What Wood Should I Use to Build a Dresser?

A Guide to Freshening a Set of Dresser Wooden Drawers

Wooden dressers provide storage for your home or bedroom. However, not all dressers are made the same. Building a dresser is an exciting DIY project, but what wood to use is the question? Here we look at the best woods to use to build a dresser. 

Hardwoods are the best wood types to build a dresser because of their solidity, carving ability, beautiful wood grains, and deep colors. Several varieties of hardwoods like Walnut, Maple, Oak, Mahogany, Cherry, Teak, Ash, and Birch are perfect for building a dresser that will last a lifetime. 

Different types of woods have varying shades of grain and color; choosing the right one for your dresser can be complicated. Before we look at wood quality, let’s look at the types of wood commonly used to make furniture and dressers.

Kinds of Wood Used for Building Furniture

There are two main types of wood used to build furniture, solid wood, softwood and hardwoods, and manufactured wood. Manufactured wood is an engineered wood that combines synthetic materials and natural wood.

Solid Wood Used for Building Furniture

Solid wood is a direct product of a tree, and the two types of natural wood used in furniture manufacturing are softwood and hardwood. 

Hardwoods are denser, more durable, and stronger than softwood and are the best for making heavy-duty furniture like dressers.

Hardwood lumber is harvested from deciduous trees that typically grow slowly. The most used types of wood to build high-quality wooden furniture originate from hardwood families, like Maple, Walnut, Oak, Cherry, Mahogany, Teak, Birch, and Ash.

The less-dense softwoods used for furniture manufacturing are harvested from evergreen trees that grow rapidly. Softwoods typically used to build furniture are Pine, Redwood, Cedar, Juniper, Douglas Fir, Yew, and Spruce trees.

Solid Wood Used for Building Furniture

Engineered Wood Used to Build Furniture

Manufactured or engineered woods are compiled from several types of wood. Even though they are not solid wood, they are often used in wood furniture manufacturing. 

Particleboard: Called fiberboard or particleboard, it is manufactured using a wood chipper to break down lumber into tiny pieces and then combine with adhesive to create a board-like wood.

Plywood: The original engineered wood is manufactured by taking 3-5 slices of thin wood and gluing them together to create plywood boards.

The Best Hardwood for Building a Dresser

Walnut Wood

Wood from the Walnut tree is strong, hard, and durable. Walnut is a great wood for a dresser because it carves well and lasts for years. Walnut is excellent for furniture manufacturing because it is easy to work with, finishes well, and is loved for its dark, rich color.

Walnut wood color varies from white to dark brown and is famous for the unique large burls it forms. There are many types of Walnut trees, like Caribbean walnut, black walnut, North American walnut, and Brazilian walnut, to choose from. 

Walnut wood is our top recommendation for building a dresser because it offers longevity and quality that will last forever. Walnut is a dense wood with good shock resistance and typically straight grains, but some curls and waves can be seen near the roots. Walnut is the best wood for a dresser because it can easily carve details.

In World War I, Walnut wood was used to make airplane propellers because of its durability and strength.

Maple Wood

Maple is considered to be the ideal wood for furniture manufacturing. Maple features straight, fine grains with periodic fiddle back or bird’s-eye patterns, and the color can vary from cream to reddish-brown. There are several types of Maple; all the varieties are durable and perfect for building beautiful dressers.  

Maple is a non-toxic wood, so it is typically used to make kitchen cutting boards and drawers. 

Maple is an extra hardwood excellent for building heavy furniture, dining tables, and dressers and cost-effective, unlike other hardwoods. Maple is resistant to indentation, abrasion, wear, and tear, absorbing shock.

Maple is perfect for heavy-duty furniture like dining tables, butcher blocks, and dressers. Most woodworkers prefer Maple for its structural stability and durability. Maple accepts adhesives and stains easily.

If you want a dresser built from real wood that can be handed down from generation to generation, Maple wood is your go-to. 

Maple trees are mainly grown in the Great Lakes area in the U.S. History scholars believe Maple wood was used to build the inner frame of the Trojan horse.

Oak Wood

The species most typically used to build furniture are White and Red Oak. Oak is great for heavy-duty furniture pieces because it is a dense hardwood that can withstand wear and tear and lasts forever.

Oak is highly durable and easy to work with. Because of the Oak’s slow growth, the wood is extremely dense. Either way, it can be stained or treated with a clear, natural finish. Oak is beautiful as it is.

Natural Oak has various shades, from light beige to brown and red. White Oak colors lean towards the beige-to-brown shades, while Red Oak is more pinkish and rosier.

If properly treated, Oak is a scratch and stain-resistant wood that withstand home life well. Sometimes the same Oaktree can offer several color variants. White and Red Oak stain well and accept adhesives well.

Oak’s grain pattern is unique, making it easy to recognize with its swirling and striped design. In pre-colonial times Oak has been used around homes for centuries in various manufacturing roles. Because of Oak’s durability, it remains just as popular today. 

Most antiques in the U.S. are constructed of Oak. The Oval Office desk is built from Oak that Queen Victoria gave to President Hayes in 1880. A dresser built from Oak will last years with proper care.

Mahogany Wood

Mahogany is a hard, durable wood frequently used to manufacture intricate pieces of furniture. Mahogany is loved and famous for its seep warm red-brown color and prominent strong grain. After finishing and polishing, Mahogany has a lustrous deep reddish-brown shine. 

Mahogany trees are large; that is why you will find large Mahogany boards just perfect for building larger furniture. With all its characteristics, Mahogany offers a timeless look that adds warmth to any home. When properly cared for, Mahogany can last a lifetime.

Mahogany trees are found in Mexico, Central South America, and Africa. 

African Mahogany is typically more popular than South American Mahogany because it varies from pale to pink to a reddish deep warm brown. Mahogany looks beautiful with fine detail carved out on a dresser or chest. Mahogany is easy to work with and ideal for hand tools, both small and large tools.

Mahogany is the preferred wood for making musical instruments, providing a warm, rich tone that musicians love.

Cherry Wood

Cherry Coffee Table Top

Cherry wood is perfect for building a dresser because it has an extremely straight grain. Cherry polishes well and has a lustrous, finished look making it ideal for a dresser. Cherry trees are grown in the eastern United States.

As with other hardwoods, Cherry wood darkens and ages beautifully through time. Cherry is a popular wood for big furniture pieces like dining tables and dressers as it is heavy and strong, stains well, and accepts adhesives easily.

Cherry wood can last centuries with the correct care and finish. Woodworkers consider it a prized hardwood for building furniture because of its warm color, unique grain, and flexibility.  

It features a distinctive color that starts as a pinkish brown that darkens to a deep warm red with age. Cherry wood’s straight grain and rippling offer a unique look preferred by woodworkers.

Cherry wood is exceptionally heavy and durable, and that is why colonial carpenters used it to build cabinets and furniture still around today. 

Contrary to historical belief, George Washington never confessed to cutting down a Cherry tree.

Teak Wood

Teak is exceptionally hard, durable, and strong, more so than other hardwoods, making it an excellent choice to build a dresser that will last a lifetime. The grain and color of Teak make it one of the most attractive types of wood to build handcrafted furniture for your home. 

Teak was typically used to build ships in the Middle Ages and is still used today to build yachts and boats.

Teak is high in natural oils and resins that protect it from insect invasions from marine borers and termites. Teak is naturally weather-resistant and long-lasting due to its density.

Park benches in England made from Teak sourced from old, dismantled ships are centuries old and testimony of their longevity. Young Teak wood is honey brown and age into an elegant patina grey through the years.

Teak can withstand extreme cold and heat, perfect for outdoor furniture. Teak’s durability is a good reason why it is a perfect type of wood to build a dresser.

The Teak is rot-resistant and will last for years to come. The natural benefits of Teak, durability, strength, warm color, resistance to insects, and weathering, makes it perfect for building a dresser.

Ash Wood

White Ash is the most used wood for furniture manufacturing. It is a light-colored, smooth-grained hardwood found on the eastern U.S. coast and some parts of Canada. 

The beige-to-light-brown color of Ashwood is a popular choice for woodworkers.  Ashwood is extremely durable and perfect for furniture building. Ashwood generally has a straight grain, but sometimes, it can create unique patterns as the tree grows.

Even though it is strong and durable, it is also lightweight. The aesthetically pleasing Ash accepts stains and adhesives easily. Ashwood is easy to work with, shock-resistant, and typically used to make tool handles, baseball bats, and restaurant furniture. Ashwood can be treated with several finishes like wax, varnish, oil, and lacquer.

Ashwood tends to change color through the years as its ages.  Typically, lighter Ashwood will change to a richer, darker color when exposed to oxygen and U.V. light.

In ancient times, Ashwood was a big part of people’s everyday lives, where it was used for weapons and wagons. Today Ashwood is used for furniture manufacturing, tools, flooring, and sports equipment.

Birch Wood

Birchwood is typically used to build dressers, furniture, doors, and cabinets and is recognized by its amber-to-white color with broad blotches of brown. 

When Birch is used for building furniture in the U.S., the most used type is Yellow Birch, referred to as Golden Birch. Yellow Birch wood is generally light, finely grained, and ages into a more visible yellow color.

Birchwood is excellent for manufacturing cabinetry and furniture and easily accepts glue, nails, and screws. 

Due to Birch’s hardness, it might be necessary to pre-drill it sometimes. Birch is strong, resilient, and doesn’t shatter or splinter like Ash or Oakwood when using a high-speed cutting tool.

Several species of Birch trees are found in the U.S. The most common are Black Birch, White Birch, and Yellow Birch. White Birch and Yellow Birch are favorites for furniture manufacturing.

Birch is an exceptionally durable and strong hardwood. Its beautiful light reddish color makes it an ideal wood for modern furniture, with a smooth grain that complements the furniture piece.

Birch’s durable characteristics make it excellent for building a dresser for your home. Howard Hughes owned the famous H-4 Hercules, the “Spruce Goose,” made of Birch.


Hardwood like Mahogany, Maple, Walnut, Oak, Cherry, Teak, Ash, or Birch is the best wood type to build a dresser. Using any of these hardwoods will build a dresser that will last a lifetime. 

All these hardwoods have unique characteristics that can be used for any DIY furniture project with beautiful results. When an artisan builds a piece of furniture with his own hands, an indescribable level of care and love goes into it. It is only fair that it is done with the best wood available.  

We hope you found this article informative and chose one of the versatile hardwoods we listed above to build your dresser.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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