Actually this may seem simple at first, but it is commonly a challenge to come up with the final choices. There are many factors to consider. Availability, color tones, grain patterns, density and workability are some of the decisions. Once you have picked the general species, you still have to determine the actual look, within reason, that you would like. Some of this will be solid lumber and much will be veneer. These do not have to be the same wood, often I like to use something simple for the background (cabin sides and bulkheads) and something a bit more interesting for the cabinets and door panels. This becomes more important when the majority of the interior is wood, less so when there is some fabric or wallpaper to break it up.
I like to start with the general color tones that are desired, and honestly I prefer to achieve the desired color with the natural color of the wood, not stain. I think that stain is fine for a few accent pieces but for the general interior, in the long run, the wood work will be easier to maintain and touchup without having to deal with stain. You need to consider what the wood will look like once it has aged for a while not what it looks like when freshly sanded and finished. Cherry, for instance, over several months goes from a pinkish to a warm reddish brown. Fir will go from a very pale light brown to a warm light reddish color.
Once you have picked out a few woods in the color range and grain patterns that you like, we need to look at their general working properties. Some woods machine very well and others chip and splinter badly others are not stable and warp and twist as they are machined. You are not likely to end up with nice flat doors from some woods, at least not without jumping through some very time consuming “hoops”. At this point we may have to eliminate one or two that are not really suitable.
Now we can look at what we have left. How is the availability of the woods, the builder should have some ballpark numbers for the volume needed. How is the quality of what is actually available. This is where it is important to get an experienced supplier involved, I usually work with Edensaw, they should have a clear picture of the market for the next few months. Remember if you pick the wood today and don’t start building for a couple of years, availability could be quite different. Political turmoil in third world countries, what is now the “must have” wood for kitchens or flooring and natural disasters can play havoc with the supply.
Once the project is started I like to lock in the quantity of veneer that is needed for the whole project. On most of the projects that I have worked on, we have picked the exact material from a specific tree, this gets us exactly what we want. When I get to this point I tell Ted Pike, from Edensaw, what I am looking for, he tracks down samples from different logs that meet the requirements, then we set up a meeting with the pertinent people. We lay the samples out and see what we like. We may pick something at this point or maybe this just helps narrow it down and do it again. This is, in my opinion, a much better approach than buying what is available off the shelf. You, the owner, get to be much more involved in the look of your project and we have much more control over the process of getting the veneers laid up.
If you would like to see good samples of some of the veneers that are available click this link. It is to a supplier of smaller amounts of veneers. If you click a on a type of veneer it will bring up pictures of samples of small batches. Look at several of the same type but from different batches, see how different they can be. This is why I like to pick my own veneers, you end up with what you want.
This is just a brief overview of picking the wood for a yacht interior . There are many more things to consider. I will go into more depth on each of these key points, along with a look at platform stock, book match vs slip match, quartered, rotary and plain sliced and a few other things.