American Hardwoods-The Best Choice

American Hardwoods-The Best Choice


American hardwood forest

Hardwoods are deciduous trees that have broad leaves, produce a fruit or nut and generally go dormant in the winter. North America’s forests grow many varieties that thrive in temperate climates, including Walnut, Cherry, Maple and White and Red Oak.  American grown hardwood can be made into durable, long-lasting handcrafted furniture, live edge furniture and cabinetry, and each species offers unique characteristics with variation in grain pattern, texture and color.

North America has had great success in the sustainability of its hardwood forests, due to the application of Best Management Practice (BMP).  The hardwood forests of North America support vibrant, healthy stands of timber, which in turn support a large and diverse wildlife population, with clean rivers and streams. For almost 100 years, advances in forest management and state and federal regulation combined with improved education on forest conservation have resulted in a dramatic recovery and renewal of American hardwood forests.

The U.S. Forest Service Inventory and Analysis (FIA)
Program has shown that between 1953 and 2017, the
volume of U.S. hardwood growing stock increased over 130%.
On-going scientific Life Cycle Assessment work 
shows that the carbon stored in American grown hardwood
at the point of delivery to any country in the world almost
always exceeds the carbon emissions associated with
extraction, processing and transport.  



black walnut tree

Black Walnut - Juglans nigra

Grown predominately throughout the eastern U.S. 
The sapwood is creamy white, while the heartwood is light brown to dark chocolate brown, occasionally with a purplish cast and darker streaks. The wood is generally straight-grained; sometimes with wavy or curly grain that produces an attractive and decorative figure.


black walnut wood sampleWalnut is a tough hardwood of medium density, with moderate bending and crushing strengths, and low stiffness. It has a good steam-bending classification. Walnut works well with hand and machine tools, and nails, screws, and glues well. It has good dimensional stability.

cherry trees

Cherry - Prunus serotina

Cherry grows predominantly throughout Midwestern and Eastern U.S. 

The heartwood of cherry varies from rich red to reddish brown and will darken with age and on exposure to light. In contrast, the sapwood is creamy white. The wood has a straight-grain, a fine, uniform, satiny and smooth texture, and naturally may contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets.

cherry wood sampleCherry is good to work and glues well, and when sanded it produces an excellent, smooth finish. It dries fairly quickly with moderately high shrinkage, but dimensionally is stable after kiln-drying. It is a medium density wood with good bending properties, low stiffness and medium strength and shock resistance.


maple tree

Hard Maple - Acer saccharum, Acer nigrum
Other Names: Sugar maple, black maple

Maple grows predominantly in the Eastern U.S., mainly Mid-Atlantic and Lake states. It is a cold-weather tree favoring a more northerly climate.

The sapwood is a creamy white with a slight reddish brown tinge, and the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The wood has a close, fine texture and is generally straight-grained.

maple wood sample

Hard maple dries slowly with high shrinkage, so it can be susceptible to movement in performance. Pre-boring is recommended when nailing and screwing. With care, it machines well, turns well and glues satisfactorily. 

The wood is hard and heavy with good strength properties. In particular, it has high resistance to abrasion and wear. It also has good steam-bending properties.


white oak tree

White Oak - Quercus Alba

White Oak grows throughout Eastern U.S. 

The sapwood is light-colored and the heartwood is light-to-dark brown. White oak is mostly straight-grained with a medium-to-coarse texture. Having longer rays than red oak, white oak has more figure.

white oak wood sample

White Oak is good to work with and screws well, although pre-boring is advised.  Its adhesive properties are variable. The wood dries slowly.

White oak is a hard and heavy wood with a medium-bending and crushing strength, low in stiffness, but very good in steam-bending. It has great wear-resistance.



American Black Walnut

American black walnut is a tree that carries symbolic and spiritual meaning. Some of the common themes associated with the black walnut are:

  • Growth and Resilience: The black walnut tree can grow in harsh conditions and survive for hundreds of years. It represents the ability to overcome obstacles and thrive in life.
  • Community and Heritage: The black walnut tree is often planted as a sign of respect and gratitude for one’s ancestors and roots. The tree also provides shade and shelter for other living beings, creating a sense of harmony and community.

Black Walnut is a powerful and meaningful symbol that can inspire us to grow, learn, create, and connect. 

 American Black Cherry

The American Black Cherry Tree holds a rich tapestry of symbolic and spiritual meanings. Some of these include:

  • Growth and Ecology: The Black Cherry is a medium-sized tree often found on the edges of forests. When young, it tolerates shade, but as it matures, it prefers more sunlight, often pushing the forest boundaries into new areas.
  • Duality and Balance: the mysterious energy and deep purple beauty of Black Cherry are mesmerizing. It vibrates with psychic and divinatory power.  Symbolically, the tree, its fruit, and flowers represent duality and balance.
  • Abundance and Renewal (Native American Symbolism): In Native American culture, the cherry tree symbolizes abundance, renewal, and harmony.

The Black Cherry tree’s magic extends beyond its reddish-brown heartwood—it weaves itself into the very fabric of our landscape, offering wisdom and enchantment to those who seek it.

 Hard Maple

The symbolism of the hard maple tree encompasses a rich tapestry of meanings across various cultures and beliefs:

  • Love and Generosity: The hard maple tree has been associated with expressions of love and generosity. It's presence is often seen as a symbol of warmth and benevolence.
  • Protection from Negative Entities: Folklore suggests that the hard maple tree possesses protective qualities. It is believed to shield against negative energies and offer a sense of security.
  • Health and Healing: The maple tree is linked to health and healing. Its vibrant leaves and sturdy trunk evoke vitality and resilience.
  • Longevity: The longevity of the hard maple tree mirrors its symbolic representation of endurance and lasting impact. It stands as a testament to the passage of time.

The maple tree’s symbolism transcends mere physical attributes—it resonates with deeper spiritual meanings. Whether you admire its vibrant foliage or seek its protective embrace, the hard maple tree invites contemplation and connection. 

White Oak

The white oak tree carries profound symbolic and spiritual meanings:

  • Strength and Endurance: The white oak is often associated with strength due to its hardy nature and ability to withstand harsh conditions. It symbolizes inner fortitude and the capacity to endure challenges.
  • Wisdom and Knowledge: With its expansive canopy and deep roots the white oak is seen as a symbol of wisdom, offering shelter and a place for reflection and learning.
  • Healing and Protection: In various cultures, the white oak is believed to have healing properties and is used in rituals to offer protection and promote well-being.
  • Rebirth and renewal: The cyclical nature of the oak's life, from acorn to mighty tree, represents the cycle of rebirth and the idea of continuous growth and renewal.
  • Peace and Calmness: In North American culture, white oaks have been planted to create a sense of peace and calmness in communities, symbolizing serenity and a connection to one's surroundings.

The white oak stands as a powerful emblem of resilience, wisdom, and tranquility, inspiring us to remain steadfast and seek deeper understanding in our lives. 

Bringing natural hardwoods into our homes not only helps create a sense of peace and calm but hopefully a greater appreciation and understanding of the wonderful gifts provided by nature.

At Cottage Industries on the Northern California Coast we handcraft our furniture using these fine American hardwoods and never tire of seeing new raw lumber, each piece unique and so full of potential. All provided by nature! 


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