Welcome back in my Apprentice Woodworker’s Blog!
We continue our Trip inside the Joinery facing one of the most important issues: Wood Types (or, more properly, Wood Species) .
You can’t plan and start a job without knowing the material that you’ll use!
And you can’t choose the right wood if you don’t know the characteristics of the most common species at least.
Often, in front of an object or furniture made of wood , appreciating the warmth and grain I asked myself:
What kind of wood it is?
That’s why I asked George (the woodworker who guides me in this adventure) to help me carry out this essential guide.
In fact, continuing to read this article you too can:
- Recognize the most common Wood Types
- To know its characteristics
- Choose the right material for your projects
This page is continuously updated to give you a point of reference for your searches whenever you need it .
Right now you can find information on these species :
- Fir Wood
- Cirmolo (An Italian Species)
- Pine Wood
- Poplar Wood
- Larch Wood
- Linden Wood
- European Walnut
- National Feather Walnut
- Tanganyika Walnut
- Olive Wood
- Elm Wood
THE FIR WOOD
Fir Wood is a very common plant and easy to recognize (the classic Christmas tree ) and it’s a conifer typical of mountainous areas .
In Woodwork it stands in Silver Fir and Spruce .
The Silver Fir wood has a yellowish-white color with not very marked grain.
It is very resinous and has poor weather resistance.
Between the two the Spruce is the most appreciated because it has a slightly higher resistance. Compared to Silver Fir it is more resinous .
Being an essence quite economic and a soft wood , it is very often used in the DIY projects . The carpenters mainly use to make the furniture structure , but also is used for flooring and guitars .
Great for those who are beginners!
THE STONE PINE
|Photos from www.lacortedinverno.it|
The Stone Pine belongs to the pine family and grows at high altitude, from 1200 to 3000 meters.
The essence is recognizable by its light reddish colour.
The grain is irregular .
It can be crafted and cut in all directions and is well suited to the realization of toys, carved ornaments, but also rustic furniture and buildings for outside .
It is used extensively for the construction of bedrooms furnitures because it improves the quality of sleep by reducing the heart rate and due to its antibacterial properties keep away moths and insects in general.
The Pine Wood is a resin rich wood and is more hard and resistant then Spruce .
The Sapwood (the outer part of the trunk) is pinkish white while the heartwood (the heart of the trunk) is more yellowish and brownish-pink.
It is often used for carpentry and construction , realization of fixtures , boardings and packaging .
It is easily worked and therefore very common.
It is a very light wood, soft and elastic , but not very resistant over time.
The heartwood has an ivory-white color with brownish hues.
It is a species widely used in northern Europe for the production of furniture in series and for the interiors of fine furniture . You can also find it in the fruit boxes , in matches and in the plywood finishing panels.
The Larch , from the Pine family , comes from the mountainous areas of central Europe .
Larch Wood has a reddish color and is extremely rich in resin, with a very dense and parallel grain.
The presence of a large amount of resin makes it little workable.
THE LINDEN WOOD
The LindenTree is a species present in Europe but also in Asia and America.
It’s used for carving and inlay thanks to its regular fiber.
Even its softness and extreme workability makes it easy to “shape” and is beloved by artists who engage in wood processing, especially by whom realizes toys.
It has a great use in the production of classic Northern European wooden clogs.
The Amaranth is known, of course, for its particular color, but before the seasoning the heartwood is actually of a gray-brown color.
It has a very fine texture and is used especially in cabinetmaking, woodturning and floors.
The Amaranth Wood is quite easy to work and glue.
It is a species quite valuable coming from Mexico and Tropical Areas.
There are different types, but the Maple most widely used in Europe is the Norway Maple that can reach 30 meters in height and 90 cm of trunk diameter.
The color can vary from reddish streaks with wavy white-yellowish.
In the 18th and 19th centuries it was widely used in the inlays.
Today is used in veneers , but also for solid luxury furniture.
The chestnut is very appreciated for its durability .
The heartwood of this essence is light brown and has an excellent durability to fungi, insects and fire.
Primarily used in furniture with rustic-style and the floors .
Thanks to its weather resistance is very well used for roofing and gazebo .
The seasoning is very slow because it tends to crack and deform easily.
The heartwood of cherry tree is easily recognizable by its reddish-orange pink color and straight grain.
It’s very appellant in Piedmont and Emilia’s furnitures, but also in French popular furnitures. Also used extensively in the construction of musical instruments , pipes and fine cabinetmaking.
It is also used for the veneer and woodturning to make table’s legs.
Photos from http://tree-pictures.com
Ebony has a heartwood recognizable by its dark color and light and parallel streaks, giving it a very nice look.
Indeed, it is a very fine wood .
It is mainly used to build small objects , carved furniture and musical instruments (especially the piano black keys).
The Beech Wood is very compact and has a dense and uniform grain.
It has a light cream and pink color when treated with steam to make it more resistant to the attack of fungi or bend it .
It is easily workable due to its compactness and is widely used for the realization of handles for tools as shovels, hoes and rakes.
It has a wide use even in cabinets, rifle butts and curved chairs .
The ash has a clear color turning to powder with grains coarse.
In fact, the painting is never uniform on this wood because the grain absorb in a different way the paint .
For this it is used in rustic furniture that require a more raw and less polished surfaces.
It is a very flexible wood and so workable.
It finds application in the production of handles and gear for sports.
The Mahogany has the classic reddish color and a fine texture with interlocked grain .
It has a very important durability especially if stored in a dry place.
It is used (a few years ago in a more massive way) for fine furnitures, doors, musical instruments and decorative items.
It has found wide use in France for the furniture in the Louis XVI style and Empire and in England in the 18th century.
Today it is also used extensively in veneers.
THE EUROPEAN WALNUT
|Photos from www.giardinaggio.org|
The European walnut has a brown color with black and dark strokes, it’s one of the best woods, both for aesthetics and for the workability.
It hasn’t a great durability, but if it is used in the interior furnishings there is no problem, so it’s very popular.
During the Renaissance in Italy, he has replaced the use of Oak in fine furniture ; In the 17th century it had a lot of space in England and France and was then replaced in turn by mahogany .
Find widespread use in carpentry for its beauty and workability .
In fact it is widely used in furniture, ornaments, panels, rifle butt, pool cues and cabinet.
THE AMERICAN WALNUT
The American Walnut has a dark brown color that tends to discolor.
It is not easy to work with because of the fiber which tends to lift ruining the tools and, because it is not easy to be spliced with the screws , it is recommended bonding .
In fact it is mainly used in veneers.
THE ITALIAN “FEATHER” WALNUT
The Italian Feather Walnut has no big differences from European Walnut , from a technical point of view.
It is, however, very appreciated its beauty given by a lighter color and the characteristic “feather”.
THE TANGANYIKA WALNUT
The Tanganyika Walnut is a reddish/brown wood that tends to darken.
It grows in moist forests in Africa, in the Equator area, from the Ivory Coast to Kenya.
The fiber is straight and fine.
It has a low elasticity, but it is easy to work for an enough skilled woodworker.
It is mainly used for fine furniture , small carpentry , doors , veneers , small objects and sculptures .
THE OLIVE WOOD
Here comes one of my favorites!
Perhaps because it is identifier of the Mediterranean culture, or perhaps because of its color shades .
Olive Wood, in fact, has a yellowish heartwood full of dark veins , very hard, compact and homogenous , difficultly prey for worms.
If not well seasoned it is subject to twist and crack .
However it is a wood known for its not firm nature and the trend to changes .
It is used mainly for sculptures and ornaments of value , but also for floor planks .
THE ELM WOOD
Elm Wood, because of its appearance, is mostly used in rustic furniture , but also in the plank floor, in track rails or decorative items and ornaments .
It is brown , but tends to darken with time.
Due to its fibrous graiin it is ideal for chairs as not likely to crack during the interlocking of the legs with the seat and is perfect for every type of joint.
However, it is subject to deformation and easy prey for worms although durable even when immersed in water.
Usually it is polished with wax or shellac .
|Photos from www.giardinaggio.org|
The Oak is used for fine furniture since the Middle Ages.
It is yellow with dark speckling and straight and coarse grain.
Very hard and resistant also to climate change and use.
It is used in countless ways: in addition to the furniture is used for musical instruments, in the shipping industry, in construction and in the planks for floors .
This is an Open Source page!
It means that you too can help me make it even better by suggesting changes and corrections.
You can also implement it with new informations and species that are currently not present.
In this way you will always have a safe and free guide about the most common types of wood.
Suggest changes merely commenting on this article! The informations in the article have been provided by George (the Woodworker who helps me in this experience), from different web searches and from the book “Works in wood”
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Until next time!
The Wood Blogger