The Cheapest Hardwoods for Furniture Projects & More

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Exquisite wood furniture materials often come with exorbitant prices. Fortunately, there’s a delightful secret I’d like to share with you: crafting a unique and high-quality piece for your home need not come at an extravagant cost.

In this guide, I’ll be revealing some of the best-kept secrets among skilled woodworkers – the most affordable yet splendid hardwoods for your furniture projects. Rest assured, you won’t have to break the bank to embark on your woodworking journey.

Top 8 Least Expensive Hardwoods Today

Maple, poplar, alder, white oak, beech, ash, walnut, and koa are some of the least expensive hardwoods available today. They are great options for furniture making, just like their like exotic counterparts, cherry and mahogany. 

These inexpensive hardwoods, however, can only be found in certain areas, depending on where you reside. To learn about the availability of hardwoods in your area, you can contact or head over to your local lumberyard. To know how these hardwoods differ from one another, here is your guide:

#1: Maple ($3-$7 per board-foot)


As a hardwood, maple is easy to mill and work with due to its clean appearance and machinability. Hard maple is more expensive than soft maple. Even though they’re both kinds of wood, hardwoods are more durable than softwoods.

They may be used to make furniture because of their toughness, which is comparable to that of walnut. Working with maple wood is a breeze since the wood can be easily shaped and carved to meet your project’s specifications.

#2: Poplar ($2-$5 per board-foot)

Poplar wood

Your woodworking projects will benefit from the low cost, softness, and ease of use of poplar. Poplar hardwood has a distinctive appearance due to its white and green coloring. It is common for the boards to be longer, with a distinct color tone.

Those who prefer the wood’s natural hue will appreciate the Poplar wood’s wide range of colors, despite the fact that some may find it distasteful.

#3: Alder ($6-$8 per board-foot)


Alder is a less-priced hardwood with a pleasant working surface. Because this wood is so easy to cut, sand, and deal with, you won’t have any issues whatsoever.

With their rustic appearance, they are often used for entry doors, cabinets, and furniture. They are on the softer side of Poplar wood

If you opt to use this wood for your furniture, you may be interested to know the various knotty alder wood stain hues that can enhance the look of your project!

#4: White Oak ($6-$8 per board-foot)

white oak

Oak has been a popular hardwood choice for a long time. Its strength, sturdiness, and the radiance of its grains make it a desirable material.

Flooring, paneling, furnishings, workbench top are all made from oak. Oak’s ornamental qualities are derived from the wood’s rich color.

#5: Beech ($6-$8 per board-foot)


Finely grained, thick, and affordable, beechwood is a popular choice and always available in Home Depot. Woodworking tools may be used to cut and shape the wood, making it easy to work with.

Beechwood from Europe has a particular hue that looks well on wooden products. Straight grains of homogeneous texture give it a delicate cream tint.

#6: Ash ($3-$5 per board-foot)


Straight grains and a homogeneous texture make ash a great choice for furniture. Various shades of light cream and light brown can be found in the timber.

This type of wood is ideal for constructing personalized wooden objects because of its regular cathedral patterns.

#7: Walnut ($10-$14 per board-foot)


For woodworkers and clients who need the highest level of craftsmanship, walnut is a preferred hardwood. 

Because of its high durability, walnut furniture may readily last for 400 years or more. It is one of the best lumber you can use if you want to upgrade your home furniture and decor. 

#8: Koa ($40-$60 per board-foot)


Koa is often the wood of choice for wedding rings, and you may have seen some made from it. This same material’s exceptional aesthetic qualities also make it popular for crafting light and functional phone cases.

Hardwood Lumber: Pros and Cons

Advantages and disadvantages of hardwood lumber over softwood alternatives include the following:

What I like

What i don't Like

A Guide to Choosing Cheap Hardwood Lumber

There are many more factors to take into account when making a wood purchase decision. Prioritize the following three factors:

Timber Grade

Timber is categorized into various grades. In the United States, there are three basic grades, 1 to 3, and a fourth grade (grade-4) that is frequently avoided because of its inherent poor qualities.  

lumber sizes

The three quality levels are Grade 1 (the highest) and Grades 2 and 3 (the next best).

Dried vs. Not Dried

When it comes to wood, dryness is a crucial factor. Dried wood is more expensive even when you buy it from a local sawmill. Air drying and kiln drying are two of the most common methods for drying lumber. Kiln-dried timber is of superior quality.


When purchasing hardwood lumber, make sure to check and calculate the measurements. The length, breadth, and thickness are crucial to the pricing of the wood and what you need for your project. To prevent having to join many pieces of timber, you need to get the right size of lumber.


Which is the cheapest dark hardwood?

The cheapest dark hardwood is hickory [1]. The wood of hickory is yellowish-brown with a reddish-blue tinge, whereas the sapwood is a lighter brown. Its overall look creates a striking contrast between the light and dark hues, making it a favorite among furniture makers and woodworkers. 

My Top Pick for the Cheapest Hardwoods: Maple


When it comes to selecting an affordable yet exceptional hardwood for furniture, maple unquestionably emerges as the top choice. The versatile nature of maple, coupled with its inherent durability and aesthetic appeal, makes it an undeniable favorite among seasoned craftsmen and enthusiasts alike. 

Furthermore, the extensive range of captivating grain patterns that maple offers ensures an abundance of creative possibilities for every woodworking project. In essence, when seeking both affordability and quality in the world of hardwoods, maple stands as the undisputed champion, offering a harmonious blend of functionality and beauty that is truly second to none.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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