5 Best Types of Wood for Table Top (Best Species for Wooden Tables)

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When making or buying a table may seem simple, a tabletop mounted on four legs. However, a table is often the focal point of a dining room and the kind of wood you use has a major impact on the look and feel of the table. Apart for choosing a particular style of furniture that will match your personal taste and home, the wood itself is also a key decision.

The type of wood you choose is the most important consideration when making a table. While rustic pine is great for a budget table, high-end tables are usually Walnut, Cherry, or other fruit trees. These types of wood have a nicer grain and dark tones that give the table a premium look, finish well, and are hard durable woods for tables that will last. 

Things To Consider When Making A Table

Wooden dining table (Image: Free-Photos)

Whether you have a dining table, coffee table, or kitchen table, you want to use robust and good quality wood. Apart from quality, the tabletop should also be appealing to the eye. For instance, hardwoods like cherry and walnut make excellent tabletops thanks to their accentuated grain and vibrant color.

The choice of wood and its finish and color also plays a significant role with regards to the décor of a table’s surroundings. For example, if your living room has heavy oak paneling, then you can use a coffee table with a similar tabletop.

If you have modernistic décor in your dining area, then your dining table should match accordingly. For a worktable, you don’t need to worry about aesthetics, but the construction should be solid and of the extremely strong wood.

You can create masterpieces with a good design and the right type of wood and a suitable finish. Hence, let’s get right into some of the best examples of wood for making tables, shall we?

Best Types of Wood for Making Tables

Cherry Wood – The Best Wood For Formal Dining Room Tables

East West Furniture AVT-BLK-TP Butterfly leaf Oval Table - Cherry Table Top Surface and Black Finish Pedestal Legs Hardwood Frame Kitchen Table
Cherry wood table top oval table. See on Amazon.

Cherry wood occupies a prominent place in most homes in America. Being widely available and robust and durable wood, it finds use in a variety of different types of furniture.

As formal dining room furniture, cherry wood leads the list of preferred woods. The fact that it darkens to a warm hue over time, further adds to its popularity. The grain of cherry wood comes out nicely with the right type of stain. Hence, you don’t have to bother with maintaining tablecloths. A tablecloth would only hide the natural beauty of the wood.

Salient Features Of Cherry Wood

  • Appearance: Reddish-Brown
  • Durability: Susceptible to dents and scratches with rough use
  • Hardness: 950 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.38-0.56 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work with, glues well and easily takes screws and nails
  • Cost: Moderately expensive to quite expensive

Walnut Wood – Best For A Modern And Contemporary Dining Room Table

Walker Edison 6 Person Simple Wood Room Kitchen Table Set Dining Chairs, 60 Inch, Walnut Brown
Walker Edison Walnut wood dining set. See on Amazon.

You get rich, creamy-white to dark chocolaty color from the grain of walnut wood. It makes an excellent choice for a contemporary-looking dining table. A walnut dining table will take center stage in your dining space.

Due to its variance in color, you can easily add matching furniture to complement such a table. Because of walnut’s inherent hardness, it is a very durable wood. It can look good for years of heavy use. However, you need to be prepared to spend a tidy sum for any type of walnut furniture.

Salient Features Of Walnut

  • Appearance: Creamy white to a chocolaty brown
  • Durability: Medium-dense, susceptible to denting and scratching
  • Hardness: 1,010 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 1,010 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work with but prone to planer tearout
  • Cost: Expensive to highly-expensive

Hickory Wood – Best For A Table With A Rustic Farmhouse Look

Solid Top Rustic Hickory Dining Table -42" X 60"
Solid Top Rustic Hickory Dining Table. See on Amazon.

If you are looking for a rustic look in wood, then a hickory table is a perfect choice. You can have a rustic-looking dining room table at home, or a picnic table in a lodge in the woods, using hickory. The reddish and cream hues that you get from the hickory is worth the extra money you pay (as it doesn’t come cheap).

Wood with a medium grain, hickory imparts an earthy look to a tabletop. It also has high durability, but due to the high density, it is prone to warping and cracking in humid conditions.

Salient Features Of Hickory

  • Appearance: Light brown with dark brown overtones
  • Durability: Strong wood but prone to warping and cracking in high humidity
  • Hardness: 1820 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.83 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work with but with chances of tearout. Glues well and takes stain readily.
  • Cost: Expensive, but not as expensive as oak or walnut

Pinewood – Best For Making Cost-Effective Tables

HOMCOM 5 Piece Solid Pine Wood Table and High Back Chair Dining Set - White
Pine Wood Table and Chair Dining Set. See on Amazon.

You can get pinewood in almost all the regions of the US. It doesn’t come under any endangered category, and it is one of the cheapest options in wood for tables. The light wood has a pleasant-looking grain, but watch out for knots. If handled properly, the knots in pinewood can enhance its look. It takes polish well, but also looks smart on its own.

Pinewood is very easy to work on and takes nails and screws easily. It also exudes a pleasant, resinous fragrance that adds to the charm of this versatile wood. Due to its reasonable cost, but good looks, you can get a smart table much cheaper than tables made of other costlier wood.

Salient Features Of Pinewood

  • Appearance: Light Brown, with resinous knots
  • Durability: good
  • Hardness: 380 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.42-0.67 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work with. Takes nails and screws well, and it is easy to glue together.
  • Cost: Cheap

Hard Maple – Best For Making A Contemporary Coffee Table

John Boos TNS09 Maple Top Work Table with Stainless Steel Base and Adjustable Stainless Steel Lower Shelf, 60" Long x 30" Wide x 2-1/4" Thick
John Boos Maple Top Work Table. See on Amazon.

The smooth, light grain of hard maple opens some exciting possibilities for designing contemporary furniture. You can make a trendy coffee table to go with your ultra-modern furnishings to create the soothing ambiance that only maple wood can achieve.

Although an extremely light-grained wood, maple enjoys the status of being among the hardest domestic varieties of wood in America. This makes it highly durable, so you get wood that looks good but lasts longer as well. Hard maple is easy to work with, but tends to burn with high-speed cutters like routers.

Salient Features Of Hard Maple

  • Appearance: Creamy-white to a light brown or dark golden brown. Straight grain with a beautiful texture.
  • Durability: Extremely durable
  • Hardness: 1,450 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.6-0.75 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work with
  • Cost: Expensive, but moderately-priced compared to other hardwoods


By now, you will realize that there are many things to consider while making a table. Depending on the purpose that your table is going to serve and where it will be placed, you need to build it accordingly.

The type of wood that you use is also very critical. You can bring out the best in wood by using the correct type of wood for a particular table. And, while you are at it, ensure that the wood is finished appropriately, as well.

It doesn’t matter whether you need a table for your woodworking shop or an elegant piece of art as a center table in your living room. Using the right wood is extremely important. When you have got that figured out, you can have a beautiful table for your work or to sit around at home with your friends and family.


Featured Image by LynnePike