Types of Wood | Properties of Wood | Uses of Wood & Characteristics of Wood
What is Wood
Wood is an important renewable natural resource. It is common in our everyday lives and the economy, in wooden framed houses and furniture. Wood is commonly used in making books and newspapers; bridges and railroad ties; fence posts and utility poles; fuelwood; textile fabrics; and organic chemicals.
Wood has been used for 1000s of years as a construction material for fuel, making tools and furniture and weapons.
Types of Wood; Hardwoods and Softwoods
Wood is categorized into two distinct kinds called softwood and hardwood, though it does not always refer to its actual hardness or softness.
Hardwoods typically come from broad-leaved (deciduous) trees (those that drop their leaves each fall, also known as angiosperms because their seeds are encased in fruits or pods). Examples include ash, beech, birch, mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut.
Softwoods typically come from evergreen (coniferous) trees (those with needles and cones and retain them year-round, also called gymnosperms. Examples include cedar, cypress, fir, pine, spruce, and redwood.
It’s generally true that hardwoods are harder than softwoods, but not always. Hardwoods have lovely, attractive grains and are used to make fine furniture and decorative woodwork, whereas softwoods often come from very tall, straight trees and are better suited for construction work.
Hardwood is timber from the slow-growing and broad-leaved trees: Hardwood is wood such as oak, teak, and mahogany, which is very strong and hard. Hardwood also tends to be more expensive than softwood. The following are examples of hardwood:
Types of Hardwoods
Mahogany, which is also known as Honduras mahogany, is a tropical and indigenous hardwood commonly found in Africa to South America and Central America. Many different species and grades of mahogany are sold under this name, which varies widely in price and quality. Mahogany is known to be the strongest, hardest, and best quality.
Properties of Mahogany
Mahogany wood is strong and has a uniform pore structure and poorly defined growth rings. It has a red-brown color and may display stripe, broken stripe, ribbon, mottle, rope, ripple, or blister figures.
Mahogany has variable colors ranging from medium brown to deep red. It is a traditional and versatile type of wood; however, it is expensive, and its color varies according to its age.
Crotch mahogany hardwood is widely used and greatly valued. Mahogany is excellent in carving wood and finishes nicely.
What is oak wood?
Oakwood is a type of hardwood that derives from the oak tree native to the northern hemisphere. Oakwood has been used as a hardwood timber for thousands of years, yet it takes up to 150 years before oakwood can be used for construction. Modern uses for oak wood include homewares, flooring, wine barrels, and firewood.
Oak is the most commonly used hardwood. Oaktree has more than 60 oak trees grown in the U.S., and oak comes in two shades: white oak and red oak. The red variety is also known as black.
Properties of Oak
Oakwood is exceedingly robust, heavy, and durable. It is an attractive light color with a prominent grain and is resistant to fungal attack, thanks to its dense constitution and long-living nature, which must equip the tree for its long lifetime.
Oak hardwood is robust, heavy and, light-colored hardwood. Oak is highly durable, easy to work with, and looks excellent stained or with a clear, natural finish. It’s also one of the most efficient woods to burn due to the high BTU content.
Oakwood comes in several hues, but its grain pattern is quite unique, making it one of the easier species to recognize. It has a long history of use around the home dating back to pre-colonial times and remains every bit as popular today. While this makes it a mainstay in traditional design, its versatility means that it can also make a modern piece come to life.
Uses of Oak Hardwood
Thanks to its durable and hard-wearing properties, we use oak for collections that require lasting materials, like kitchen accessories and chopping boards, and in our lighting collections to add an attractive natural aspect.
The appearance of Oak Hardwood
The shade of oak wood can vary from tree to tree and branch to branch. When a natural finish or oil is applied, the variations and contrasts of this gorgeous material shine, creating a beautiful natural feature in itself without the need for heavy ornamentation. Oakwood feels hard and smooth, depending on the finish.
There are 16 species types of ash which grow in the US, Eastern. Of these, the white ash is the largest and most commercially important.
Properties of Ash
Ash is a hard, heavy, ring porous hardwood. Ash has a prominent grain that resembles oak, and a white to light brown color. It can be differentiated from hickory which it also resembles, by white dots in the darker summerwood which can be seen with the naked eye. Ash burls have a twisted, interwoven figure.
Uses of Ash
Ash is widely used for structural frames and steam bent furniture pieces. It is often less expensive than comparable hardwoods.
Ash has elastic properties and is mostly used for bent pieces of furniture, such as chairs with curved backrests. You can identify Ash with its light brown color and straight grain.
Maple has about 115 species of maple by 5 species are commercially important species grow in the U.S. Two of the five are hard rock maple and sugar maple.
Maple is known for being more massive and more potent than other types of wood. Maple hardwood could withstand years of wear and tear and deterioration. This is also partly because Maple is moisture-resistant.
Typically, Maple is pale in color with natural twists and swirls in its grain. However, it accepts any stain or paint, making it easy to modify its appearance—other types of hardwood to check out include; Walnut, Birch, and Cherry.
Properties of Maple
Maple is so hard, strong and resistant to shocks that it is often used for bowling alley floors. Maple has evenly sized diffused pores that give the wood a fine texture and even grain.
Maple type that has a curly grain is often used for violin backs. Burls, leaf figure, and birds-eye figures found in maple are used extensively for veneers. The Birds eye figure in maple is said to be the result of stunted growth and is quite rare.
Uses of Maple
Maple is used extensively for American colonial furniture, especially in medium and lower priced categories. It can also be stained to simulate cherry wood, which it resembles.
Compared to hardwood, softwood grows faster. The softwood comes from conifer trees, which have needles and do not produce seeds. Softwood is lighter and cheaper than hardwood; however, it is as popular as hardwood within the furniture industry.
The following are examples of softwood:
Pine is a softwood that grows in most areas of the Northern Hemisphere. There are more than 100 species worldwide.
Properties of Pines
Pine is a soft, white, or pale-yellow wood which is lightweight, straight-grained, and lacks figure. It resists shrinking and swelling. Knotty pine is often used for decorative effect.
Uses of Pines
Pine is often used for country or provincial furniture. Pickled, whitened, painted, and oil finishes are often used on this wood.
With its pale finish, pine is fantastic for staining and blends well with other woods. These properties make it easily fit in with existing furniture and materials. Also, it is lightweight and very affordable.
Several species of cedar grow in the southern United States, Central, and South America.
Properties & Uses of Cedar
Cedar is a knotty softwood that has a red-brown color with light streaks. Its aromatic and moth repellent qualities have made it a popular wood for lining drawers, chests, and boxes. Simple cases and storage closets are also constructed from this light, brittle wood.
Cedar is known mostly for its aesthetics; cedar gives a crisp, rich feel. Besides its tonal properties, cedar is pitch and resin-free, making it ideal for indoor and outdoor architectural finishes. Other types of softwood to check to include Spruce, Fir, and Larch.
As the name implies, manufactured wood is engineered using several types of wood. Those hybrids come with advantages; they are considerably cheaper and lighter than other types of wood. For instance, furniture made using manufactured wood could be more affordable and more comfortable to ship. However, the strength and durability of manufactured wood vary according to its components.
The following are examples of manufactured wood:
Fibreboard is composed of broken-down hardwoods and softwoods, bonded together with a mixture of wax, resin, and heat. The outcome is an inexpensive dense piece of wood.
To simply put it, Veneer is composed of a thin layer of wood cut from a tree’s circumference bonded with a thick piece of wood. Usually, MDF, Chipboard, or Plywood are used as the dense part.
MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard)
While MDF is also formed of different wood types, the wood is pressed together, unlike with Fibreboard. MDF has a dense structure, which makes it very strong and more durable than other manufactured woods. These qualities and its reasonable price make it popular in the market.
Particle Board (Chipboard)
The Chipboard is a dense hybrid of wood chips and shavings combined using resin.
Plywood is made of a build-up of veneer wood layers, bonded to create a smooth, flat sheet of wood. Its “cross-ply” structure makes it resistant to warping and gives it inherent strength, making it popular in both the flooring and furniture industries.