are hundreds of species of wood on this planet, and even within many of the woods listed, there are numerous variations. Working in a cabinet shop, I’ve come across some interesting pieces that don’t quite fit any species. It truly takes a trained eye to distinguish wood grain patterns accurately.

Featured Image Credit: Dimmo, Shutterstock


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