Wood is a beautiful building material for many different pieces: furniture, cabinets, and even entire homes. At Sugar House Furniture, we use only the best natural wood for our creations. There are several different characteristics of wood that make it ideal for these applications. Today we explore just a few.
Color Me Impressed
Color is one of the most flexible characteristics of wood. Each species of wood has its own innate color, but this can be masked or augmented by paint or stain. Whether you like the rich tones of mahogany and ebony or prefer the pale golds of teak or beech, there is always something to impress when it comes to natural wood.
Wood Grain Varies
Grain describes the arrangement of fibers within a piece of wood. It is one of the characteristics of wood that makes each piece unique. Wood grain in furniture production is based on how the wood is cut, and the variety is almost unlimited. A straight grain means the tree was sliced parallel to the center pith of the tree, while interlocked or cross grain is common in trees with spiraling fibers growing in different directions.
Walnut and maple are very common choices for building furniture. They are durable and tough and have beautiful grain character. Mahogany and oak are also common choices for pieces that are designed to endure.
What Is Grain Matching?
When cabinetry or furniture is assembled, craftsmen have the choice to line up the grains of the wood or to not do so. Grain matching yields clean lines across seams, whether that be horizontal or vertical, and continuity across the entire piece.
Non-grain match is the other option and can provide bold contrast when used in the manufacture of furniture or cabinets. It is the less expensive option and is becoming increasingly popular. Non-grain match also makes repairing or replacing pieces of one piece less conspicuous. In many wood varieties, the grain pattern is more subtle, so matching grain across seams becomes less of a factor.
Knot to Be Missed
Wood knots are one of the most unique characteristics of wood that can make a piece more visually interesting and add a completely individual touch. They can have their disadvantages, but the weight of such depends on preference.
What Is a Wood Knot?
Wood knots form where a branch meets a tree’s trunk. They interrupt the natural flow of the grain. Some knots pinpoint the place where a dead branch fell off of the tree. Knots form more readily in trees that grow more slowly, otherwise the trunk shoots up too quickly before branches form lower down. The characteristics of wood knots can make a piece of wood even more unique.
Wood knots have a very distinctive appearance. They can appear as holes or dark rings that interrupt the wood’s grain. Often they mirror the surface of the tree’s trunk. Wood that has a lot of knots generally tends to appear more rustic than pieces that have no knots. Unfortunately, knots affect the strength of a piece of wood negatively. The wood fibers have to wrap around the knot, and that minimizes the tensile strength of the plank. Just how much the durability of the wood is affected depends on the size and number of knots.
Which Species of Wood Have Knots?
Every species of wood responds differently to its environment, and that is certainly true when it comes to knots. Species like alder form knots that are smaller than a quarter inch in diameter, pithily called “pin knots.” However, if you are looking for pieces of wood with sizable and distinct knots, the best choice is to choose a variety labeled “knotty.” Oak, cedar, and pine are just a few of the most popular species of knotty wood.
Individuality is one of the characteristics of wood that serves as a “catch all” for features that don’t fall under other umbrellas. Every piece of wood is completely unique, even if they come from the same species. This goes beyond the number of knots or shade of chestnut. Wood comes from living, breathing trees, and because trees are alive, they respond uniquely to their environment.
Even trees from the same species can be slightly different shades depending on how much water and sun they received, and different pieces from the same tree often indicate varied responses. It is these unique characteristics of wood that make using it in furniture construction so compelling and beautiful.