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What is a Hardwood?     

"What is a hardwood? What’s the difference between hardwoods and softwoods?” Don’t worry, your questions are completely justified because this subject can be a little confusing. Most times, hardwoods are hard and durable while softwoods are soft and easier to work with. But there are some examples where a hardwood is softer than softwoods (like Balsa trees) and a softwood is pretty hard (like Yew trees). General rule of thumb is that hardwoods are denser, or durable.


A hardwood tree has broad leaves, produces fruit or nuts, and lose their leaves in the fall to go dormant in the winter. Hardwoods have unique markings and grain variations, and that natural beauty is why it’s used in high-quality furniture. Hardwoods are not only found in high-quality furniture, but flooring, decks, and construction because hardwoods last the longest. 

Hardwood species make up over 40% of American trees, half of these are oak. American hardwoods are a natural, reliable, and renewable material that help reduce our carbon imprint. It is more expensive, but that’s the price of quality. Oak, cherry, maple, hickory, and rustic alder are all hardwoods that Stuart David offers. We also source our wood materials from sustainable, responsibly harvested American forests to combat deforestation. 

Softwoods & Tropical Hardwoods

Softwoods are conifers (cone-bearing) and have needles. Pine and Spruce evergreens are in this category. 80% of all timber is softwood, even though softwoods are more common. Stuart David does not use any softwood for building furniture. Softwood has a light grain and is found mostly in construction. 

Tropical Hardwood is another category of hardwood, one that Stuart David does not use for building furniture. These include mahogany, rosewood, purpleheart, and crabwood. We don’t use these because they are not native to North America and must be imported, which introduces even more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and has to be shipped across the world. 

Importing Wood

When it comes to importing, there are a couple of things to consider. First, is that most foreign countries do not have the kind of environmental protections that we have in America. This allows the logging industry to thrive on vulnerable tropical forests, causing deforestation and destroying the natural habitat of millions of species.

It also plays a part in global climate change. Trees absorb greenhouse gases and convert them into oxygen, while also releasing water vapor into the air. Without trees to help filter our air, it increases the amount of greenhouse gases. The World Resources Institute estimates that forest loss contributes to annual greenhouse gas emissions by 12 to 17%. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 18 million acres of forest are lost every year. 18 million acres may seem like just another number, but that’s half the size of Florida. And, collectively, that’s what we lose every year. It’s been estimated that, at the current rate of deforestation, rain forests could be gone in under one hundred years. 

Imitations & Substitutes

There really is no substitute for quality. Fed up with the lack thereof, American citizens have started asking questions and really looking at what they are buying. This has led some in the furniture industry to come up with creative, but deceptive, titles and descriptions to give customers a false sense of knowledge about their product. Many people wind up fooling themselves by just assuming. If you see the name Tasmanian Oak, that has to be an oak species right? Actually that’s made from eucalyptus. Well, that Australian Cypress must really be cypress right? No, unfortunately, that’s made from pine. 

The best advice we can give is to do a bit of research on your own. Go into it knowing what wood you want your furniture to be made of and be sure to ask questions, as many as it takes for you to be comfortable with your purchase. Carefully examine the furniture and the way it’s constructed. Bear in mind that terms like “oak, maple, or cherry finish” may only refer to the photo laminate or color of the wood and not the species. Nothing compares to solid hardwood when it comes to holding nails and screws, or enduring the stresses of every-day use. Plus, solid wood is easily repaired, refinished, and modified over time. Quality, accept no substitute. 

Stuart David Is Your Answer

We are the leading fine furniture manufacturer in California and we do something nobody else does. We give you the custom options you need to make your furniture fit you, instead of just pointing and saying “it’s either this or that.” We give you options like configuration, size, style, solid wood, finish, and hardware. Our hardwood selections include oak, quarter sawn oak, maple, cherry, rustic alder, and hickory. Visit our 25,000 square foot factory showroom (in Ceres) for examples of our quality, style, and care. Stuart David believes in good business practices like protecting vulnerable rain forests and using only American hardwoods in our furniture, allowing you to choose with confidence. 







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3419 Railroad Avenue · P.O. Box 1009 · Ceres, California - 95307 (Map)


Ceres Showroom Open 10:00am - 5:00pm Monday - Saturday
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