When it comes to wood and furniture most women look at the asthetics and if it is going to “go” with the other furniture in the specific room we would like to place it.
When I enquired about a specific piece the other day, the very professional salesman gave an in depth description of soft woods and hard woods… Well, Blondie over here really thought all wood was hard – little did I know there were catagories.
Let’s start with the tree – In “old school terms” a hard wood tree is described to be denser wood. The term hardwood came from old logging camp’s rule of thumb, based on woods being named according to their resistance to sawing.
An exception to the above statement would be balsa wood. Even though it is one of the lightest, least dense woods, it is still considered a hardwood.
Upon researching further though, the difference between these two actually has to do with plant reproduction. All trees produce seeds but the structures can vary. Hardwood trees are angiosperms which means they produce seeds “undercover” – for example fruit and nuts.
Softwoods are gymnosperms with “naked” seeds. These seeds fall to the ground with no form of covering, for example pines, firs and spruces – growing seeds in cones.So there you have it, I have now learnt a bit of additional Geography. But it still doesn’t tell me why hardwood is used for specific pieces and softwood for others?
After investigating this further – this is what I learned…
It is not only about hardwood or softwood… deciding on what wood to use for a specific piece of furniture also depends on the grain, colour, texture and durability.
Oak: Both durable and flexible, it is strong and has good bending qualities. This is useful when making something. It resists moisture absorption.
What would you make out of oak? Furniture, trimmings, boat frames, wooden desks and flooring
Teak: Moisture resistant and resists warping, cracking and decay. Best used for fine furniture, panelling, building ships, doors, window frames and floors. Also works really well for general construction.
Mahogany: Finely grained with a reddish brown colour. It is highly durable and can resist swelling, shrinking and warping. It is used for quality furniture such as wooden cabinets, works well in boat construction, wood facings and veneers.
Pine: It has a uniform texture and is really easy to work with. It finishes well and resists shrinkage, swelling and warping. Pine is popular when it comes to wooden house construction, panelling and furniture.
Fir: Also uniformly textured with a low resistance to decay. Used to make furniture, doors, frames, windows, plywood, veneers, also for general millwork and interior trimming
Redwood: A light and durable wood that is easy to work with. It has a natural resistance to decay and is great for making outdoor furniture, fencing, interior finishing and panelling.
So no more just looking at a piece and thinking it is going to look great in a specific spot – I think I will have many many more questions for the salesman from now on… I am already looking at the furniture in my home in a whole new way!