I want to build something like:img

I wonder, how do I know how solid/thick the wood has to be and how many braces there have to be? Is there a rule of thumb?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ there is no rule of thumb. Furniture will probably not be designed like bridges, just built according to what has traditionally worked and what lumber dimensions are obtainable (speccing a 5 mm width doesn't save you money if 5mm is the size lumber you can get). $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Use your mechanical intuition from living everyday in the physical world: TLAR It's not like you are aggressively trying to optimize strength-weight or material cost. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ Try out a similar chair at the furniture store and imitate the member size and dimensions (height, length). Also, match the type of wood. $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ imagine a heavy person standing on one toe on each point of the furniture. might be ok to let the furniture tip over or let a slat break and have them end up on a bigger area of a foot, but it probably wouldn't do to have the armrest to break if such a person was on it.. $\endgroup$
    – Abel
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ If you want to build something like the picture, the first problem is how to bend the wood. Making a steam box and a bending jig is quite possible, but expect to have a lot of trial and error. Also try to get your wood from a timber merchant who understands what you want to use it for, not whatever junk happens to be on the rack of your local DIY store. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 4:35

1 Answer 1


A known system of classification of wood is:

  • Hardwoods, which are flowering trees like, oak, maple, cherry.

  • Softwoods, which are conifers. Like pine, Douglas fir, redwood.

Generally, hardwoods are more durable and harder but there are exceptions.

Furniture used to be built with maple, oak, walnut, birch, and cherry, as well as pine.

These days because of the scarcity of good hardwoods They are used in combination with lesser quality wood and or used as veneer or laminate.

This is a useful guide to furniture wood, A guide to furniture wood

The choice of wood and design of the furniture go hand in hand, if you have a piece with a slender member subject to heavy loads you want to use good quality oak or cherry, or other high-quality hardwood.

Then you narrow your choice by the color and grain and stain of the wood.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.