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Wood Descriptions

Alder

Common Name:  Red Alder, Western Red Alder

Distribution Coastal western North America

Tree size: 100-130 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

Alder prefers wet and clay soil, which is usually poor in minerals. The tree has a special way of obtaining nutrients. It fixes nitrogen (essential for growth) by growing in symbiosis with bacteria that absorb nitrogen from the air.

Grows in USA: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana

The Alder tree is a member of the Birch family. There are at least 35 species of these trees distributed throughout different climates around the world.

Although classified as a hardwood, alder is one of the softest of all hardwoods and is more commonly referred to as a semi-hardwood.  It has a moderate weight and hardness. Because of its uniform, small pore structure and consistency of color, Alder is a preferred wood for finishing. It has a beautiful red undertone that often increases in intensity as the wood ages.

Red alder wood tends to be a light tan to reddish brown; color darkens and reddens with age. There is no visible distinction between heartwood and sapwood. Large aggregate rays appear as occasional small streaks on the face grain that can be mistaken for defects in the wood.

Grain is generally straight, with moderate fine, uniform texture. Alder is evenly textured, with a subdued grain pattern.

Red Adler is very easy to work with both hand and machine tools; it sands especially easy and it turns, glues and finishes well.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, etc.

 

Bay Laurel

Also named Oregon Myrtle, California Bay Laurel, Pepperwood, Myrtle wood    Scientific Name: “Umbellularia californica”

Tree Size: 50-80 ft (15-24 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter

This is a large hardwood tree native to coastal forests and the Sierra foothills of California, and to coastal forests. Grows in Oregon and California and is especially numerous between Sonoma and Santa Cruz Counties.

California-laurel is a moderately heavy, moderately hard wood with an even texture and a fine grain.

The sapwood is whitish to light brown and typically thick, and usually well defined.

The heartwood is light brown or grayish-brown, frequently with darker streaks of pigment figure. Figured grain patterns (curly, mottled, burl) are not uncommon. The grain is usually straight but frequently wavy or irregular and is close, compact and smooth. It sometimes displays interesting and attractive figure.

Has a fine uniform texture with low natural luster.

Fairly easy to work, though tearout can occur on pieces with figured grain. Common uses: veneer, fine furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, gunstocks, turned objects; etc.   The wood is typically used more for aesthetic purposes, rather than in applications where strength is important.

Birch

Common Name(s): Paper Birch

Scientific Name: Betula papyrifera

Distribution: Northern and central North America

Common Name(s): Sweet Birch

Scientific Name: Betula lenta

Distribution: Northeastern North America

Common Name(s): Yellow Birch

Scientific Name: Betula alleghaniensis

Distribution: Northeastern North America

Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter.

Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a light reddish brown, with nearly white sapwood. Occasionally figured pieces are available with a wide, shallow curl similar to the curl found in Cherry. There is virtually no color distinction between annual growth rings, giving Birch a somewhat dull, uniform appearance.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight or slightly wavy, with a fine, even texture. Low natural luster.

Workability: Generally easy to work with hand and machine tools, though boards with wild grain can cause grain tearout during machining operations. Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Plywood, boxes, crates, turned objects, interior trim, and other small specialty wood items.

Birch is one of the most widely used woods for veneer and plywood worldwide. Besides regular sheets of plywood, Birch veneer is also used for doors, furniture, and paneling.

Related Species:

Alaska Paper Birch (Betula neoalaskana)

Alder-leaf Birch (Betula alnoides)

Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)

Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)

River Birch (Betula nigra)

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)

Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)

 

Black Acacia

Acacia melanoxylon (black acacia) is a tree (family Fabaceae) found along the coast of California, in the North and South Coast Ranges, and the San Francisco Bay region.

Acacias are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter.

Black acacia, which has spherical cream-colored flowers, was introduced as a landscape ornamental.

The color can be highly variable, but tends to be medium golden or reddish brown. There are usually contrasting bands of colors in the growth rings and it is not uncommon to see boards with ribbon-like streaks of color. Boards figured with wavy and/or curly grain are also not uncommon. Grain is usually straight to slightly interlocked, and sometimes wavy. Presents uniform, fine to medium texture.

Black Acacia is easily worked with both, hand and machine tools though figured wood and pieces with interlocked grain can cause tearout. Common uses: veneer, furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, gunstocks, turned objects…

The species has been introduced to a number of regions worldwide, either as an ornament shade tree, or on a plantation for lumber.

Black Locust

The black locust is commonly referred to as "false acacia" after its species name "pseudoacacia". Acacias are native to subtropical and tropical areas and do not thrive in the cooler climates favored by the black locust.

The black locust is native to Central-eastern United States (also widely naturalized in many temperate areas worldwide).

Black locust reaches a typical height of 40–100 feet with a diameter of 2–4 feet; exceptionally, it may grow up to 171 ft tall and 5.2 ft diameter in very old trees.

It is a very upright tree with a straight trunk and narrow crown that grows scraggly with age. The dark blue-green compound leaves with a contrasting lighter underside give this tree a beautiful appearance in the wind and contribute to its grace.

The bark is a reddish black and gray and tinged with red or orange in the grooves. It is deeply furrowed into grooves and ridges which run up and down the trunk and often cross and form diamond shapes.

The wood can range from a pale greenish-yellow to a darker brown; it tends to darken to a russet brown with age. It is heavy, strong, close-grained, and very durable in contact with the ground. The wood is extremely hard, being one of the hardest woods in Northern America.

Grain is usually straight, with a medium texture.

Overall working characteristics for Black Locust are mixed: although the grain is usually straight, its high density and hardness can make it difficult to machine. Black Locust also has moderate blunting effect on cutting edges. It responds very well to lathe turning.

Black Walnut

The black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) is one of North America’s most valuable and beautiful native trees.

The easily worked, close-grained wood of the black walnut has long been prized by furniture- and cabinetmakers for its attractive color and exceptional durability. The early settlers discovered black walnuts growing in mixed forests from Canada to northern Florida and west to the Great Plains. They found that its rich-brown heartwood was exceptionally resistant to decay. When grown in the open, the black walnut reaches 75' tall with a round, low branching, open crown that spreads nearly as wide as it is tall.

This medium density wood is tough and hard. It is prized in the woodworking world for its handsome grain.

The grain is usually straight, but can be irregular. It has a medium texture and a moderate natural luster.
Black Walnut is the standard for gunstocks in the US, it is extensively used in high-quality furniture, cabinetmaking, boatbuilding, musical instruments, and clock cases, turning and carving.

It would be hard to overstate Black Walnut’s popularity among woodworkers in the US. Its cooperative working characteristics coupled with its rich brown coloration puts the wood in a class by itself.

Black Wood

Blackwood is a medium-sized Australian hardwood that yields an attractive timber often used for decorative veneers, furniture and paneling.

Blackwood is a medium-sized Australian hardwood that grows in South Australia and the eastern states. In the wetter areas of Tasmania it is grown in large volumes for commercial use. 

It is definitely an ‘appearance timber’, with heartwood that is a rich golden brown. This is sometimes complimented by reddish streaks or a narrow band of darker color, indicative of the growth rings. The sapwood is much paler in appearance. Blackwood has a medium and even texture. Its grain can either be straight or have a wavy, fiddleback pattern, which is valued for furniture and veneers.

Blackwood is easy to work and nails and glues well. A smooth, polished finish can be achieved, making Blackwood ideal for furniture. It is important that safety precautions are taken when sanding Blackwood, as the dust can cause irritations.

Buckeye

Common name: Yellow Buckeye

Scientific name: Aesculus flava

Distribution: Eastern United States

Tree size: 50-75 ft tall and 1.5-2 ft trunk diameter.

The heartwood is creamy or light yellow, not clearly demarcated from the white sapwood. It can have grayish streaks. Buckeye burl can feature reddish-brown knots with light to dark gray swirls of discoloring.

Buckeye has a fine, even texture. The grain tends to be straight or slightly interlocked.

Yellow buckeye is one of the softest and lightest hardwoods native to the United States. Its low strength and bland appearance limit it to basic utility purposes.

The burl sections of buckeye are much more prized, and their light-on-dark knot clusters and unique, almost black discolorations make them sought after for a variety of specialty and hobbyist applications.

Common uses: furniture, utility wood, boxes/crates, etc.; while the burl sections are used for musical instruments, pen blanks and other small specialty turned objects.

Canadian Cedar

Common Name(s): Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Nootka Cypress

Scientific Name: Cupressus nootkatensis

Distribution: Northwest coast of North America

Tree Size: 100-120 ft tall and 4-6 ft trunk diameter.

Canadian Cedar grows from Alaska to Oregon including the Canadian Pacific Coast.

The heartwood is a bright clear yellow or pale yellow when first cut and darkens on exposure. The sapwood is a similar whitish-pale yellow and isn’t distinct from the heartwood. Color tends to darken with age upon exposure to light. When left exposed outdoors it weathers to a uniform gray.

The texture is fine to medium, and the grain is usually straight and even, though sometimes wavy.

Canadian Cedar is easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though pieces with wavy grain may produce tearout during planing or turning. It holds paint, stains and finishes well.

Canadian Cedar is commonly used for carving, boat building, siding, flooring, decking, outdoor furniture, musical instruments, turning, etc.

Cherry

Common Name(s): Black cherry, American cherry

Scientific Name: Prunus serotina

Distribution: Eastern North America

Tree Size: 50-100 ft tall, 3-5 ft trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light pinkish brown when freshly cut, darkening to a medium reddish brown with time and upon exposure to light. Wide sapwood is a pale yellowish color. It is not uncommon for boards to contain at least some sapwood portions along the outer edges.

Grain/Texture: The grain is usually straight—with the exception of figured pieces with curly grain patterns. Has a fine, even texture with moderate natural luster.

Workability: Black cherry is known as being one of the best all-around woods for workability. It is stable, straight-grained, and machines well. The only difficulties typically arise if the wood is being stained, as it can sometimes give blotchy results. Sapwood is common, and may contribute to a high wastage factor.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, interior millwork, veneer, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: Black cherry develops a rich reddish-brown patina as it ages that’s frequently imitated with wood stains on other hardwoods such as yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). This aging process can be accelerated by exposing the wood (in a judicious manner) to direct sunlight.

Not to be confused with sweet cherry (Prunus avium), a tree native to Europe and Asia that’s the primary source of edible cherries. While the fruit of black cherry is technically edible, the tree is utilized much more for its lumber, while Prunus avium provides the iconic and ubiquitous fruit.

English Walnut

Common Name(s): English walnut, Circassian walnut, European Walnut, French Walnut, Common Walnut…

Scientific Name: Juglans regia

Distribution: Eastern Europe and western Asia

Tree Size: 80-115 ft tall, 5-6 ft trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to a dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. Color can sometimes have a gray, purple, or reddish cast. Sapwood is nearly white. 

Grain/figure: The English Walnut grain is usually straight, but can be irregular. Has a medium texture and moderate natural luster, it can occasionally also be found with figured grain patterns such as: curly, crotch, and burl.

Typically easy to work provided the grain is straight and regular. Planer tearout can sometimes be a problem when surfacing pieces with irregular or figured grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, though English Walnut is rarely stained.

Common Uses in furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, interior paneling, veneer, turned items, and other small wooden objects and novelties.

Live Oak

Common Name(s): Live Oak, Southern Live Oak

Scientific Name: Quercus virginiana

Distribution: Southeastern United States

Tree Size: 40-60 ft (12-18 m) tall, 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Has a light to medium brown color, though there can be a fair amount of variation in color. (Conversely, Red Oak tends to be slightly redder, but is by no means a reliable method of determining the type of Oak).

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. Live Oak may have irregular grain depending on growing conditions of the tree.

Workability: Easy to glue, and takes stain and finishes very well. Though, due to its incredible density, (especially for an oak), Live Oak is harder to work with than other species of the Quercus genus.

Live Oak shares many of the same traits as White Oak (Quercus alba).   Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer.

Historically, it has been used in shipbuilding, and was even used in the construction of the USS Constitution, which was fittingly named “Old Ironsides”, an incontrovertible testament to the wood’s toughness.

Mahogany

Common Name(s): Honduran mahogany, genuine mahogany, big-leaf mahogany, Brazilian mahogany, American mahogany

Scientific Name: Swietenia macrophylla

Distribution: From Southern Mexico to central South America; also commonly grown on plantations

Tree Size: 150-200 ft tall, 3-6 ft trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can vary a fair amount, from a pale pinkish brown to a darker reddish brown. Color tends to darken with age.

Grain/Texture: Grain can be straight, interlocked, irregular or wavy. Texture is medium and uniform, with moderate natural luster. The grain ranges from straight to roey, curly or wavy. Grain irregularities produce very attractive figures such as mottle, stripe or roe, blister and fiddleback.

It has fine to coarse uniform texture. American Mahogany is lustrous and golden.

Grows in Central America and northern South America

Rot Resistance: Varies from moderately durable to very durable depending on density and growing conditions of the tree. Older, wild-grown trees tend to produce darker, heavier, and more durable lumber, while plantation-grown stock can be lighter in weight, paler in color, and slightly less rot resistant.)

Workability: Typically very easy to work with both hand and machine tools.

The sections with figured or irregular grain can tearout or chip during machining.

Slight dulling of cutters can occur. Sands very easily. Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, veneer, musical instruments, boatbuilding, and carving.

Honduran mahogany’s easy workability, combined with its beauty and phenomenal stability have made this lumber an enduring favorite. It’s an incredibly important commercial timber in Latin America, where it’s now grown extensively on plantations.

Manzanita

Common Name(s): Manzanita

Scientific Name: Arctostaphylos spp. (Arctostaphylos pungens)

Distribution: Shrub-land regions of western North America

Tree Size: 3-16 ft tall, 6-10 in trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is brownish red, sometimes with a bright orange hue. Sapwood is a pale off-white to light brown; clearly distinguished from heartwood, but not sharply demarcated. Burls and wild or swirled grain are common.

Grain/Texture: Manzanita has a fine, uniform texture with a good natural luster.

Workability: Manzanita can be difficult to machine because the tree (usually a shrub) tends to have many defects and irregular grain. Small pieces with straight, clear grain are relatively easy to work when compared to woods of similar density. Manzanita tends to check and split if not dried with care. Turns and finishes superbly. The wood is very durable and resistant to decay.

The gnarled and twisted branches of Manzanita make it a favorite wood for bird perches and aquarium driftwood. However, its form as a shrub generally means that its beautiful wood is only straight enough and long enough to be used in small projects.

Common Uses: Decorative slabs, small boxes, turned objects, and other small, specialty wood items.

Maple

Common Name(s): Hard maple, sugar maple, rock maple

Scientific Name: Acer saccharum

Distribution: Northeastern North America

Tree Size: 80-115 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

A Midwest favorite, sugar maple is famous for its exceptional fall color.  It is a large tree, commonly growing to more than 75 feet, with a rounded crown. With hard, dense wood, it is valued for its use as flooring, furniture, veneer, musical instruments and railroad ties. Native Americans invented the process of maple sap collection and its distillation into maple sugar and maple syrup. 

Maple trees grow in Europe, Turkey, USA and Canada; from California to British Columbia.

Color/Appearance: Unlike most other hardwoods, the sapwood of hard maple lumber is most commonly used rather than its heartwood. Sapwood color ranges from nearly white, to an off-white cream color, sometimes with reddish or golden hue. The wood is creamy white when freshly cut but ages to a light tan.

Grain/Texture: The grain is usually straight but can be wavy or curly and has a smooth, fine texture. The wood has a high natural luster and limited resistance to shock loads with medium crushing and bending strengths.

Birdseye maple is a figure found most commonly in hard maple, though it’s also found less frequently in other species.

Workability: Fairly easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though slightly more difficult than soft maple due to hard maple’s higher density. Maple has a tendency to burn when being machined with high-speed cutters such as in a router. Turns, glues, and finishes well, though blotches can occur when staining, and a pre-conditioner, gel stain, or toner may be necessary to get an even color.

Common Uses: Flooring (from basketball courts and dance-floors to bowling alleys and residential), veneer, paper (pulpwood), musical instruments, cutting boards, butcher blocks, workbenches, baseball bats, and other turned objects and specialty wood items.

Monterey Cypress

Common Name(s): Monterey Cypress

Scientific Name: Cupressus macrocarpa

Distribution: Endemic to central coast of California; cultivated throughout North America and Europe.

The Monterrey Cypress heartwood is a pale yellowish or reddish brown. The narrow sapwood is paler and usually clearly demarcated from the heartwood.

The grain is usually straight, though small knots are sometimes present, creating a more irregular grain pattern. Monterrey Cypress has a fine, uniform texture with a good natural luster.

Monterrey Cypress wood is overall easy to work with hand and machine tools, though areas around knots can be problematic. It glues, stains and finishes well.

It is commonly used as utility lumber, fence posts, musical instruments, furniture, boatbuilding and turned objects.

Oak

There are in excess of 600 species in the northern hemisphere that come under the genus Quersus, including the American White Oak and the American Red Oak.

American White oak: has a significant presence, with the average tree growing between 80 to 100 feet tall and measuring two-to-four feet in diameter. Living on average between 200 to 300 years, the white oak produces acorns that are an important source of food for a wide variety of birds and mammals, including turkeys, woodpeckers, black bear and rabbits.

The White Oak heartwood can vary in color from light tan or pale yellow-brown to dark or pale brown and can have a pinkish tint.

White oak tends to have a slightly more olive cast (as opposed to red), but color alone isn’t always a reliable method of determining the type of oak.

The wood usually has a straight, open grain and is medium to coarse in texture.

It has longer rays than American Red Oak and therefore displays more figure.

The White Oak grows in Eastern Canada and USA.

American Red Oak:

Common Name(s): Red oak

Scientific Name: Quercus rubra

Distribution: Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada

Tree Size: 80-115 ft tall, 3-6 ft trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with a reddish cast. Paler sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Quartersawn sections display prominent ray fleck patterns. Red Oak can become discolored and stained when in contact with water, particularly in the porous growth ring areas. Red oak does not have the level of decay and rot resistance that white oak possesses. The grain is usually straight and open but can vary. It generally has a coarse texture but this can also vary depending on the origin of the tree. It grows in Canada and USA; also grows in Iran, Europe and UK. Workability: Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Can react with iron (particularly when wet) and cause staining and discoloration. It responds well to steam-bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well. Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, and veneer.

 

Olive

Common Name(s): Olive

Scientific Name: Olea spp. (Olea europaea, O. capensis)

Distribution: Europe and eastern Africa

Tree Size: 25-50 ft (8-15 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1.0-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a cream or yellowish brown, with darker brown or black contrasting streak. Color tends to deepen with age. Olive is sometimes figured with curly or wavy grain, burl, or wild grain.

Grain/Texture: Grain may be straight, interlocked, or wild. Olive wood has a fine uniform texture with moderate natural luster.

Conflicting reports range from non-durable/perishable to durable/moderately durable.

Workability: Somewhat easy to work, though wild or interlocked grain may result in tearout during surfacing operations. Olive has high movement in service and is considered to have poor stability. It turns superbly; it also glues and finishes well.

Common Uses: High-end furniture, veneer, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Pear

Common Name(s): Pear

Scientific Name: Pyrus communis

Distribution: Native to central and eastern Europe;
also widely planted throughout temperate regions worldwide

Tree Size: 20-30 ft (6-9 m) tall, .5-1 ft (15-30 cm) trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: The heartwood ranges from pale flesh tones to light pinkish-brown and has fine pores and rays. Sapwood is slightly paler but is not usually distinct from heartwood. Pear is sometimes steamed to deepen the pink coloration. Pear is also occasionally dyed black and used as a substitute for ebony.

The grain is usually straight and the wood has characteristically smooth, very fine uniform and even texture. A mottled figure may sometimes be present. Pear wood is tough and stable. It can be polished to a very good finish.

It grows in Europe, Western Asia and USA.

Workability: Overall easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Veneer, architectural millwork, inlay, carving, musical instruments, furniture, cabinetry, and turned objects.

Pine

Common Name(s): Western White Pine, Idaho White Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus monticola

Distribution: Mountainous regions of western North America

Pine grows in western Canada and western USA.

Tree Size: 100-150 ft  tall, 3-5 ft trunk diameter

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light brown, sometimes with a slightly reddish

hue, sapwood is a pale yellow to nearly white. Color tends to darken with age.

The wood is straight-grained with an even, medium, uniform texture.

Workability: Western White Pine is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Glues and finishes well.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, construction lumber, crates, boxes, wooden matches, interior millwork, carving, and turning.

RedWood (Sequoia)

Common Name(s): Redwood, Sequoia, Coast Redwood, California Redwood, Vavona (burl)

Scientific Name: Sequoia sempervirens

Distribution: Coastal northwestern United States (from southwestern Oregon to central California)

Tree Size: 200-300 ft tall, 6-12 ft trunk diameter.

The heartwood of redwood ranges from light cherry-red to dark reddish-brown, the

sapwood is near-white or pale yellow. It is straight-grained with a fine to coarse texture. Interesting burrs up to 6ft in diameter are fairly common

Grows in California and Oregon.

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can range from a light pinkish brown to deep reddish brown. Sapwood is a pale white/yellow. Curly figure or Redwood burls (sometimes referred to as “lace” or by the name Vavona) are occasionally seen.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight, though figured pieces may be wavy or irregular. It presents a coarse texture and low natural luster.

Lumber from old-growth trees tends to be more durable than that from younger second-growth trees.

Workability: Typically easy to work with hand tools or machinery, but planer tearout can occur on figured pieces with curly, wavy, or irregular grain.

It glues and finishes well.

Common Uses: Veneer, construction lumber, beams, posts, decking, exterior furniture, and trim. Burls and other forms of figured Redwood are also used in turning, musical instruments, and other small specialty items.

Comments: Capable of attaining heights of nearly 400 feet, Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is the world’s tallest tree species. It grows in a very limited area on the Pacific coast of northwestern United States, where heavy rainfall and cool, damp air create a unique environment for these trees.

A related species, (Sequoiadendron  giganteum), sometimes known as Giant Sequoia or Wellingtonia, produces similar lumber.

Redwood lumber is very soft and lightweight, with a decent strength-to-weight ratio. It is also exceptionally stable, with very little shrinkage or seasonal movement.

Sycamore

Common Name(s): Sycamore, American Plane

Scientific Name: Platanus occidentalis

Distribution: Eastern United States

Tree Size: 75-120 ft tall, 3-8 ft trunk diameter

Though typically straight-grained, the wood can produce excellent lacy or fiddleback figuring. It has fine, even texture and is highly lustrous.

Grows in Central and southern Europe, UK and western Asia, also planted in USA.

Color/Appearance: Similar to maple, the wood of Sycamore trees is predominantly comprised of the sapwood, with some darker heartwood streaks also found in most boards, (though it is not uncommon to also see entire boards of heartwood too). The sapwood is white to light tan. The creamy-white or yellowish-white heartwood darkens to light golden-brown on exposure.   

 Grain/Texture: Sycamore has a fine and even texture that is very similar to maple. The grain is interlocked.

Workability: Overall, Sycamore works easily with both hand and machine tools, though the interlocked grain can be troublesome in surfacing and machining operations at times. Sycamore turns, glues, and finishes well, but it responds poorly to steam bending.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, interior trim, pallets/crates, flooring, furniture, particleboard, paper (pulpwood), tool handles, and other turned objects.

 

Teak

Common Name(s): Teak, Burmese Teak

Scientific Name: Tectona grandis

Distribution: Native to southern Asia;

Widely grown on plantations throughout tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Tree Size: 100-130 ft tall, 3-5 ft trunk diameter

Grows in Burma (Myanmar), India, Indonesia, Thailand, Java, Malaysia, Borneo, Philippines, Central America and tropical Africa.

Color/Appearance:  Most teak is a dark golden-yellow that turns to a rich brown with darker, deep brown markings.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, though it can occasionally be wavy or interlocked. Coarse, uneven texture and moderate to low natural luster. Raw, unfinished wood surfaces have a slightly oily or greasy feel due to natural oils.

Rot Resistance: Teak has been considered by many to be the gold standard for decay resistance, and its heartwood is rated as very durable. Teak is also resistant to termites

Workability: Easy to work in nearly all regards, with the only caveat being that Teak contains a high level of silica (up to 1.4%) which has a pronounced blunting effect on cutting edges. Despite its natural oils, Teak usually glues and finishes well; though in some instances it may be necessary to wipe the surface of the wood with a solvent prior to gluing/finishing to reduce the natural oils on the surface of the wood.

Common Uses: Ship and boatbuilding, veneer, furniture, exterior construction, carving, turnings, and other small wood objects.

Teak has grown into a worldwide favorite. With its superb stability, good strength properties, easy workability—and most of all, its outstanding resistance to decay and rot—it’s no wonder that Teak ranks among the most desired lumbers in the world.

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