Understanding Timber


Different types of Timber

Timber is and has always been the basic material used in the making of furniture, something which comprises objects of daily use in our lives. There are many varieties of timber, although not all trees produce a material with the essential characteristics needed for woodworking and cabinetry. Here in Handi-Art Sdn Bhd, we offer a selection that are suitable to be used in furniture making. Included is a list of the natural features of the wood, color, texture, and so on, and of the most frequent applications for the different types.

  1. Mahogany

Authentic mahogany, one of the woods used by Chippendale, Adam, and many others classic furniture making. In Asia it is found in the area in Indonesia, India, Philippines. Mahogany began to be the main wood used in furniture making, receiving its great impulse from cabinetmakers like Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton. The color of mahogany is light red, although it darkens over time. It eventually becomes a redtones. It is generally hard and compact, with a fine tight grain, almost without pores, with prominent grain. It is stable, easy to saw, polish, and varnish, and thus gives an excellent finish. Mahogany is used in the finest cabinetry for deluxe furniture, for reproductions, and for veneers. It is however, little resistant to fungal attacks.

2. Ebony (Sonokerling)

Ebony is found in different locations throughout the world, one of which is in Indonesia. It is darkest timber known, although it also has a dark brown form with black veins and one with gray or brown speckling. The grain is fine and tight, hard wearing but easily worked. There is some difficulty in varnishing this wood. It is especially used in decoration and elegant interiors, in high quality furniture, musical instruments, and in turned objects.


3. Ash

The Ash tree grows in forest of medium height throughout Europe. There are also species in North America and Japan. The wood is creamy white, light pink or grayish. The growth rings are very differentiated, with vessels that striate in radial fashion and create a wavy appearance when cut tangentially. The wood is very flexible and strong. It saws and machines easily for a good finish, and can be doubled without difficulty when steamed. It is not advisable to use ask for exterior facings unless it is specially treated previously. Ash is mostly used in curved pieces and the root is much appreciated in cabinetry.


4. Beech

Beech trees grow all over Europe, although the most appreciated variety comes from the mountains in Yugoslavia. There are also high quality types in North America, Japan, Chile and the Antarctic. The color of the wood is whitish, but it soon turns pink to light red when steamed. Beech has easily discernible growth rings and medullary rays that form small rectangles when cross cut and brown spots when sawn to length. Typically, the grain is straight, with a fine uniform texture and a medium weight, although this varies. Beech dries in a short time but tends to twist and once dry, undergoes a good deal of movement due to humidity. It presents a good finish and turns very well, although at times it can split. It is a wood used in furniture making, especially for turned elements. It is also used in making kitchen utensils. It provides a long lasting parquet flooring.

5. Indonesian Pine (Markusi)

There are many varieties of pine tree, the source of one of the most resinous woods known. A beige straw color with some bright red veining. This is variety is of fine and uniform texture. It dries with difficulty and is very rigid. At the same time, it works well both manually and mechanically and gives a good finish. It is mainly used in interior carpentry, for furniture and modeling. Rigid pine is a yellow or sienna color with very notable growth rings. This type of pine is one of the most resinous. It dries slowly and has a certain tendency to split. As the name implies, it is rigid, hard, resistant, difficult to work and thus used in industrial construction, that is a heavy structures. The heartwood is pinkish brown and in young specimens the sapwood is very light. It has a uniform texture with rings blending with wood and knots that cause it to crack when worked.


6. Birch

The sapwood has lustrous surfaces, a fine texture, and a rich white color. The duramen, or heartwood, has shades of reddish ivory or brownish yellow. It works well and has an excellent finish. Birch, unlike white oak, is not water resistant. It is usually used more in plywood than in solid pieces. At present, birch is used in house construction, in concealed frames in cabinetmaking, in parquet flooring, and in curved furniture pieces. The pulp is important in the manufacture of writing paper.


As for Teak wood and Sungkai wood please read at our blog “Timeless piece of furniture”






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