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Remodeling Resources

All About Wood

  So much of what AK does around Atlanta involves Wood! Cabinetry, floors, molding, furniture - wood, wood, wood and wood. But how often do we really stop to think about wood? Different species? What makes a solid wood? As you consider a remodeling project you may find yourself thinking about wood a little more often. You may find this will answer a lot of your questions, if not, email us!

(Source: Designer Antiques, Ltd.)

WHAT IS SOLID WOOD?

Solid wood means that each exposed part is made of genuine hardwood lumber. For large surfaces, boards are bonded with stronger-than-wood glue and other wood joinery techniques (biscuit joined). Using solid hardwoods in furniture is in contrast with much of the imported, mass-produced items on the market today. Each species of wood will have characteristics unique to its species, but also each board displays its own characteristics. This is the result of the lifetime of the individual tree from which it came. Solid hardwood furniture offers the potential for many generations of hard use. While most nicks and scratches can be repaired, in many ways this only adds to the character of the furniture.

WHAT IS RECLAIMED WOOD?

Reclaimed or recycled wood is not only environmentally friendly but also can also be more attractive and more durable than new wood. There are certain characteristics that only time and use can create in the color and texture.  Because a lot of reclaimed wood comes from old-growth trees, the wood itself can be denser and more durable, rendering any furniture made with reclaimed wood likely to endure even longer.

HOW TO CHOOSE FROM THE DIFFERENT WOODS?

Woods are the palette of the furniture maker. They provide color, texture, strength, and beauty to handmade furniture. Each type of wood has characteristics to be considered when building a piece of furniture. Some are very hard and durable; some are flexible and suitable for bending. "Hardwood" is a term applied to trees that lose their leaves in winter. "Softwood" describes evergreens such as fir, pine and redwood. Every wood has a distinctive grain structure. Woods such as oak and walnut have open-pores. These woods have small holes in their surface that give the piece a textural quality. When a stain is applied to this type of surface, the stain tends to collect in these pores and appears darker than the rest of the piece. Tight grained woods such as maple and cherry are smooth to the touch and can take finish evenly.

SPECIES:

Pine: Although Pine is softer than Cherry, Oak, or Walnut, it is fairly durable. Pine has more grain pattern than Cherry but not as much as Oak. Despite the fact it is not as resistant to scuffs, dents and abrasions as the hardwoods, it is often used as flooring. Its color can vary from white to pale yellow with a reddish tinge. Pine will darken to some degree with age and air exposure, but not as much as Cherry. Pine takes most finishes well.

Cherry: Like all fruit trees, CHERRY belongs to the rose family and the wood naturally has red tones.  Grown in the eastern half of the United States, Cherry helped define American traditional design because Colonial cabinetmakers recognized its superior woodworking qualities. Cherry wood is moderately hard, strong, and close-grained with a high resistance to warping. Cherry's grain is more subdued than some other hardwood species, but it also oxidizes (darkens) over time to a deeper reddish brown color with age and exposure to sunlight. It also takes a stain well offering more finish options.

Oak: The Oaks (both red and white) are the most abundant hardwood species. It would be difficult to name a wood with a longer and more illustrious history in furnishings and interior design. Oak was a favorite of early English craftsmen and a prized material for American Colonists. A big, slow growing tree, red oak takes 20 years to mature and lives an average of 300 years.  Oak is most often straight grained, and open pored. The grain is distinguished by rays, which reflect light and add to its attractiveness Heavy, strong, and hard, Oak is durable under exposure and offers great wear resistance. Because of its hardness, oak can be difficult to carve.

Walnut: Dark brown in nature, the WALNUT wood is strong, hard, and exceptionally durable, without being excessively heavy. Walnut also has superior physical properties, making it the preferred wood for airplane propellers and gun stocks. It is straight-grained in the trunk of the tree, but possesses a wavy grain in wood found closer to the roots. Walnut wood finishes beautifully, holding paint and stain exceptionally well, and is resistant to shrinking and warping. It takes a stain well, but given the dark brown nature of walnut, most finishes are in the brown family.

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