What Type Of Wood Is Best
There is a large selection of oaks, pines and hardwoods to construct furniture out of, and with the addition of hybrids and other genetically engineered lumber, it is getting harder to determine what type of wood your furniture is made out of. This article will give you clues on how to determine what type of furniture you prefer and what wood is best for certain types of furniture units.
The classic-designed Greene & Greene furniture is usually constructed from solid mahogany. This type of wood usually has a straight grain and bears a reddish-brown color that darkens over time. Mahogany is very durable and is many times used in the construction of boats; it is also among the most expensive types of wood. There is one type of mahogany that is of inferior quality known as Philippine mahogany; this wood is inexpensive, soft, and not very durable. The only acceptable form of this wood would be when it is used as a top, decorative layer on plywood.
Authentic Mission style furniture is constructed from solid quarter sawn White Oak. White Oak is known as being "barrel tight" because of the fiber that grows within the tree that makes it strong enough to prevent leaking (for example) through a barrel. Other reliable solid oak includes Siberian oak and American Red Oak. The unique specks that make quarter sawn oak so valuable are actually protein that run perpendicular to growth rings on a lumber log. This protein makes the wood stronger as well as gives it a distinctive aesthetic. The most productive craftsmen, the Amish, hand pick the lumber to go into a unit and the parts that are left over are many times used for drawer sides.
Most recently, however, drawers are constructed from aromatic cedar, which has its benefits. Cedar repels moths and is aesthetically beautiful besides the fresh smell it leaves behind. After years of use however, cedar is known to oxidize and the smell wears off but can be revitalized by sanding the cedar. Nevertheless for the most durable drawers, hardwood construction is the best.
While you can get the most use from furniture with solid tops because they will last longer and can absorb finishes easier, hardwood constructed furniture or furniture with veneer tops can visually take on any style because they are available in a variety of stains, particularly darker ones. For example, the Barn Furniture Mart offers birch, cherry, and maple, both hardwoods in cappuccino and cherry finishes. Hardwoods come from trees that are available all year long.
While many people think softwood is the complete opposite of hardwood, there are many overlapping characteristics. Hardwood is generally harder than softwood, but many are actually softer than softwood. Balsa is a type of hardwood that's actually softer than pine and there's yew that's an example of a hard softwood. Softwood comes from trees that are conifers (needle-bearing) and include pine, cedar, and spruce.
Pine is a beautiful softwood known mostly for its attractive knots, but knots are actually signs of weakness in the wood. Nevertheless, a pine knot is stronger than a knot in oak furniture, which would probably fall out. To make sure the knot in your furniture isn't going to eventually fall out, a good test is to scratch around the edge of it. Pine is perfect for achieving a rustic look in your home, and it's usually the knots that add to its beauty but recently pine farmers are growing pine without knots. These genetically engineered trees are being farmed to grow fast and to grow without low branches (because that is where the knots come from.)
Rubberwood was discovered during the 16th century in Brazil however tree farms were started in Thailand and China. The sap from the tree has been used for many things from tires to condoms. Rubberwood features a nice grain and is widely used in to the furniture from Vietnam, Thailand and China. This type of wood is farmed, therefore is renewable and is durable. Its quality is comparable to oak as it is stronger than some hardwoods.
Plywood is often used in modern furniture as well. It is a panel made up of multiple layers sometimes including particle wood and solid wood. The layers are not very thick, only about a few millimeters and they are layered in different directions to make it stronger. Plywood is also very good as sides on a drawer because of its sturdiness and is usually pretty inexpensive.
Lastly, although usually frowned upon, veneer is not as bad as it is made out to be. It is great for pieces that won't get much use and can be very good-looking. Many times what causes veneer to be of poor quality is the construction of it. It is recommended to purchase furniture that does not require assembly. If you notice that the furniture is constructed of veneer and only features that decorative layer of veneer on one side, be prepared to not have that piece for very long. When moisture is absorbed by wood unevenly on one side only, it will swell and the board will warp. Even solid wood needs to be finished on both sides to prevent warping.
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