Rare Beauty

☼  Choosing Your Favored Wood  ☼

Everyone wants their homes to look naturally designed and furnished, furnish their homes with wood furniture. Many types of wood can be used to build furniture, but mahogany, walnut, fruitwoods, oak, rosewood, and rare wood veneers and inlays were in common use because they have always been chosen for their workability, durability, and beauty. Furniture in the early 1900 was made with these woods. It is the reason why furniture made in the 19th century or earlier is almost always worth keeping. As these woods have become insufficient and a lot more expensive, furniture has been made with abundant woods. Today, most furniture is made with pine, ash, fir, and gum, and other inexpensive woods are used for its hidden parts.

Identifying wood characteristics can sometimes be the deciding factor to know if your furniture is worth refinishing or if it should be thrown away. Being able to know the type of wood used in your furniture can help determine its total value. There is a chance that a beat-up old cupboard was made with what today is considered an expensive wood. Examining a piece of furniture is easily identified by its characteristics such as color, hardness, and grains.

Characteristics of Wood

Hardness: Woods can be easily distinguished if it’s a hardwood or a softwood, but sometimes it can deceive you, not all hardwoods are hard, and not all softwoods are soft. The reason of its classification is a botanical one — Most flowering trees are hardwood; Conifers often are softwoods. Although most hardwoods are harder than most softwoods, there are exceptions. Generally hardwoods are more valuable than softwoods, but this isn’t always the case – for instance, a gum tree which is a hardwood often competes in price with softwoods. But if you’re still unsure, a more effective way is to identify its color and grain.

Wood color and grain: Grain can be determined by its different cellular structure for each species, hardwoods can be identified with its tabular cells called vessels. It is a visible pores you can see on the surface of the wood. Hardwoods cells are large and the texture is slightly rough or open, it often needs a filler to smoothen its surface. Smaller cells, often described as close-grained have a smoother surface and doesn’t require filling. Softwoods don’t have vessel cells, but can be practically considered as closed-grained. Trees have annual growth rings that are made up of cells formed during each year’s growing season. The value of wooden furniture is based on their grain and color. Hardwoods usually has a richer and finer-textured grain than softwoods.

Sometimes furniture maker practice the use of wood combination to lower the cost of furniture, an example would be a chair made of oak with its leg made of gum.

With this knowledge in identifying woods, you can now compare if the quality of your old furniture is worth keeping or if it is time to buy a new one. When buying new wooden furniture, make sure to assess the wood by its color, grain and hardness.

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Source: Wood Anatomy