It is a classic American wood. The most common type of tree in the United States.
Oak is the heaviest and hardest wood we offer (although the Cherry and Mahogany are pretty close). If your question is "What is the most durable table I can buy?" The answer is oak.
Oak also has a very prominent and pronounced grain. The wide grain soaks up stain to make the pattern even more dominate. This pattern is the thing that people either love or hate about oak. To its fan, the distinctive pattern is the hallmark of quality. To its distractors, its a little too much.
It's got the word knotty in the name. So what do you think is its defining feature?
Knotty Alder varies greatly. This gives it a rustic look. One section of the table can be completely smooth and then later a gnarly knot will stare back at you. It's a wood and a table that don't mind sharing their character with you.
One of the great things about alder is that it will really accept the stain. This means that its color can be changed by the stain more than other woods. From a really light gold to a dark black, alder will do whatever you ask it. In fact, the "special stain" on alder is our most popular options. It puts a real modern twist on alder.
Alder is the softest wood we offer. It is still more than strong enough to build a solid table that is meant to last. However, it will show more "character marks" over time that other wood. As chairs and silverware press into it, over time you might find some little indentations that add to the rustic look.
If you take the same wood and cut it a different direction, you can get a completely different look. Quarter Sawn Oak is oak, so all the benefits of oak are there, like strength and hardness. In fact, quartersawing can provide a more stable grain pattern that is less prone to flexing and shrinking as the weather and humidity change (which all wood does to some degree).
Traditionally, boards are cut from the log by taking the whole log and slicing off layer after layer. Think of the meat slicer at your local deli. When making quartersawn board, the log is first cut into four wedges. A slice is taken off one side of the wedge, then the board is flipped and a slice is taken off the other side of the wedge. This process insures that the grain will always runs perpendicular to the board face.
What does that mean? It means that the wood looks really different. It has straight grain, and characterstic "flecks". These flecks are little spots or lines that dot the wood (sometimes I think they look like tunnels) and give quartersawn oak its character.
Antique furniture was often made from quartersawn wood. If you've looked at older furniture and couldn't quite place your finger on what made it look different, there's a good chance you were looking at quartersawn wood.
When I run my hand across the rail on a cherry table, the thing that always stands out to me is the smoothness. The grain in oak and the knots in alder give the wood some real texture. But cherry is so smooth.
Cherry has a straight grain. And a rich color that can border on red. Cherry is a very popular wood in high end furniture because of the grain pattern. It isn't a grain that screams, but it is a beauty that you will notice when sitting at the table.
Cherry has one unique property. It will darken over time as it is exposed to light. Over the first year, you can expect a noticeable darkening of the wood. It's cool to see the table kind of grow into its final self. Because of this darkening, it is important not to leave placemats or centerpieces on a cherry table for long periods of time. If you do, the covered areas won't darken, but the rest of the table will and you will end up with a ghost shadow left on the table.
Our newest offering and the only imported wood we offer.
Naturally it it has a light red/brown color. Sometimes almost pink, with darker brown stripes.The striping pattern can give your table a lot of character when it is finished, but it's subtle enough to not be overbearing. African Mahogany has tight pores and very few knots.
African Mahogany takes a stain magnificently, so it is available in a wide variety of colors, from a very light unstained color, to our special stain which will make your table almost black, to the carrington stain that draws out the woods red color. Sometimes Mahogany can reflect light in such a way that it changes shades based on your viewing angle.