Wood types

When it comes to antique European furniture, a distinction is usually made first and foremost between solid wood furniture and veneered furniture.

Antique furniture made of solid wood

Solid wood is divided into softwood - e.g. spruce or pine; hardwood - usually oak; and fine wood - e.g. cherry, walnut or mahogany.

The most widespread solid wood furniture in Germany was made of softwood or oak. However, there are also antiques made of solid precious woods, such as furniture made of solid cherry or walnut, which often come from France, or furniture made of solid birch, which was mainly manufactured in Scandinavia.

Veneered furniture

Every piece of antique veneered furniture is, of course, based on solid wood. This means that the base material for the veneer applied later was of course solid wood, e.g. oak or pine.

The veneer was then glued onto the solid wood. Many pieces of furniture were veneered with European woods such as ash, cherry or pear, but the expensive tropical woods such as mahogany or rosewood were also very popular.

Determining the region on the basis of the types of wood

On the basis of the types of wood used and their combinations with each other, conclusions can be drawn about the region from which the piece of furniture originated.
Of course, there are exceptions, but a piece of furniture veneered in mahogany on oak is more likely to have come from the northern German or Dutch regions. Walnut veneered on fir was more common in southern Germany or Austria. A cabinet made of solid chestnut tends to point to France, and solid ornamental bark pine to the Alpine region.

However, all of these assessments must also be consistent with the design features, craftsmanship and construction of the furniture, which is common in the region, in order to be able to determine the region.

Here are some common types of wood:

European hardwoods:
-Maple
-Apple tree
-Birch
-Pear tree
-Beech
-Oak
-Ash
-Chestnut
-Cherry
-Walnut
-Olive wood
-Plum

European softwoods:
-spruce/fir
-Douglas fir
-pine
-larch
-Cedar

Tropical woods:
-Ebony
-Limba
-Mahogany
-Meranti
-Padouk
-Palisander
-Teak

Column

Columns can be found on antique furniture from almost every era. They flank the drawers of chests of drawers and writing furniture or actually have a supporting function in the form of table legs.


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Thread inlay / Thread insert

A thread inlay is a linear, thin inlay of a wood of contrasting colour.


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