Wood For Furniture
The Wood Database
Wood Quality Guide
Hardwood comes from angiosperm, deciduous trees.
It comes with rough wood texture.
The presence of vessels makes it porous
Tracheid content is around just 5% to 10%.
The complex anatomical structure makes hardwood denser.
Not all types of hardwood are ideal for furniture making. Being expensive, they are usually used in high-end furniture manufacturing.
Softwood comes from coniferous, evergreen trees.
It comes with fine wood texture.
The absence of vessels makes it non-porous.
Tracheid content is around 90% to 95%.
The relatively less complex anatomical structure makes softwood less dense.
Almost all types of softwood are ideal for furniture making. In fact, about 80% of all timber comes from softwood.
RED OAK IMAGE
Parana pine trees also called Brazilian pine are native to southern Americas, especially Brazil. Parana pine wood is free from resin ducts, pitch pockets, and pitch streaks. It has a higher shear strength and nail holding capacity compared to other softwoods. However, it tends to warp and distort during drying and compression.
- Color – Heartwood is light to medium brown, usually with red streaks. Sapwood is yellow.
- Density – Light but hard.
- Grain – Straight, uniform.
- Common Uses – Framing lumber, interior woodwork, sashes, and door stock, furniture case goods, and veneer.
- Finishing – Finishes well, but requires initial seal coats.
Qualities of Wood
Timber is the type of wooden material used for construction and furniture. Best quality timber comes from matured trees. However, to fulfill its function, timber needs to have certain qualities. Additionally, it needs to be devoid of any defects or imperfections.
Freshly cut timber gives off a sweet smell and shining appearance, which are signs of high quality.
It should also have a dark color. Light color usually indicates less strength.
High-quality timber is remarkably durable. It should be resistant to climatic changes, pests such as termites, and fungal attacks. There are 5 classes of natural durability to resistance against wood-destroying fungi.
- Class 1 – Very Durable
- Class 2 – Durable
- Class 3 – Moderately Durable
- Class 4 – Slightly Durable
- Class 5 – Not Durable
Elasticity allows the wood to regain its original shape with maximum accuracy. This property plays a crucial role if the wood is to be used to make sports equipment.
The fibers should be straight, compact, and firm. Wood with twisted fibers possesses little strength, as opposed to wood with straight fibers.
6) Fire Resistance:
The wood should be resistant to fire. Usually, the denser the wood, the higher the resistance.
It should withstand deterioration due to mechanical wear and tear and physical abrasion.
High-quality timber will always retain its shape and structural integrity during the seasoning or conversion process.
When struck, a high-quality timber produces a clear ringing. A dull heavy sound, on the other hand, is an indication of internal decay.
It should be able to withstand structural loads, especially in construction.
It should be able to endure shocks and vibrations. Usually, woods with narrow annual rings are the toughest.
12) Water Permeability:
Timber should have low water permeability. If the wood has higher permeability, it will readily absorb moisture, leading to rapid decay.
Usually, heavy timbers are the toughest and hardest.
The timber needs to be easily workable. Woods with a high resin content often tend to be less workable as they clog the teeth of the saw.
Wood for Furniture
Once the wood is processed, there are several vigorous procedures it must undergo to be converted into wood furniture. Wood furniture is the end goal in which the wood has been manipulated and shaped into something that can be proudly displayed. Here are the steps involved in this process.
Importance of Wood in Furniture
Humans have used wood for making furniture for thousands of years. Despite several technical breakthroughs, mankind has not yet found anything as versatile as wood for making furniture. It is also remarkably resilient and requires little maintenance.
Unlike most other materials, such as leather hides, for instance, wood can have multiple lifetimes through refinishing. Thus, wooden furniture offers excellent value for money. It also fosters a sense of natural beauty, looks, and feel. It’s no wonder why wood has remained a popular choice for furniture.
Before we move ahead lets a look some of the interesting numbers.
In 2016, furniture and home furnishings store sales amounted to about 111.47 billion U.S. dollars.
The booming e-commerce industry has also had an influence on the sales of furniture.
Average annual expenditure on furniture per consumer unit in the United States from 2007 to 2016.
Here is the average price paid by households for selected furniture items in 2016, by generations.
Whether you are using smart furniture, going for a modern look, or a Victorian decor, wood plays a critical role in furniture making. For example, a recliner, irrespective of how contemporary it seems, will always have a wooden frame.
Only wood can withstand the kind of motion or weight shifting a recliner experiences. Plus, using high-end wood for exposed areas such as arms, back, and feet, renders a classic look. The bottom line is people will continue to use the best wood for furniture as long as it is available.
How to Identify the Ideal Wood for Furniture
The forests of the world are chock full of different wood types. There is a huge array of materials out there that can be used to create practical, durable, and exotic furniture. Each has its own unique qualities and purpose in the construction process. However, some are more ideal than others.
Unfortunately, timber suppliers do not always label the materials they carry. That being said, you should have a good idea for how to properly identify the right woods. The extensive range of treatments can make it challenging to distinguish certain types or species.
When selecting wood for furniture, here are some tips to get you started.
Make Sure It Is Solid Wood
- First, look at the edges of the wood piece to see the end grain. If you see growth rings that match up with the direction of the grain along the face of the wood, you are looking at actual solid wood.
- If the same pattern repeats itself on all sides of the board, it may be a veneer.
- Sometimes, a piece of particle board, or MDF, is covered with a thin layer of plastic, stained, or painted to make it look like the real wood. In such case, you can use a planer or sander to reveal the real nature of the wood.
- At times a solid looking wood may not be even fully solid and made up of wood chips.
Check the End Grain Color
- The end grain color plays a crucial role in wood identification. Once again, you can sand or plane the ends to find out if the color is natural or artificial.
- However, you should remember that wood tends to darken with age. Even inner wood takes on a patina as it ages.
Examine the End Grain Pattern
- End grain pattern is another reliable way to identify wood.
- Hardwood usually has an open pore structure while softwood has a smooth texture with no grain indentations.
- Some woods also show distinct grain patterns when quarter sawn or plain sawn. Some of the woods also have characteristic grain patterns such as straight, knotty, or interlocking. So, you need to ask yourself the following.
- Is the grain texture open or porous?
- Is it quarter sawn or plain sawn?
- What is the pattern? Is it curly, knotty, or interlocking?
Look at the Hardness and Weight
- You can use your hands to get a feel for the weight and hardness of the wood sample. Simply scratching the wood can give you an idea for how hard it is.
- Compare these qualities with the weight and hardness of other species in the wood database. Heavy woods often tend to be hard.
- Alternatively, you can measure the length, width, and thickness of the wood to determine its density. Be sure to compare it to others in the database.
Find out the Origin of the Wood
- The more you know about the original source, the easier it becomes to identify different woods. For instance, if the wood was salvaged from a boat, it is more likely to be free of knots. This scenario would typically involve woods like ash, cedar, or oak.
- Knowing how large the timber is can also help identify wood, as some trees tend to have small barks.
- Similarly, knowing the intended use of the wood can also help to identify it. For example, swamp ash is often used to make guitar bodies.
- Knowing how old the wood is can also help in this process. Alder was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s to make guitars.
Search for a Peculiar Characteristic
- In addition to the above qualities, some of the woods possess distinct characteristics like odor and fluorescence. You can use these properties for wood identification.
- Woodworkers have also developed chemical tests for identifying wood. Usually, a water-soluble reagent is used to distinguish different species.
Which Tools Will You Need for Wood Identification?
For wood identification, you will need a measuring tape, a small block planer or a very sharp knife, a magnifier, and of course, some practice and experience.