As we have mentioned in other articles, and we never tire of remembering, wood has accompanied the human being from its origins: it has been and is very present in all cultures and civilizations.
It has helped us create from a spoon or a bowl to eat, to a caravel to sail the seas and discover continents. Passing by our first crib, the bed to sleep, the table to eat, the desk where to study, the car to bring the straw to the stable, the plow to till our land, the diligence with which to travel and even the first motor cars with its wooden chassis. Not forgetting the house where our ancestors stayed ... or ourselves today.
Although it is true that with the arrival of new materials, such as steel, concrete and plastics, wood seemed destined to remain in a marginal place and relegated to an almost artisanal use, today it is already considered the quintessential material of the century XXI, thanks to a greater environmental awareness and the development of new technologies to work it.
And there is possibly no other material that originates from clean air, that houses birds, that creates landscape, that attracts clouds and that serves as a place of delight and relaxation ... all at the same time and in the same place: the Forest. And possibly there is no other material whose recycling is so easy and profitable.
But to talk about the different types of wood, the first thing is to know What is wood? In the most formal and correct aspect, we could say that wood is, according to the RAE, the "Solid part of the trees covered by the bark". But the reality is that talking about wood is talking about the Tree, which in turn means talking about much more.
We have all observed with curiosity the sectioned trunk of a Tree and the concentric shape it generates, creating rings of summer growth (faster growth) and winter (slower growth), being able to discover the longevity of that Tree by counting its rings .
The chemical components of wood have properties that are very important for the manufacture of any product. The wood is composed of water, lignin, water, resin, mineral salts and cellulose in a proportion that would see depending on the type of depending on the type of wood we are talking about.
Among the characteristics of wood, for example, cellulose is used to make paper; tannins, gums, resins and oils are destined for the production of paints, varnishes and adhesives; Lignin (which is the substance that joins the wood fibers) is used in the plastics industry and in the cultivation of brewer's yeast, which serves as food for livestock and poultry.
These are the properties of wood that are taken into account when classifying the different wood types:
Hardness: resistance to penetration by other bodies
Flexibility: ability of wood to bend without breaking the direction of its fibers
Hygroscopicity: ability to absorb or release moisture.
Ease of polishing: property related to the hardness of the wood since the harder the wood the easier it is to polish.
Color and Avetado: property that is taken into account when deciding the aesthetic finish of the work to be carried out.
Mechanical strength: characteristics of wood to withstand compression, bending, tensile, torsion, hard shear ...
There are many and very varied ways of classifying wood: for its hardness, for its resistance, for the most recommended uses ... or even for the ecosystem from which it comes. If we resort to the classification according to the hardness of the material, we could differentiate two large groups: the softwoods (conifers) and hard woods (leafy), and may even include a third group if we consider the hardness of tropical woods.
Let's learn more about this classification!
Types of Softwoods
* Softwoods (conifers) is a group that is usually characterized by its low hardness, light color and comes, to a large extent, from evergreen trees (that is, whose leaf does not fall throughout the year). Let's put some examples of species that provide softwoods:
- Pine: from it one of the most used woods on the market is obtained due to its rapid growth, its abundance and its ease of handling. Its main uses are focused on the elaboration of structures for construction, in carpentry, doors, windows, furniture manufacturing ...
- Fir: by belonging to the family Pinacea (like pines) its wood and characteristics are very similar, as well as the purposes for which it is used. It is a species that abounds in central and northern Europe.
- Larch: another component of the family Pinacea, although curiously ... it is a conifer that loses its leaves in winter, which is why this species differs from the previous ones because it has greater hardness and great resistance to the outdoors. For this reason it has always been widely used in facades without the need for maintenance, acquiring a characteristic grayish color.
- Cedar: Did you know that this was the most used wood in ancient Egypt? Its trees are large and its wood has a pleasant and characteristic smell that drives away insects. This wood withstands the weather conditions without problem, so it is often used to make outdoor furniture.
- Poplar: all the Poplars or Poplars variants usually grow in more humid areas than the Pines, frequently finding them in riverside areas. Although they are deciduous, that is, they lose the leaf in winter, they offer softer wood, so they are commonly used to produce fruit boxes, packaging and wooden boards.
- Alder: typical of the riverside forests, where the trajectory of these narrow and long trees reproduces almost exactly the shape of the river bed or stream on which it grows. Its wood, very suitable for furniture and lathe work, has a light color when it is cut and over time it acquires an orange tone.
- Linden: You will know it for its flowers, from where the Tila is obtained to make delicious relaxing teas. But from this species a uniform light brown wood is also extracted without hardly differentiating the growth rings. It works so easily that it is very often used in carvings and craft pizzas.
- Birch: A great lover of cold and humid climates, closely linked to the cultures of northern and central Europe, and whose sage has been used since ancient times for its therapeutic properties as a purifier ... Its very light and soft wood provides excellent quality firewood , but it has traditionally been used to make containers (especially to contain milk!), for carving or to make sledges and albarcas, thanks to its high resistance to humidity, its lightness, and its ease of working.
- Cypress: used as an ornamental tree, while its wood It has some use in the construction of boxes and sheets to make musical instruments, due to the beauty of its tones and veining.
Types of Hardwoods
Several types of wood are included in the group of hardwoods (hardwoods), with the peculiarity that they are normally hard and come from deciduous trees (a leaf that falls in the fall):
- Oak: species known to all, which transmits strength and resistance and accompanies many cultures rooted in the land and their cults: Celts, Germanic, Basque ... Abundant in Central Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the Cantabrian coast, western Baetic zone and the Pyrenees. Its brown tones wood is traditionally used in construction, floors, doors, furniture and cooperage.
- Beech: They make up the Forest where we would most easily imagine seeing fairies on a foggy day ... one of the most beautiful spectacles to see is the spectacular colors of the fall in a Beech forest. Widely spread throughout central Europe, the southernmost forests being found in central Spain, Greece and Sicily. Its wood is medium hard and light brown, being widely used in carpentry for its stability.
- Ash- Grows in damp areas and provides a fine-grained, light-colored and especially flexible type of wood. For this reason, it is used especially in joinery to manufacture furniture with curved and turned parts.
- Brown: highly valued since Roman times, for having a very stable wood, durable on the outside and which also provides an appetizing fruit, the chestnut, used profusely as food until the arrival of the potato from America. Its wood has a high resistance to rot, which is why it has been traditionally used to make exterior carpentry and staking to fence meadows and fences for livestock.
There are other species that have been widely used over the years ... although mainly for other less common purposes. Next to Seal it, our main supplier, we give special use to these woods for their special qualities, their beauty, their durability ... and that is why we dedicate them an exclusive section in this article!
- Olive Wood: representative species and native to the Mediterranean, known for its longevity, adapted to dry climates. It has a highly prized wood for its yellow color and its contrasting grain, although its high hardness makes it a difficult material to work with. As you can find on our website, the main uses of olive wood are usually in kitchen utensils, as well as in handicrafts, furniture and coatings.
- Oak Wood: It grows forming meadows, forests of large scattered specimens that make up a differentiated ecosystem almost in itself, and although it is of the same family as the Oak (Quercus), it does not lose its leaves in winter. Similar to it, even sharing its ecosystem, is another of the most characteristic Trees of the Iberian Peninsula: the Cork Oak, known for its cork production. In Spain, the oaks create a unique symbiosis with pigs, as their acorns are used to feed the famous Iberian pigs. It should be noted that this type of wood is one of the hardest in the Iberian Peninsula, with a density very similar to that of Ebony. That is why it is commonly used to provide firewood, and there is great difficulty in finding pieces of this wood despite its peculiar and distinctive veining.
- Sabina Wood: one of the oldest Trees on earth, made of compact wood and fine grain. This type of wood gives off a unique and unmistakable aroma that also drives away moths, a characteristic that used to put small pieces of this wood in household wardrobes.
In addition, thanks to its resistance to putrefaction, it is highly appreciated by cabinetmakers and traditionally used to make posts and beams. Nor does it lose the leaf in winter and curiously, it grows in soils where other trees could not because of the lack of nutrients.
Of similar characteristics we find the Juniper, which often grows next to it, although it must be remembered that the Sabina is a Tree while the Juniper is a Shrub, which can have a wingspan or size similar to that of a Tree. Although to differentiate them there is a small trick: the leaves of the Sabina do not puncture and those of the Juniper do. Also ... The well-known drink of Pacharán is obtained with Juniper berries!
As we have previously mentioned, tropical woods, due to their huge number of different species and variants, would need a differentiating section. These woods receive this name for growing in the tropics, that is, around the Equator, which is why they are usually exotic trees and of high value. As a curiosity, it should be noted that as a consequence of a very similar climate throughout the year, its woods hardly have growth rings or are not very marked. Here we give you some brushstrokes on the best known and used in cabinetmaking:
- Mahogany Wood: It is a high quality reddish-brown wood, which is why it is highly appreciated for making furniture and guitars.
- Ebony wood: the type of wood that all cabinetmakers would like to work with and which gives its name to the profession (eban-ista). It is mainly used for high-quality cabinetry and musical instrument manufacturing, and is considered to be one of the highest-quality types of wood since Egyptian times. This quality is reflected in the sale price, making it one of the most expensive woods in the world. Its central part or heartwood is the most appreciated part of the trunk because of its intense black color. One of the curiosities of this wood is that, due to its high density, it sinks in water.
- Granadillo Wood: mainly used in the creation of musical instruments. Due to its high quality, and being one of the densest and hardest woods in the world, it is often confused with ebony.
- Cocobolo Wood: Differentiated by its contrast of yellow, orange and red colors, this wood of great beauty and resistance is used mainly as a raw material for musical instruments and handicrafts. Currently it is one of the most protected woods worldwide due to its scarcity.
How many of these woods did you know? If you want to discover them, all you have to do is visit the products on our website!