Choosing the perfect grain pattern in woodworking is just as important as selecting the correct paints for your masterpiece.
Because once you’ve bought a log, you can’t change its grain pattern no matter how much you sand or polish it.
So, to help you explore and select the best one, we’ve made a list of every wood grain pattern we could find.
Let’s get started:
Table of Contents
1. Red Oak
One of the most popular hardwoods on the planet, Red Oak is commonly used in furniture due to its strength and porous nature that can be stained in any shade. The wood has a chocolatey brown color with hues of red, and either a straight or wavy grain pattern. Most of the lines are quite wide and have a darker brown shade than the rest of the wood.
While the beautiful color and grain pattern of Red Oak is versatile on its own, the wood is more popular for its robustness and high bending strength. Furniture and floorings made from this wood are incredibly durable and can last a long time. You can see red oak furniture more commonly throughout the USA and Canada as the tree is native to the eastern seaboard.
2. White Oak
Although white oak is a close relative of the red oak, it is noticeably stronger and more expensive than the latter. The grain pattern on white oak is more subtle and consists of straight brown lines. Because the wood is slightly less porous than red oak, it can be polished right away to make its natural color shine. But if you prefer a darker shade, white oak will accept stain just as readily.
The distinguishing feature of white oak is that it’s bendable and more resistant to scratching and water stains. With some steaming, the wood can be molded into various shapes to craft boats and barrels. It’s also perfectly suitable for making cabinetry, veneers, and other delicate woodcraft.
3. Brazilian Rosewood
Many expensive guitars and instruments you see today have one thing in common — they’re made out of Brazilian rosewood. The hardwood is highly revered for its acoustic properties and deep reddish-brown color. It typically has a mixed grain pattern with a combination of straight, spiral, and wavy black veins running across the surface. As for the texture, Brazilian wood has a porous nature and medium to coarse texture.
So much is the demand for this wood that it has become illegal to export it outside of Brazil to protect its rapidly depleting population. This has also made it one of the most expensive and sought-after wood types on the market. Another excellent property of Brazilian rosewood is that it’s easy to work with and readily accepts staining with its pores.
One of the most recognizable features of cedar is its aromatic smell that resembles a high-quality aftershave. However, the wood is known for more than just that. Its beautiful straight grain pattern with dark blotches and fine texture gives the wood a raw and organic look. When cut from the heartwood, cedar has a pinkish-red color with hues of purple, while its sapwood is typically pale yellow.
But that’s not the only reason why cedar is so popular amongst outdoor furniture and fixtures. The wood is naturally weatherproof and resists insects and decay surprisingly well. It’s also quite durable, lightweight, and brittle. With a bit of treatment to protect it against sun exposure, cedar becomes an ideal material for home construction, fences, patio furniture, decks, and other outdoor fixtures and fittings.
Millions of people buy spruce trees each year to decorate their houses for Christmas. But apart from just decoration, the wood from this tree is also one of the best in the construction business. That’s because it has a simple yet versatile grain pattern, excellent workability, and significant strength for how much it weighs.
Its Norwegian species has a pale-yellowish color with straight brown streaks and tiny pores that give it a smooth texture. On the contrary, the wood does not accept staining as well. It is also susceptible to decay and rotting, but once you treat it properly, it works perfectly as beams and pillars to support roofs during construction.
6. White Ash
If you’ve ever had a baseball bat, chances are it was made from this wood. White ash, like other hardwoods, is dominant in the eastern USA and is known for its practicality. The wood is slightly harder than oak but incredibly easy to mold, glue, stain, and cut using machines. This can mostly be credited to its straight grain and large pores. In terms of color, White ash can range from a very light beige to light brown, and has a coarse texture similar to oak.
One notable feature of White ash is that it can resist shock quite well. That’s why you often see this wood being used for making hammers and baseball bats. Planks of white ash also cost much less than other hardwoods in the USA.
Two things about the Poplar make it one of the most desirable woods in the USA; its low price and superb workability. The trees are abundant in the eastern side of North America and offer excellent value for their price. Though in terms of appearance, they’re usually not the most attractive of hardwoods and have a basic pale color with straight grain.
Instead, where Poplar actually shines is utility. The wood responds well to cutting, turning, and gluing, which is why many woodworkers use it to craft everyday items like crates and frames for furniture. The only downside to Poplar is its softness and sensitivity to denting, so it might not be suitable for expensive furniture without being overlayed by a stronger veneer.
8. American Chestnut
Once acclaimed for their durability and beautiful appearance, American Chestnut has almost become extinct today due to a fungus that wiped out nearly 3 billion of their population during the 1900s. The wood from these trees normally has a straight grain but can also be interlocked or spiral. Its heartwood has a medium brown color that darkens with age, with relatively large pores and a coarse texture.
Because mature American chestnut trees are almost extinct these days, their lumber is rarely available and costs several grands. Instead, you can buy the reclaimed version of this wood called Wormy Chestnut, which is salvaged from old barns and has tiny holes.
9. English Walnut
In the world of gun woods, English walnut has been the top choice for centuries. The wood is recognized for its stunning chocolatey-brown shade and comes in multiple grain patterns. Flat and curled grains are most common in English walnut, but many woodworkers seek the more-exotic burled and crotched grain planks because of their greater demand and higher prices.
Another excellent feature of this wood is that it glues and finishes quite well, making it ideal for producing specialty furniture. It is also quite receptive to staining, though it is rarely required because of the wood’s stunning natural shade. Unfortunately, all of this doesn’t come cheap, and you will have to splurge a little to acquire a full block of this lumber.
When it comes to making cabinetry, most carpenters look towards Cherry — or more specifically, Black Cherry. The species is native to North America and is revered as one of the finest hardwoods for crafting cabinets and furniture. From its appearance, cherry looks identical to other high-quality hardwoods with a reddish-brown color and decent amount of natural luster.
However, what makes cherry a fan favorite is its outstanding workability. Since the wood is typically straight-grained, it is much easier to cut and sand with machines. Even though it is slightly difficult to stain, the natural color and strong grain pattern of cherry make it look marvelous without additional modifications. Add to that easy availability and reasonable prices, and you have one of the best cabinetry woods at your disposal.
Most utility woods either lack strength or compromise on workability. However, the American Beechwood dominates both aspects at nearly the same cost as others in its category. It sports a delightful cream color with hues of gold and a distinct straight grain pattern. The wood is quite dense (hence its strength) and has small pores, but still responds well to steam-bending and can easily be glued or machined.
On the downside, Beechwood is susceptible to insect attacks and decaying if subjected to moisture. Therefore, it is more suitable for making cabinetry, plywood, kitchen tops, and other indoor furniture. Plus, it is difficult to find wood that is affordable yet strong as beech wood.
Like any rare wood, Mahogany has also become a rare option in markets today because of its extensive logging. It is naturally a very dense and strong wood with a beautiful pinkish-brown color. Mahogany also comes in various grain patterns, such as straight, curly, and interlocked. Once cut, the wood shows beautiful patterns with wavy streaks and a moderate sheen.
Unfortunately, the wood was under-utilized and rapidly cut down for many years until it almost became extinct. Therefore, Cuba banned the export of its Mahogany after 1946 to preserve the species. Today, it is extremely difficult to find, let alone purchase Cuban Mahogany. Luckily, close alternatives like the Honduran Mahogany will allow you to experience the beauty and spectacular patterns of this wood species.
Belonging to the tropical forests of South Asia, Teak is considered one of the most durable and decay-resistant lumbers in the world. Its tree can grow up to a staggering 130-feet tall and is known to have unmatchable resistance to insects, decaying, and water. The wood itself features a spectacular golden-brown color in either straight, wavy, or interlocked grain patterns.
Even though teak has a high oil content, it glues very easily and can be turned or finished effortlessly. All of these properties make this wood an ideal material for building boats and yachts. However, all of this comes at a significant cost as teak is one of the priciest woods on the market.
Despite being known as the ‘cheap’ wood, Pine carries a decent amount of strength and a grain pattern that’s truly unique. Its rustic look comes from contrasting growth rings and fewer pores, giving it a very strong grain pattern. Most woodworkers use its heartwood, which has a light brown color with hints of red between the rings, while the sapwood tends to be a light pale color.
Makore is one of the stronger imported hardwoods that originates from Africa. It’s known for being incredibly durable and frequently appears with figured grain patterns, like mottled and curly. The natural color of the wood is medium reddish-brown with hues of pink, with a smooth texture that creates a beautiful natural shine.
Because Makore is available at reasonable prices in markets worldwide, it is often used for making high-end furniture, instruments, cabinetry, and sometimes veneers. However, it’s not as easy on cutting equipment as other hardwoods. Makore has a particularly high silica content and can dull iron blades rapidly. Fortunately, it glues well and the heartwood can be turned without much effort.
16. Hard Maple
Also known as Sugar Maple, this lumber is derived from the same tree from which we get maple syrup. It is commonly found near the North-eastern side of the USA and is treasured for its versatile sapwood. The sapwood of this tree has a white to creamy-white color and usually comes with a straight grain pattern, though it is not rare to see figured patterns as well.
But the thing that makes it a highly popular choice of wood, especially in the USA, is its easy availability and superior strength. The species is not endangered and can be found at modest prices across the country. Unlike some hardwoods, working with hard maple is also a breeze, and the wood turns and glues without much trouble. That’s why you frequently see it being used in bowling alleys, basketball courts, baseball bats, and guitar necks.
Another renowned utility wood in the US — Hemlock is widely used in the construction industry to build frames and general items like boxes and crates. It has a simple straight grain and comes in a rough texture, which is why you rarely see it in expensive ornaments. While the wood itself can sustain a lot of weight, it isn’t very durable in the long term and can fall victim to insect attacks.
Gluing, finishing, and staining the wood is also very convenient and easy. The wood has a medium brown to light pale colored sapwood, but the heartwood is a little darker. One of the downsides to this wood is that it can contain black marks or streaks caused by maggots in the tree.
Zebrano is one of the most beautiful exotic woods in the world that is commonly found in expensive furniture and contemporary designer homes. It has a very distinctive striped pattern that looks like the skin of a zebra, with alternating rows of brown and black. The grain is either wavy or interlocked, and the true beauty of Zebrano appears when it’s quarter sawed.
Despite its stunning looks, the wood can be difficult to work with as its grain pattern can cause tearouts while sawing. It’s also a large-pored wood and has to be finished with a filler to prevent decaying or insect damage. Veneers of Zebrano are commonly used in premium cars, yachts, gun stocks, and as furniture inlays. Although Zebrano isn’t endangered, it is being harvested at a rapid pace and is becoming rarer and more expensive by the day.
19. Yellow Cedar
Also known as Alaskan Yellow Cedar, this wood is named after its pale-yellowish color. However, it is more famously known for being one of the most robust commercial woods on the planet. Being straight-grained, the wood saws effortlessly and can be finished, stained, and glued in various fashions and styles.
Besides that, yellow cedar is also particularly resistant to pest attacks and decay but can develop a dull color if left outside for long. Considering these properties, it is easy to assume that the wood fetches a high price tag compared to other utility lumber. It is commonly used for boatbuilding, floorings, and musical instruments.
Sycamore falls under the category of lacewood, a name given to tree species with a prominent freckled grain pattern. It also goes by the name of American plane, and is usually quarter sawn to make the figured pattern becomes visible. Since the wood is also easy to work with and finish, it is turned into veneers, trims, furniture, and floorings.
On the contrary, the wood has an interlocked grain that sometimes makes it difficult to saw. Sycamore is also infamous for durability issues and cannot resist insects that well. The color of its sapwood is a light tan, while the heartwood is more of a darker brown.
21. African Padauk
In woodworking, African Padauk is a popular choice amongst hobbyists because of its affordable price, great workability, and stunning orange-brown color. The wood typically has a straight/interlocked grain wood with gorgeous dark-brown streaks. As African Padauk ages, its color can shift from a light orange-red to a much darker red-brown shade. The wood is known for having large pores and a coarse surface but still shines spectacularly.
Because of all these amazing properties, plus the ability to resist termite and insect attacks, African Padauk serves as an excellent material for making DIY furniture, musical instruments, and other ornaments. It also glues together quite easily and can be cut into thin sheets to make veneers.
22. Downy Birch
Even though Downy Birch is not the first choice when you’re looking for beauty, the wood is quite likable in terms of workability. It has a rather basic grain pattern with straight or wavy streaks that are almost always uniform. The color can range from light reddish-brown to white, but the texture is almost always very fine.
Because the wood is susceptible to insect attacks and rotting, many carpenters prefer treating it extensively before it is used. However, it is quite bendy and readily accepts glue/stains, which is why it is mostly utilized in making ply boards.
It won’t be an understatement to call Ebony the gold standard of woodwork. It is almost pitch-black in color, has straight brown streaks, and a beautiful natural luster on its surface due to the fine texture. Besides that, ebony is also known to be one of the strongest woods in the market, with excellent resistance against rotting and insects. All of these properties make it a highly sought-after wood for making luxurious furniture inlays and parts of world-class pianos and guitars.
Unfortunately, the high demand for Ebony has also created a scarcity in the market. This, combined with the slow growth rate and smaller size of the trees, has led to most species of ebony being ranked as endangered or critically endangered. Many African countries (where Ebony is most widespread) have even banned the export of ebony, but that has only led the wood to become even more expensive.
Although Hackberry has historically been used for medicinal purposes, it has recently become more popular for being a rugged utility wood that’s easy to turn. It is only a tad less dense than ash, but is also super-bendy and responds well to finishing and gluing. The wood’s smokey brown-gray color is also quite unique, and the wavy black streaks it produces are also quite appealing.
Similarly, the grain pattern of hackberry is straight, but some interlocked pieces can cause trouble in sawing. The availability of this wood is also excellent, and you can frequently find it being used for tables and furniture that requires extensive turning.
Woodcarvers and instrument manufacturers greatly value basswood for its fine texture and workability. The wood is soft, has a fine texture, and a straight grain pattern that makes it easy to carve by hand into intricate shapes. Moreover, the relatively open pores of basswood let it absorb stain more quickly without creating a blotched look. Add to that widespread availability and affordable prices, and you have an ideal wood for making delicate ornaments and plywood.
Commonly associated with Pandas, bamboo is a popular furniture wood in Asian countries and Japan. The stems of bamboo are known for being extremely robust and rigid. Since bamboo is not like other lumber, it has a very distinct grain pattern. The wood is difficult to cut and saw, but can be finished and turned quite well.
Unfortunately, bamboo is also quite susceptible to insect attacks and weather damage. Still, the wood is valued for its strength and is also made into utility items like fish rods and ornaments.
27. Curly Maple
Curly maple is a highly treasured wood in instrument-making because of the stunning three-dimensional pattern its growth rings create. This maple is also called ‘flamed maple’ or ‘tiger maple’ as its pattern resembles the stripes on a tiger. It is widely used for crafting violins and guitar necks, but can be costly compared to regular maple and is only used for expensive instruments. Still, curly maple retains a relatively affordable price compared to other exotic woods.
28. Birdseye Maple
Birdseye is a type of figured grain pattern that has small knots or ‘eyes’ that form due to abnormal growth. It is most commonly found and extracted from hard maple, which is then used to create specialty furniture pieces and custom guitars. Compared to other figured maples, the Birdseye pattern is most prominent in flatsawn planks. Even though Birdseye maple is relatively rare compared to regular maple, it is still priced decently.
29. Field Maple
Like hard maple, field maple is also known for its strength and durability. The wood has a high density and straight grain that saws, turns, and glues seamlessly. Unlike other trees, the creamy sapwood of field maple is used more frequently than its heartwood. When field maple is used as lumber, it is mostly made into veneers, floorings, or instruments. However, it also grows much slower and smaller than other maple species, which has earned it a rare status and slightly higher prices.
30. Bigleaf Maple
Named after the huge leaves that this tree produces, Bigleaf Maple is also utilized for its timber across the USA. The wood is on the softer end of the maple species, but is fairly durable and easy to work with. It typically has a straight or wavy grain pattern, though quilted and curled patterns also appear from time to time. Most woodworkers use the off-white sapwood of bigleaf maple to make guitar bodies, furniture, veneers, or general items like crates.
Sapele is a tropical tree from Africa that produces dark-brown wood like mahogany. It has an interlocked grain pattern, but comes in many stunning quilted, fiddleback, and pommele figured patterns. Combined with its fine texture, natural luster, and maroonish color, the wood becomes an excellent alternative to mahogany. Unfortunately, Sapele is also reaching endangerment very quickly due to the swift deforestation of its trees.
Anigre is one of the few light-colored hardwoods from the African continent. It has a light yellowish-brown color with a hint of pink and typically comes in straight or interlocked grain. Mottled and curly patterns are also somewhat common and are polished and made into veneers. Anigre has decent workability, can be stained, and is exported in both lumber and plywood forms.
33. Douglas Fir
Douglas fir timber is one of the most valuable woods in the USA and is used in everything related to home construction. Its straight grain pattern, modest light-brown color, beautiful dark streaks, and superb workability make it a wood worker’s favorite choice. The trees are also plentiful in the states and yield a ton of timber, making them affordable and easily available. You can frequently find Douglas fir in frames, windows, cabinetry, doors, decks, and boats.
34. Norway Spruce
The Norwegian version of spruce is commonly used for paper production and construction across Europe. It nearly always has a straight grain and is very easy to work with. Flat and quarter sawn pieces of Norway spruce have beautiful, dark brown streaks that are frequently used for instrument production. The trees are also abundant in quantity and can be found at affordable rates.
35. Japanese Ash
Also known as Tamo Ash, this rare lumber from Japan is recognized for its unique grain pattern that is also called the ‘peanut’ figure. It is created by vines that wrap around the tree’s trunk and cause its cells to grow unconventionally, leading to this beautiful design. The wood also has an excellent reputation in terms of workability and is moderately durable. All of these properties make it one of the rarest and most expensive exotic timbers in the world.
If you could combine the lush chocolate-brown color of rosewood with the figured patterns of Sapele, you would get Bubinga. The highly revered African hardwood is extremely rigid and comes in stunning patterns like pommele, flamed, mottled, and even waterfall. Its color is a very dark reddish-brown and the wood is naturally lustrous. Despite being slightly difficult to glue, Bubinga turns and cuts well. It is also much more reasonably priced compared to other exotic hardwoods like rosewood, even if you pick a figured one.
37. Ponderosa Pine
Ponderosa is one of the most versatile timbers in the USA that can be utilized in various construction projects. It is technically the same as yellow pine, but has some distinct properties like a straight grain, paleish-yellow sapwood, great workability, and excellent availability. You can frequently find it being used in home fittings like doors, windows, floorings, and more. The pine also has decent durability for utility lumber.
38. American Beech
For flooring and decks, American beech is a greatly treasured wood because of its superior strength and comparatively lower price. It also has a decent creamy color that turns almost golden when steamed. The wood is straight-grained and a breeze to work with since it glues, turns, and cuts very easily. In contrast to other hardwoods like maple, the availability and prices of American beech are also extremely lucrative, making it perfect for producing deckings, floorings, veneers, and other robust construction fittings.
Brazilian tulipwood is well-worth its rare status and extortionate prices. The tree only reaches up to 30 feet in height and grows in a very limited region, which is the perfect setup for a rare wood species. However, it is the stunning reddish and yellowish streaks on the wood that make it one of the most beautiful and valuable timbers on the planet. It is sold in extremely limited quantities and is usually made into inlays for specialty furniture pieces, ornaments, and customized guitars.
40. Shagbark Hickory
Shagbark hickory is a utility wood through and through. It ranks the highest in strength and rigidity amongst most woods in the USA, including oak and maple. This also means that the wood is much difficult to cut and dulls blades easily. But besides that, it glues, finishes, and turns very well. Prices of shagbark hickory fall in the lower to middle range, and its availability is also great. Because of its high strength, the wood is typically used for making ladders, tool handles, floorings, decks, and other items that sustain a lot of weight and shock.
41. Vietnamese Rosewood
Like most rosewood species, Vietnamese rosewood is also a highly endangered tree that’s being rigorously protected in Asia. It has a gorgeous maroonish-brown heartwood with a straight or interlocked grain and noticeable luster. Durability is also a strong point for this rosewood, and it is generally easy to work with. Unluckily, the tree was subject to a lot of illegal logging and has since been declared an endangered species by CITES.
42. River Red Gum
River red gum is a type of eucalyptus tree that is native to Australia and yields rich, dark maroon wood. It is one of the most widely grown eucalyptus trees across the world and is known for being highly resistant to rot and decay. The wood is usually interlocked and quite dense, making it ideal for constructing outdoor furniture, posts, fences, and more. River red gum is widespread and available at affordable rates as the trees mature very quickly.
What is wood grain?
Wood grain is a general term that describes the arrangement of fibers and growth rings in a piece of log. It can have a straight, interlocked, spiraling, cross, or irregular grain direction. Its pores can either be densely packed or far apart, which we call open-grained or close-grained.
How do you identify wood grain?
You can tell the grain direction of a log by noticing the difference between its light and dark streaks. You can also feel the wood’s surface to identify its texture as close-grained is smoother while open-grained is coarse to touch.
Which figured grain pattern is the rarest?
Quilted and spalted grain patterns are quite rare to find and usually cost a lot compared to their regular versions. This is because these patterns are naturally created by fungi or specific growth conditions and cannot be forced like other grain patterns.
What is the most expensive wood in the world?
African blackwood (also called Dalbergia) is the most expensive timber in the world as it is highly endangered and extremely difficult to work with. Sandalwood comes at second because of its slow growth, though the wood is utilized for its oil rather than furniture-making.