Timbers for woodworking

Date Posted:28 September 2015 


Choosing the right timber for right job will always ensure your project looks like what you have envisioned. But how do you decide which type of timber will produce the desired results?

Timber can be classified as either softwood and hardwood. The definition between the two does not come down to one being harder than the other but rather its physical structure and makeup. Hardwood comes from angiosperm or flowering trees such as oak, maple or walnut. Whereas softwood comes from gymnosperm, evergreen conifers such as pine or spruce.

Other factors to consider with timber are the moisture content, durability, workability, termite resistance and fire resistance.

Moisture content in timber is high when first cut from the tree, if the timber is used too soon is will still move and warp as it dries destroying your project. There are two ways it is dried

  1. Air Dried. Allowing the moisture to evaporate naturally.
  2. Kiln Dried. The timber is dried by placing in ovens.

Australia has an abundance of different timbers available and we have listed some of the more common ones below.

 

Eucalyptus

Being one of the more common species in Australia the eucalyptus species contain many different types of sub species such as Tasmanian Oak, Blackbutt, Spotted Gum and Jarrah. This timber is commonly used for furniture.

Cedar

Western red is the most common type of cedar and is used for furniture, deck handrails, wall cladding and window frames as it has good rot resisting properties.

Fir

Often referred to as Douglas Fir or Oregan. The reddish brown wood is imported from North America and is used as a rafter material.

Pine

Coming in several varieties the main ones in Australia is Radiata, Cypress and Hoop pine. This timber is commonly used as framing for housing,

Ash

Being a white to pale brown this type of timber is used in furniture production.

Beech

Being native to Sweden, Denmark and Norway, beech can be used from firewood to furniture  and flooring.

Birch

This timber comes in two varieties; yellow and white. It is a fairly hard timber which can used for furniture and plywood. It is one of the most economical hardwoods and used extensively with flat pack furniture.

Mahogany

Very common in antique furniture but due to it’s availability its not commonly used today.

Maple

Available in two varieties: hard and soft. Hard maple is a very durable timber and can be used for high traffic flooring. Soft maple is used mainly for boxes and pallets.

Oak

This is one of the most sought after timbers and has been used for centuries. Available in 2 colours; red and white. It has a high resistant to moisture allowing it to be used for outdoor furniture.

Teak

Used extensively in boats and outdoor furniture as it is the best timber to resist sun and rain.

Walnut

A fairly expensive hardwood that is normally only available in narrow boards. It is used extensively in furniture making and as a veneer.

Knowing the properties and principals of timber allows the woodworker to choose the right timber for the right project.

 


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