The Best Trees and Plants for Making Rustic Furniture

The primary material that you will use for making rustic furniture will be twigs, branches, and small trees. There are also a few vining plants that work very well for some applications, and we will briefly discuss these.

Just about any tree, woody plant or vine can be used in rustic furniture construction. So, though I am mentioning some of the most common, don't get worried if you don't have these in your area. Use what is available.

Green Wood:

When making rustic furniture, either fresh, green wood or cured, dried wood is used. Which type you choose will determine what technique is used for constructing your furniture, and different trees work well for different techniques that are used in the rustic form.

My favorite type of wood and probably the easiest to start with are young pliable green woods. This type of wood is great because it is easy to work with, and it can be used the same day you cut it down.

I also prefer it because there is an over-abundance in our local area. Some of the young pliable green woods that work well and are found abundantly throughout the country are willow, cottenwood, elm, maple, poplar, alder, and dogwood.

You will find them in abundance along rivers, creeks, and roadsides. In the cities, they will be found along roadsides and where ever there are water spillways or runoff areas for drainage.

These trees and others like them grow very rapidly, and in many places, they are considered weeds. When cut down most of them will produce shoots from the stump that can be harvested when grown to the desired size.

These thin, flexible shoots are great for seats and backs on chairs and can also be used to build a bender chair like the one below.

On my property, I have an overabundance of medium sized cottonwoods that are a bit to large for the type of construction that I like to do, but as I have cleared some of them from the property, I have noticed that the stumps if not treated will actually produce 10 to 20 new saplings from their base. These saplings are great for use in making rustic furniture and will come back time after time when cut down.

Dried Wood:

Constructing dried wood furniture requires using wood that will make very durable and fracture resistant joints. The chair like the one below was made with Elm using mortise and tenon joinery.

Some of the most common trees used for this type of construction are Beech, Maple, Elm, Ash and Hickory.

Vining plants like like wisteria and grape can also be used to beautify rustic furniture by wrapping them around the framework of a rustic piece. If thick enough, mature vines can also be used structurally, but these may be hard to find.

You may also run across other vines or woody bushes that you can incorporate into a project. Don't be afraid to try something new. If it doesn't work, try something else. Warning: Watch out for poison ivy! It sometimes produces a vine that can get quite large.

There are so many other types of trees and plants that could be mentioned. So, If you can't find the ones listed above, don't worry about it. Use what you have available and you will quickly develop a feel for what will work best for you.

Whether you live in the city or the country, I'm sure that you have a wealth of building materials all around you. You just have to get out and do a little exploring.

Making rustic furniture is a snap when you start with the right building materials.

Happy Building!

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