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Know Your Wood

Characteristics Of Wood

The main purpose in knowing the kind of wood you are working with is to make it easier to determine how the wood will react to stains and various types of finishes. Woods vary in hardness, colour and type of grain. The type of grain can vary from very tight to very open and can have a straight, irregular or fixed pattern.

Natural woods are becoming scarce; consequently, many pieces of furniture are being finished with veneer. Veneer is a very thin layer of natural wood laminated to a poorer grade of wood such as plywood or chipboard. Softwoods are very absorbent and in many cases, are more difficult to stain. They tend to absorb the stain irregularly and often will require an extra coat of finishing compared to the number of coats on hard woods. Exterior wood work requires a different type of protection from interior woodwork. Exterior wood is subjected to ultra violet radiation, temperature extremes and a wet/dry situation. Without any protective coating, exterior wood soon suffers from degradation. The surface will break down and become powdery, cracks will develop and colour will darken considerably.

They have their own natural oils, however much of this “natural protection” is destroyed when the wood is kiln dried, planed and cut to size. When used for exterior construction, the wood is then subjected to additional abuse from the rain and weather conditions. Rain and salt erode the outer natural protective layers of wood. The sun dries out the wood, robbing it of what little natural protection it has left, making it necessary to provide manmade protection.

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