What Is Wood? A Brief Overview

Wood is a material that never fails to captivate and intrigue us. It has been our most ancient natural resource, and the diverse ways it has been shaped over the centuries tell the story of human civilization like no other material can. From tribal masks to wheels, chairs to books, wood is truly a unique material.

One of the most remarkable features of wood is its character - it can bend, twist, split, swell, shrink, and even emit fragrance. It can be hard, soft, rigid, or springy, and its lifespan can vary from centuries to mere seconds in the face of fire. Its tactile and visual qualities are irresistible to almost everyone, and the infinite variety in its grain has universal appeal. As both a structural and decorative medium, wood is exceptionally versatile.

The woodworking traditions and techniques that have been developed over centuries have stood the test of time, and we believe that mastering these techniques is key to successful woodworking. Our expertise in design and modern woodworking techniques has enabled us to create beautiful products that showcase our skills. The advent of power tools has not replaced the old methods but rather modified our approach, and at Olivewing, we find joy in using both hand and power-operated tools.

Woodworking typically involves integrating several techniques, whether making furniture or other wooden structures. Wood must first be carefully selected and squared, and joints marked out, sawn, chiselled, and planed. The pieces are then glued and clamped before being finished. Both hand and power tools are often employed in conjunction with digital woodworking methods, such as CNC (computer numerical control), 3D printing for rapid prototyping and laser cutting, at our state-of-the-art facility.

At Olivewing, we relish the challenge of exploring new techniques and designs with this remarkable material.

Types of Wood

Timber is classified in three ways: trade name, local name, and botanical name. However, only the botanical name is truly reliable for accurate identification. It is crucial to know what type of timber you are purchasing to ensure that it is suitable for its intended purpose. Although many hardwoods that were previously unutilized are now available on the market, it's important to verify their properties before purchasing.

Hardwoods & Softwoods The terms hardwood and softwood refer to wood from deciduous and coniferous trees, respectively. However, this classification can be misleading. While hardwoods are typically hard and softwoods are generally soft, there are exceptions. For instance, yew is a softwood that is incredibly hard and difficult to work with, while balsa is a hardwood that is very soft and easy to cut and shape.

Sustainable Timber

Out of the numerous wood species that exist, only a small percentage is available for commercial use. Among these, only around 70 types can be considered easily accessible. Nevertheless, there is still a significant variety to choose from, often with several species equally suitable for a particular purpose.

At Olivewing, we exclusively utilize wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This organization is an international, non-profit entity established to promote responsible forest management and the production of sustainable timber and wood products, as demonstrated through their FSC wood certification. Their primary objective is to safeguard natural resources by encouraging environmentally sustainable, socially beneficial, and economically viable forest management worldwide. This helps protect animal habitats, indigenous peoples' rights and communities, worker's rights, and areas of significant environmental and cultural importance.

Due to this reason, the two varieties of wood we use are American White Ash and English Oak.

American White Ash Hardwood

Has a greyish-brown appearance, sometimes with a reddish tint, and a generally even, yet fairly coarse texture. It has excellent bending properties and is known for being strong, stiff, and resistant to shock.

This type of hardwood is commonly used for handles, such as those in sports equipment and furniture making. Its strength and durability make it a popular choice for these applications.

English Oak Hardwood

English Oak hardwood typically displays a biscuit-coloured or light brown appearance, with an unpredictable grain pattern that can range from straight to heavily interlocked. When quarter-sawn, this hardwood displays distinctive rays.

This type of hardwood is commonly used for flooring, veneers, furniture, and boat building. Its strength and durability make it a popular choice for these applications, as well as its attractive appearance and unique grain patterns.


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