The list of woods we use for our furniture is inconclusively long. Two major categories of timber are used.
These are the hardwoods and the softwoods.
Softwoods can easily be gotten in almost every country. This is because they can easily be cultivated in most areas. Their maturity time is also short compared to most of the hardwoods making it to be preferred by most farmers and investors.
On the other hand, hardwoods cannot be harvested in any environment. Some countries do not have this form of wood at all. Such countries rely on other sources for them to get this type of wood. In general, some of the woods we use for timber come from the following trees; mahogany, mesquite, maple, walnut, cherry, pine, eucalyptus, cypress etc.
One of the chief sources of timber for our furniture originates from the rain-forests. Rain-forests are found in almost all the continents with the major areas being Africa, Australia, Asia, Central America, South America, Mexico and the islands found within the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the pacific. An example of a rain-forest is the Amazon in the South American continent.
There are several reasons why tropical forests tend to be more preferred source of wood for furniture. These include
High valued tree species such as the balau of Indonesia and Malaysia, Africa’s paduk, oklumé, wenge and African mahogany, nyatoh, kapur, kepmpas, keruing, apitong, ramin, ipe, virola and jatoba of the Amazon are all found in rain-forests alone.
When hardwood is needed for furniture, it can hardly be found in man made forests. Human beings like to cultivate softwood trees because they mature faster and guarantee you quick returns.
At least fifty percent of all tree species are found in the tropical forests only. Other trees found in other forests can also be found here. This means that almost all the tree species can be found in these rain forests. You therefore have a wider diversity for selection when you go to a tropical rain-forest than to other forests.
Timber of high quality standards which demands for very long lengths e.g. New York City’s boardwalks can only be found in rain-forests and nowhere else.
Types of wood
The two major categories of wood that do exist are the softwood and the hardwood. What many do not understand is that the names do not refer to the properties of the wood since some softwoods may essentially be hard and the vice versa.
Softwoods include pine, cypress etc. most of these softwoods come from the coniferous trees which are known to keep their “leaves” throughout the year. They can easily be grown in renewable and managed forests thereby making it possible for more wood to be produced to replace that which has already been used.
Hardwoods generally come from the deciduous trees and they include the beech, the oak, the mahogany and the likes. They generally grow slower than the softwoods. One of the reasons why they are slow is the fact that they lose their leaves every winter. During this time, growth is reduced. Because they take decades and decades to mature, many people prefer not to cultivate them at all.
Importation from other countries
Countries that do not have these rain-forests also benefit a lot from trees logged in countries that enjoy the wealth of tropical rain-forests. This is through exportation and importation. The greatest importers of wood are the United States of America and China. China is the greatest importer by volume while the U.S.A is the greatest importer by dollar.
Some of the great exporters of rain-forest timber are in Africa and Asia. South America also has its share in the exportation of timber used for furniture construction. Gabon for example exports 90% of all the okoume logged down from their rain-forests. Similarly, Brazil exports 70% of the mahogany lumbered within their borders.
It is of great importance for us to know some of the places we do get our furniture timber from.
One of the most widely used woods is that sourced from teak. One of the major reasons why furniture from teak is most preferred is the tree that its timber comes from. Teak wood is very dynamic and can be used when working on any kind of furniture hence it is advantageous not only to the users but also to the carpenters.
The teak tree comes from the verbena tree family and is commonly found in the southern parts of Asia. Most notably, it is found in Myanmar and India together with some parts of Philippines. Teak tree is well spread out within these countries which happen to be among the greatest exporters of the teak timber. We generally get most of our teak timber from these countries.
Mahogany is among the most popular hardwood timber in the world. No wonder, furniture made from mahogany is held with lots of value and have very high price tags with them. Mahogany furniture is found in luxurious homes and offices alone. This tree is majorly found within the rain-forests. Africa is among the greatest exporter of mahogany together with Brazil and other Asian countries. Mahogany of the best quality is however thought to originate from the Caribbean islands.
In general, timber can be found in several places in the world. What matters is the type of timber you want. Interior designers will prefer softwoods that are locally found while carpenters making furniture will need both the hardwoods and the softwoods to satisfy different customer needs. For these reasons, it’s almost impossible that a given region may sufficiently supply itself with all the types of timber it requires.