Knowing Your Woods
Do you live in a humid environment, such as near a body of water, or in a basement apartment? If your wainscoting or kitchen cabinets are made of pine, you may be familiar with the flexible nature of ...
Do you live in a humid environment, such as near a body of water, or in a basement apartment? If your wainscoting or kitchen cabinets are made of pine, you may be familiar with the flexible nature of wood. Maybe you returned to your home one warm, humid night from a fun weekend with friends, and saw that your cabinet doors were completely warped and unable to close. As odd as it sounds, it does happen. This is because all wood types have a certain amount of elasticity when put under stress. Of course, various factors are involved, including: the type of wood and its moisture content, as well as the amount of stress that is inflicted upon it.
The elasticity of wood is something that humans have known about and leveraged for thousands of years, as can readily be verified by the wondrous creations of our ancestors, including, wooden wheels, elaborate battle ships such as Spanish Galleons and countless architectural works. However, it wasn’t until the 17th Century that there was scientific insight into the definitive properties of this mystery. An English physicist named Robert Hooke developed a theory, which subsequently became Hooke's law that stated that the amount by which a material body is deformed is linearly related to the force causing the deformation. In layman terms, this means that stress applied to a material translates to a proportional strain on this material. Increase the stress and a certain amount of strain will permanently deform the wood. Because there are many different types of wood, each with varying degrees of moisture content and density, under Hooke’s Law, some will break while others will bend. Green, moist woods such as Pine and Douglas fir, which can hold a high amount of moisture, have much more malleable properties. Harder, dryer woods, such as Oak and Ebony, will sooner break than bend. For this reason, knowledgeable cabinetmakers always choose harder woods such as Maple, Oak and Cherry for their projects. This ensures the integrity of their finished product, regardless of the customer’s domestic environment. Before you buy your new cabinets, or embark on a new woodworking project, make sure you know your woods. Here is a quick reference list that you can refer to:
Soft Woods:· Pine· Douglas Fir· Redwood· Spruce· Poplar· Cedar
Medium Woods:· Beech· Walnut· Rosewood· Ash· Chestnut
Hard Woods:· Mahogany· Ebony· Cherry· Maple· Oak· Teak· Hickory
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr. German is a renowned author and contributor, with appearances in noted international publications such as The Economist, and on news stations such as CNN. Mr. German is the director of marketing at Innovative Stone, whose brands include Stonemark, and is proprietor of Wainscoting Long Island.