I’m a massive fan of timber. All shapes, sizes, colours. And you can’t beat the smell of it - freshly sawn, freshly planed or freshly finished. Here are 11 reasons why wood is good….
1. It lasts for ages
One of the main reasons I use wood as my main material when furniture making is that if treated correctly, it lasts forever. It’s one of the strongest building materials on the planet, is massively resistant and requires very little maintenance. Provided it’s finished correctly in the first place, you
can continue to simply refinish it, breathing new life into that piece of furniture you love time and
2. It’s beautiful
The way the tree has grown and the different summer / winter cycles in its lifetime all add to its specific markings and grain. From oak to walnut to beech to sycamore, to crazy-amazing woods like spalted beech and zirocote, there’s nothing more satisfying than sanding a rough board back to uncover the beauty that’s always underneath.
3. It’s all the same but different
Hardwoods, softwoods - they’re all wood, but have totally different properties, making different types of wood good for different jobs. For example, maple has been shown to have antibacterial properties, which is why the Romans used it for kitchenwares like chopping boards. Ash is super tough, but loves bending, so it’s perfect for chair backs. Beech has a high shock-resistance, so can be used for furniture which is likely to have lots of use, such as office desks. Same same, but different...
4. It has history
Some of the wood I encounter is old. Like really old. Some of the bog-oak I’m currently working with is over 6,000 years old, having lain at the bottom of a swamp and undergone a process of fossilization. It is a really rare form of English timber that, in price, is comparable to some of the world's most expensive tropical hardwoods - and due to its formation process, no two trunks are the same colour. Beat that, concrete.
5. It’s renewable
Wood is the only renewable making / building material available. You chop it down, you plant some more, it grows.
6. It’s also sustainable
Responsibly sourced timber is basically sustainable wood from sustainably managed forests. Given illegal logging and clearing of vast parts of the world’s trees is unfortunately a massive problem, forest stewards are hugely important. They manage the landscape, and ensure forests are able to do the things they do best - help to reduce climate change and keep millions of different plants, wildlife and indigenous people in their leafy homes.
7. It’s super environmentally friendly
Not only does wood remove remove carbon from the atmosphere as well as reducing new carbon emissions going into the atmosphere, the production and processing of wood uses much less energy than most other building materials. As such, wood products also have a significantly lower carbon footprint than say, concrete or metal. Take that again, concrete.
8. It’s a great insulator
Ohhh! Toasty. Due to the air pockets within its cellular structure, wood is 15 times better than masonry and concrete, 400 times better than steel, and 1,770 times better than aluminium at insulating. Great if you’re considering a building project, as it’ll reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home.
9. It makes fire
It doesn’t just insulate - wood can heat your home too. Burn it, make fire, keep warm.
10. Using it to build with is a nicer experience for everyone
Imagine building a timber framed structure vs. one made from concrete and street. The knock-knock-knock of nails in wood vs. the noise and dust of hammer drills and grinders. For house building, wood also usual requires substantially less truck deliveries than concrete does, and it creates minimal waste. What you don’t use, you can usually burn (see point 9).
11. And it has health benefits
No really. It does. Studies have shown that wooden buildings make people feel better. They reduce stress, lower heart rates, calm children in classrooms and improve recovery in hospitals. Blimey. Wood really is good.