The Best Wood to Use for Wood Shelves

A close-up image of different types of wood grains.

When making wood shelves, you need to first know where and how you will use them before you can determine the right type of wood to use. If you are planning to use the shelves to display small and light ornaments in your living room, you can be more concerned on the design and color of the wood rather than its strength. However, if you are going to use the shelves to store heavy objects, such as books or home appliances, you should put wood strength and stability on top of the list. Below are some of the best wood types used to make wood shelves.


Pine is one of the most affordable and popular softwoods in the market. This wood variety is easy to use, paint, and stain, so it is ideal for people who are just starting to learn how to make wood shelves. Although pine is a solid wood, you should not use it if you are planning to store heavy objects on your shelves, as pine can easily bend or dent.


Plywood is another good option for people who are interested in making their own shelves. This manufactured wood is available in different grades which determine the smoothness and appearance (or lack) of knots on the surface. Another reason why this type of wood is ideal for wood shelving is the fact that it is relatively strong and inexpensive compared to other types of wood. Furniture grade plywood is ideal if you are planning to make a shelf for your living or dining room, while the B/C grade is a good choice for garage shelves.


Although cherry is a hardwood, it is lightweight and easy to use. Many people choose cherry over other types of hardwood for wood shelving because it has a rich, warm, and reddish color. The unique color of cherry wood becomes even richer and darker with time, making old shelves made from this wood sought-after by antique collectors. This type is a great choice for shelving meant for display.


If you want wood shelves that last for a long time, you should consider using Koa wood. This is considered to be the hardest among commercially available wood types. Even so, Koa is lightweight and has beautiful shellac qualities. A shelf made of Koa is ideal for your bedroom, dining room, and other living spaces.

Red Oak

Red oak is another popular wood type used for shelving. Aside from being sturdy, red oak is also easy to work with. People who want to make their own shelves will not have any difficulty handling, cutting, and finishing this particular wood type.


If you think that wood shelves are ideal only in very formal or traditional settings, then you haven’t seen shelves made of Paduak wood. This hardwood can fit seamlessly in modern and informal designs because of its beautiful reddish orange hue.


If there is one wood type that exudes elegance and classic beauty, it is mahogany. This beautiful wood type is ideal for shelves in libraries, offices, and other formal places. However, this hardwood is not that easy to handle, and it may prove challenging for an inexperienced DIY enthusiast.