There’s plenty of wood on the planet. It is warm, cozy, it is strong and durable, it can even last for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Wood has many uses including the building of bridges, manufacturing paper, heating homes, and making wood furniture. This is one of the most versatile materials in the world with thousands of practical uses. But what do you think makes wood great?
Wood and Wood Furniture
What Is Wood?
Wood is harvested from trees. If you could take a part of the tree and peel off the bark, you would immediately realize that there are two kinds of woods. The first, closest to the edge, is a light, moist layer referred to as sapwood. This is filled with tubes referred to as the xylem.
At the sapwood’s outer edge is a thin layer known as the cambium. This is where the tree grows outward to form those annual rings that can tell you how old the tree is. If you take the time to cut the trunk vertically, you would get into the grain. There are also occasional ovals that interrupt the grains. These are the knots. Knots are unique and attractive parts of the wood but they tend to weaken the structure.
Hardwood vs. Softwood
There are two distinct kinds of wood – hardwoods and softwoods. While the names may convey hardness or softness, these don’t always refer to the sturdiness or suppleness of the wood. Hardwoods are woods that come from deciduous trees (those that have broad leaves). Examples of hardwood are birch, beech, ash, maple, teak, oak, mahogany and walnut.
Generally, though, hardwoods are harder when compared to softwoods. One of the most famous exceptions is the Balsa wood which is classified as a hardwood but is actually soft.
Hardwoods come with beautiful grains which is why they are often used in manufacturing fine furniture. Decorative woodwork also looks great when done with hardwood. Softwoods are most suitable for construction work (e.g. poles and planks) because they are tall and straight.
Chemical Composition of Wood
If you can take a look at some freshly cut wood right under a microscope, you will see that it – just like any other plant – is composed of many cells. These cells are made up of three substances namely cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
There are literally hundreds of wood species so it is difficult to make a general adjective that would describe the word wood. See, oak is different from balsa in so many ways. Physically, wood is stiff and strong but if you compare it to steel, it is, of course, flexible and light. Still compared to plastic, metal and ceramic, woods have a unique isotropic inner structure.
One of the greatest things about wood is that it can last for a very long time. This is why wooden structures made thousands of years ago are still being unearthed by archeologists. This means that wood can easily outlast the person who invested on it.
Wood can rot when forces of nature get a hold of it. Organisms like insects and fungi can also nibble at the cellulose and lignin. If you want your wooden furniture to last, make sure that you know how to care for it. Ask your furniture retailer about cleaning solutions that could help you maintain your fine furniture’s beauty.
McCreery's Home Furnishings Wood Furniture Suggestions
Here are our Top 10 picks for the best wood furniture offered by Hooker Furniture: