General Timber Information:

What is Timber?:

Timber is with out doubt one of the most attractive, durable, versatile and dependable constructional material, with performance and environmental credentials to match, any man made alternative.

Timber is perhaps the most sustainable and renewable construction material available. Correctly harvested, the extraction of timber is not detrimental to the global environment. On the contrary, those who buy and sell wood are acting in a ‘green’ manner. Wood is a renewable resource and is organic, non-toxic, re-cyclable and biodegradable. Equally important, manufacturing a component from wood requires less energy than materials such as steel or aluminium. Less energy means less carbon dioxide in the environment and less acid rain damaging our planet.

As a natural product, timber is subject to considerable variation in colour, grain and character. Variations of this sort are to be expected and do not inherently affect the quality of the end product. It is its variability, which provides the inherent visual attraction of the material.

The Structure of Timber:


The characteristics’ of timber are used to distinguish between hardwoods and softwoods and between different species. Characteristics, which can be seen with the naked eye, include:

Knots: the remains of branches, which originate in the centre of the tree and become embedded in the trunk as the tree grows.

Grain: the general direction of the fibres relative to the axis of the tree.

Texture: depends on the structural character of the timber. Timbers with small cells produce fine textured timber; those with large cells produce a coarse texture.

Figure: refers to the markings seen on the cut surface of the timber formed by the structural features of the timber.

World Forest Locations:

Roughly 20% of the world's land surface is covered by forests, both natural and planted. Coniferous forests encircle the world in the Northern Hemisphere and provide the major source of structural timber.

Two types of constructional softwood are predominant in Europe; European redwoods and European whitewoods. The forests of the USA and Canada are important sources of Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar.

Broad leaved trees predominate in the tropical forests and the number of timber producing species run into the many thousands. Some of the more familiar are iroko and opepe from Africa, teak and meranti from south east Asia and greenheart from South America.

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