Before we get into all of the different wood varieties and their common uses, it’s important to understand the three basic types of wood you might encounter. These three types are: Softwoods, Hardwoods, and Engineered wood. Each of these different wood types can be used in a number of different ways.
Hardness is one of the simplest ways to distinguish the wood used for furniture. Contrary to the popular belief, hardwood is not necessarily harder and denser compared to softwood. In botanical terms, hardwood comes from flowering trees while softwood comes from conifers. Both hardwood and softwood are used for everything from structural to decorative purposes.
Softwood - Softwood is wood from gymnosperm trees such as pines and spruces. Softwoods are not necessarily softer than hardwoods. As most evergreen trees tend to be less dense than deciduous trees, it is easier to cut them down. They also grow tall and straight, making it easier to cut long straight planks of wood. Some names are Pinewood, Poplar Wood, Southern Yellow Pine, Deodar Wood, Red Cedar, White Wood, Cedar, White Cedar.
Properties of Softwood
Usually, softwood consists of tracheid and wood rays but lacks vessels (vessels simply appear to be holes in the wood—what are commonly referred to as pores). As vessels are absent, softwood is also called non-porous wood.
The lack of vessels allows softwoods to absorb adhesives quickly, resulting in a better finish.
Softwood is commonly used in building material such as structural frames, exterior and interior wall cladding, fittings, floor coverings, formwork, and scaffolding, among others. It is also used in the paper and cardboard industry.
It comes with loose grain, higher sap content, and lighter color. However, it has poor fire resistance.
Its fine and lightweight structure makes it the best wood for furniture.
Hardwood - Hardwood such as maple, oak, and walnut. These trees lose their leaves annually (deciduous or broad-leafed trees). As they grow slowly, hardwood has denser wood fibers (fiber tracheid and labriform fibers). An interesting fact about hardwood is that some types of hardwood can’t float in water.
Properties of Hardwood
It grows slowly compared to softwoods. So, hardwood is relatively expensive. However, there are exceptions. For example, gum is a hardwood that comes at a price comparable with most types of softwood.
Hardwood is durable (less likely to decay and rot), comes with close grain, and requires low maintenance.
As it comes with low sap content and good fire resistance, hardwood is commonly used for wooden flooring. However, hardwood flooring is also revered for its varied natural colors, styles, and perforation plate patterns.
It is also used for making furniture. However, not all types of hardwood are ideal for making furniture.
Engineered wood - The third type of wood you may encounter are engineered woods. Engineered wood does not occur naturally in the environment but instead are manufactured. These boards are generally made with wood which is manipulated to have certain qualities or features. Also known as composite wood, these products are often made from the waste wood of sawmills.
Engineered wood is often treated through chemical or a heat process to produce a wood product which can meet certain sizes that would be difficult to achieve from nature.
Popular examples of engineered woods include Plywood, Oriented Strand Board, Medium Density Fiber Board, and Composite Board.
Here are the some different types of wood used in India, which are used for making pieces of furniture and decorative items.
One of the most commonly used wood, teakwood is both locally produced and imported. While it is produced locally in Kerala, it is imported from Ghana and Burma. It is the best type of wood to make furniture as it is highly fire resistant and durable. Teak is also one of the most expensive woods in India. It looks very attractive after polishing and will not get affected by white ants and dry rots. It does not shrink much and would not corrode metal fastenings. It is one of the most common types of wood and is for superior use only. It is found in central and southern India.
# Color – Heartwood is golden or medium brown and darkens with age.
# Density – It is heavy and strong.
# Grain – Grain is straight. Occasionally, it can be wavy or interlocked.
# Common Uses – Boatbuilding, veneer, furniture, exterior construction, carving, and turnings.
# Finishing – Finishes best with wood lacquer.
Sheesham or Indian rosewood is one of the most sought-after material for furniture. A hardwood, Sheesham is a timeless wood which can be used with different polishes and finishes. A little expensive, it is termite-resistant and can withstand varying temperatures with an ease. A versatile material, you can make everything at your home, from bedroom to kitchen cabinets, sofa sets, dining sets, and even flooring from this wood. Most of the musical instruments are made of Sheesham. It is found largely in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha. Furniture and cabinets are often constructed out of Rosewood. Many mathematical instruments such as rulers and musical instruments such as violins are carved out or rosewood because of its beautiful outward appearance.
# Color – Heartwood can vary from golden brown to deep purplish brown, with darker brown streaks.
# Density – Hard, heavy and strong.
# Grain – Usually narrowly interlocked.
# Common Uses – High-end furniture, musical instruments, veneer, and turned wood objects.
# Finishing – Finishes well, but requires initial seal coats.
Most likely, the origin of the term comes from the woven fabric satin, which has a smooth, lustrous face. Satin wood is very robust and durable. Its high gloss finish makes it very attractive. It is found in central and southern India. It is robust and durable. Its high gloss finish makes it very attractive. It is found in central and southern India.
# Easy to care for
Satinwood gives flawless finish which hides minor imperfections. It is a good choice for laying floors as it will not need everyday cleaning. As opposed to other different types of wood, this is mainly used to make flooring.
# Little Maintenance
It asks for regular polishing but does not need daily maintenance. The polished surfaces stay beautiful for a long time.
It is durable and gives the desired look or finish with a polish of choice. Satinwood is used to manufacture decorative pieces and furniture.
Sal Wood or Shorea robusta is primarily found in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. It comes with tough and coarse grain. It is very light in appearance and turns into a dark brown color with prolonged exposure to sunlight. You might also need to consult your Architects and take suggestions concerning what kind of wood needs to be used for windows. The tensile strength and durability make it a popular choice for making musical instruments and flooring.
# Durable - It is the most durable type of timber making it a popular choice for constructing furniture, wooden beams, and wooden frames.
# Immune to Decay - It is resistant to the attack of fungus, white ants and insects.
# StrengthIts strength makes it an ideal choice for providing strength and support. Sal wood is used to make doors, piles, and wooden frames. It is also useful in making small pieces of furniture.
Marandi or White Cedar
Marandi makes a great veneer for wooden accessories, including chests, shoe racks, trunks and other decorative items. Apart from being sturdy which requires minimal maintenance, this wood has an aesthetic appeal. Mostly imported from Malaysia, this wood requires a seasoning of about one month before it is ready to be used.
# Decay resistant - It is impervious to termites, decay and insects.
# Good texture - It is light, soft and uniform in texture.
# Beauty - Among the different types of wood, Marandi requires less maintenance and its aesthetic appeal is high. Marandi wood is used to create wooden accessories like shoe racks, chests, drawers, trunks, and other decorative items.
It is a tall evergreen tree with hard wood that turns reddish brown at maturity. Mahagony even stays durable underwater and takes up a deep color after polishing. It is found in Bengal, Assam, and Kerala. Mahogany is used to make cabinets, furniture, and patterns in decorative pieces of art. Mahogany wood is prized for its beauty, durability, and color. It is relatively free of voids and pockets.
# Glossy Finish - Its pores absorb paint so well that it gives an elegant glossy finish that makes it a perfect choice for making furniture.
# Durability - It doesn't decay under water.
# Finesse - It is the finest wood, therefore, can be sculpted easily.
Mulberry gives a neat finish and can be carved easily to make floors and ornate pieces of furniture and decoration. It gives a neat finish and can be carved easily to make floors and ornate pieces of furniture and decoration.
# Strength - It is tough and elastic.
# Clean finish - It makes attractive pieces of furniture because of its aesthetic appeal. Its color range is broad in comparison to other types of wood, which can be used to give a desirable finish.
# Can be easily carved - It can be easily worked with and makes ornate pieces of furniture and functional objects like drawers and cabinets. Mulberry can be used to make small pieces of furniture, turned objects and fence posts.
Deodar (Cedrus deodara) is very sturdy, rot-resistant, close-grained and can take up the deep polish to give a good finish. It is found in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Its softwood and have golden yellow shade.
# Durable - It is long-lasting and sturdy and a fine wood.
# Rot Resistant -Deodar is immune to decay by water and insects, giving it a long shelf life.
# Absorbs High Polish - It absorbs color in varying degrees which makes it useful in making ornate objects and furniture. In olden times, it was used to construct religious temples and landscaping. It is used to make railway carriages, railway sleepers, packing boxes and furniture.
Jackwood is compact, finely grained and easy to work with. It is found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.
# Even Grained - It is even grained which gives it a good finish.
# Easy to work with - It can be easily carved and designed to create furniture and other articles.
# Aesthetic Appeal - The beauty of the wood makes it a popular choice for making musical instruments and aesthetically appealing objects. Jackwood is used to make furniture, door panels, cabinets and musical instruments.
The list can go on, there are many more woods which are used in furniture and other purposes.
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*Disclaimer : Description given are based on the knowledge, understanding & research done by us it may vary according to regions and the quality of wood in the region.