Talking Wood Blog: Different Species of Wood in South Africa for Woodworking
Talking Wood: Surrounded by Beautiful Species
Wood brings life to the room as it comes from a living organism. Wood has got a story to tell through the grain, which indicates the conditions it was grown in and the years it’s been around. The visual characteristics of the grain are dependant on each species of wood and add to the distinguishing factors between species.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the species of woods most commonly used in South Africa for furniture making.
South African & Oregon Pine
Pine is amongst the most widespread wood in use. We love pine because it’s cost effective and adds a certain country style to the decor. It’s easily identifiable by its light yellowish colour and subtle knots.
In many ways pine lacks figure, however, it makes up for this with its ability to take to paint very well making it great for a variety of uses. In addition to this, pine has the ability to resist shrinking and swelling so if you’re sending gifts across the ocean it’s definitely a great way to package them.
Oak is one of the more common solid woods used in South Africa. There are over 600 varieties of Oakwood and in essence, they can be broken down into 2 varieties; Red and White. Interestingly enough, Oak derives from the Northen Hemisphere, consequently you can source over 90 different species in North America alone.
Oak by nature is quite strong, durable and heavy. It has an attractive light colour with a bespoke grain and is resistant to fungal attack, thanks to its jam-packed constitution and long-living nature. All of this means if you pick up a piece of Oak furniture it will probably outlive the rest of your other furniture. Furthermore, Oakwood can be used to create so many different styles of furniture; English country, gothic reproductions and even contemporary pieces.
Kiaat or African Teak
Think Kiaat, think character. Kiaat or otherwise known as “African Teak” has loads of character. You’ll typically find Kiaat wood in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Kiaat is also quite durable and strong. Moreover, it has a somewhat pleasant smell due to its spicy fragrance and an aesthetically attractive light brown-yellowish colour. Kiaat is resistant to borer and termite making it a good choice for many South Africans to use for projects that need to last long, such as pieces of furniture or even canoes. Due to its unique characteristics, Kiaat is great for polishing and takes to finishes really well!
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Rubberwood is a light coloured tropical hardwood that is obtained from the still forests of trees grown in rubber plantations. Whilst Rubberwood may be perishable and has very little natural resistance to decay, it is a more environmentally friendly option. Rubberwood makes use of trees that have already served their purpose. Another positive element about Rubberwood is that it has very little shrinkage making it one of the more stable construction materials available for furniture, toys and kitchen accessories.
However, be warned, Rubberwood is not suitable for outdoor furniture! The rain draws the protective chemicals from the wood exposing it to all the elements as well as to fungi. Rather use it for some cost savvy and beautiful indoor coffee tables.
Mahogany is a much sought after wood indigenous to Africa. There are various grades and species all sold under “Mahogany” and they vary vastly in pricing as well as quality.
Mahogany is a hardwood known for its resilience and beauty. The characteristics of this wood vary; It may display stripe, ribbon, broken stripe, rope, ripple, mottle, fiddle back or blister figures, making it a type of wood with loads of character. In addition to this, Mahogany resists swelling, shrinking and warping over time thus making it a popular choice for furniture making.
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