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Few Facts About Wood

Wood could be 400 years old

Scientists in New Brunswick British Columbia have discovered that plants first developed a structure that could be identified as wood 400 years ago! We don’t think they made any doors at that time though! According to the research, carried out on ancient fossils, woody structures were originally found in small plants which evolved into conifers and much later into the broad leaf trees which are an essential part of life today.

The hardest wood

We’re all familiar with the terms “hardwood” and “softwood” but have you ever wondered how the hardness of wood is measured? The Janka test calculates the hardness of wood by measuring the force needed to embed a steel ball halfway into a piece of wood. The hardest wood is the Australian Buloke which requires a force of 5,060 lbs to embed the ball and the softest is the Cuipo which requires only 22lbs of force, with the familiar balsa wood being the second softest.

The most expensive wood

The most expensive wood in the world comes from one of the rarest trees – the African Blackwood. The wood is used primarily to make woodwind instruments like clarinets and oboes and its value is around $25,000 per cubic metre. Needless to say, the African Blackwood is an endangered species and only found in Tanzania and northern Mozambique, having been harvested to extinction in Ethiopia and Kenya. You’re very unlikely to come across a door made of this, it’s far too precious.

Universal symbol - Tree

The tree has been a symbol of rebirth across many civilisations and the image of a “Tree of Life” had a resonance for many cultures. In pre Christian Britain, the yew was the symbol of cycle of life, probably because of its longevity and because it is an evergreen. It is possible that yew trees were located in sites of pagan worship which were later taken over by the Christian faith and where a church would be built.

What is the most versatile wood?

This is subjective, although a case could be made for Lignum Vitae (also known as the Wood of Life) which originates in Jamaica. Wood from this tree is extremely dense and heavy and contains an abundance of natural oils. The qualities of hardness and lubrication meant this wood was used as part of the works in early clocks as well as on fittings on sailing ships due to its resistance to the corrosive qualities of the marine environment. It has been used for butchers blocks, mortar and pestles as well as truncheons, and on a windy day at a cricket match you may see the bails replaced by ones made of lignum vitae to prevent them being dislodged from the stumps.


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