10 Weird Facts About Wood

Published Wednesday 26th April 2017

Wood comes from trees, and that’s all the majority of the world seems to know. However, here at International Timber, we’re aware of all the weird and wonderful facts about wood, and we want to share some of them with you.

So, what don’t you know about the wonderful world of wood?

  • Trees never die of old age – trees are only ever killed by elements outside of their control, including insects, diseases and people. That’s why sometimes, if they’re really lucky, a tree could live to well over 1000 years old.
  • The terms softwood and hardwood describe the leaves, seeds and structure of the trees rather than the type of wood they produce. So the next time you pick up a piece of timber and think it’s a hardwood because, well, it’s hard – think again.
  • In the USA the shade and wind-proofing that trees deliver reduce annual heating and cooling costs by a whopping $2.1 billion. So they’re useful when they’re planted, and when they’re being used to make beautiful furniture and builds.
  • Some trees talk to one another. It’s true. When willows are threatened by insect pests, they emit a chemical warning to nearby trees, who secrete more tannin to put the invaders off. Trees are smarter than we think!
  • Not all trees grow big and strong - the world’s shortest tree is the dwarf willow, which lives in northerly and Arctic Tundra regions and rarely grows more than a couple of inches high – roughly up to your ankle.
  • The mighty General Sherman, a Giant Sequoia, is thought by many to be the biggest living organism in the world, at a massive 274 ft high and 104ft wide!
  • Ever wonder how many types of tree you’ve seen in your lifetime? Well more than 23,000 different species of trees can be found on Earth.
  • It’s a well-known fact that wood floats in water, but that’s not exactly true. In order to sink in water the specific gravity of the wood, has to be 1.00 or more. There are 17 that sink: African Blackwood, African Ebony, Black Ironwood, Brazilwood, CocoBolo, East Indian Satinwood, Ekki, Greenheart, IPE, Kingwood, Lignum Vitae, Macassar Ebony, Marblewood, Satine (Bloodwood), Snakewood, Sucupira and White Topped Box.
  • When you think of a wooden house vs a metal house, you can assume that the wooden house will be warmer. But just how much warmer? Well, wood is 400 times warmer than steel! This is due to wood being an effective natural insulator with significant thermal mass properties. This helps to retain heat from the day and release it at night. Perfect for building homes!
  • As timber is considered carbon-negative, it’s been confirmed by a host of international studies that timber construction is an environmentally responsible way to build. Excellent.

 

BONUS: Over 70% of the developed world lives in timber framed housing – there’s a reason why timber is such a popular choice!

 

And that’s it

Do you have any cool facts that you’d like to share? If so, send us a tweet and share the knowledge. If you need to stock up on your woodworking supplies so you can join the timber-appreciation bandwagon, contact us today and find out how we can help.