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What Are the Best Types of Wood for an Office Desk?

Looking at creating a desk for your home office? Here are the top timbers you shouldn’t be overlooking.

Ah, your desk. An essential piece of kit.

Whether you’re working from home, doing some paperwork, gaming or simply browsing the Internet, it’s a piece of furniture that gets some of the most use in your home.

So, for you keen woodworkers out there, why not try your hand at creating one? Forget shoddy flat packs — let’s talk timber office desks.

Best types of wood for building an office desk

Your desk needs to be able to withstand a decent amount of weight, as well as look the part by seamlessly slotting into your home office.

We’ve balanced all the crucial considerations: technical performance, aesthetics and workability. Whether you’re on a bit of a budget or looking to create a truly designer desk, we hope you’ll find your dream timber species below.

1. Oak

Sample of American White Oak.

Did you know that the Oval Office desk in the White House is made of oak? If it’s good enough for the POTUS, it could be good enough for you too!

You just can’t beat oak. It’s a perennial classic, for many reasons. One, oak is hard and durable. This is absolutely crucial for a piece of furniture bearing the weight of your office equipment.

Two, it’s beautiful. Oaks such as American White Oak have a gorgeous pale cream sapwood, whereas European Oak boasts a classy golden to medium brown. Also, because of its excellent finishing properties, oak can also be stained to fit any range of home office styles.

Lastly, oak works excellently, taking screws, nails and sawing as well as any — which is obviously a consideration if you’re doing some DIY with it!

In terms of cost, oak is middle of the road. There are cheaper options, and more expensive timbers too. With reliability and beauty abundant, you can’t go wrong with oak.

2. Walnut

Sample of Walnut.

Walnut — famed for its gorgeous grain, colour and pattern. The creamy brown to chocolate brown hues which characterise species such as American Black Walnut might be at home in a darker, sleek home office setup.

The hardwood’s outstanding decorative appearance is coupled with superb performance properties, meaning your desk will be able to withstand a lot of use over a very long period.

Something to bear in mind: walnut’s grand, ornate appearance and rarity does mean that it commands a price at the higher end of the spectrum.

3. Cherry

Sample of Cherry.

To make a statement, take a look at species such as American Cherry. With a fine texture and white to reddish brown sapwood — sometimes creamy pink — cherry can find itself at home in many office setups.

Cherry is also a woodworker’s dream. It has impeccable hand and machine tool workability, as well as excellent gluing, nailing, screwing and polishing properties.

4. African hardwoods

Sample of Zebrano.

Looking to push the boat out, perhaps? Take a look at some of these stylish, unique African hardwoods such as utile, iroko, sapele or zebrano — the latter so called because of its distinct, stripy appearance!

There’s an incredible variety of exciting colours, grains and textures, allowing you to create an office desk that’s truly one of a kind.

Let’s take utile, for example. The reddish-brown and purplish hues make for a classy choice; it’s considered by many to be the finest mahogany substitute out there. Due to its slow-growing nature, typical of most African timber species, utile has incredible durability. The species also works well, with excellent gluing properties, as well as good machining and ease of fixing.

5. Maple

Sample of Maple.

If you’re on a bit of a budget, American Hard Maple is a fine choice for a desk. It’s got the winning combo of properties — durable as well as good looking.

The wood’s creamy white sapwood and slight pinkish-brown tinge makes for an attractive, modern and more affordable choice. Maple can be slightly on the challenging side to work with, however; care must be taken when machining.

Why wood for my office desk, though?

Having taken a look through the many beautiful timbers we’ve mentioned, you might be wondering ‘why timber’? What makes wood so special, compared to other materials such as glass, metal or laminate? A fair question.

Well, you can’t beat the natural aesthetic of wooden furniture. There’s a reason it’s a timeless material — it looks beautiful, feels good and performs fantastically. You can pretty much guarantee that it’ll never go out of style.

There’s even evidence that natural surfaces like wood make us feel good, improving our emotional state, reducing blood pressure and stress levels. That’s because humans have an innate attraction to natural surfaces and things like wood.

This stress-busting effect can only be a good thing if you’re hard at work, or perhaps trying to get some irritating paperwork out of the way!

Example overlay of wooden desk.

Finishes for an office desk

Of course, wooden desks are like a fine wine — they get better and better with age, attaining beautiful patinas in the grain.

The two main reasons to apply a finish are to enhance appearance and provide protection, of course. Here are your finish options to ensure your desk stays tip-top for the longest possible time.

  • Clear
    • To keep as natural a look as possible, retaining the original look, choose a clear coat oil or varnish.
  • Wood stain
    • If you want to retain much of the original look of the timber but add some colour, choose suitably-coloured wood stain.
    • This can enhance the look of the grain, as well as providing protection.
  • Paint
    • If you need a dramatic change in colour so the desk fits in with your home office decor, applying paint can obscure the natural look at the wood whilst providing protection.
    • That said, a thin layer may bring out the grain.
Nice office desk in situ.

Let’s get started on your project

At Duffield, we’ve been in the timber game since 1957. Why not pop into our woodworking centre to explore the mind-blowing range of high-quality timber on offer? The perfect wood for your desk awaits at this woodworker’s paradise!

For any questions or queries about a DIY furniture project you have in mind, we’re bound to know the answer — drop us a line and let’s see how we can help.

Walnut — famed for its gorgeous grain, colour and pattern. The creamy brown to chocolate brown hues which characterise species such as American Black Walnut might be at home in a darker, sleek home office setup.The hardwood’s outstanding decorative appearance is coupled with superb performance properties, meaning your desk will be able to withstand a lot of use over a very long period.Something to bear in mind: walnut’s grand, ornate appearance and rarity does mean that it commands a price at the higher end of the spectrum.3. Cherry

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