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Wood is a structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic material  a natural composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and embedded in a matrix of lignin that resists compression. Wood is sometimes defined as only the secondary xylem in the stems of trees, [1] or more broadly to include the same type of tissue elsewhere, such as in the roots of trees or shrubs. In a living tree it performs a support function, enabling woody plants to grow large or to stand up by themselves. It also conveys water and nutrients between the leaves, other growing tissues, and the roots. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, woodchips, or fiber.


Wood has been used for thousands of years for fuel, as a construction material, for making tools and weapons, furniture and paper. More recently it emerged as a feedstock for the production of purified cellulose and its derivatives, such as cellophane and cellulose acetate.

As of 2020, the growing stock of forests worldwide was about 557 billion cubic meters. [2] As an abundant, carbon-neutral [3] renewable resource, woody materials have been of intense interest as a source of renewable energy. In 2008, approximately 3.97 billion cubic meters of wood were harvested. [2] Dominant uses were for furniture and building construction. [4]


A 2011 discovery in the Canadian province of New Brunswick yielded the earliest known plants to have grown wood, approximately 395 to 400 million years ago. [5] [6]

Wood can be dated by carbon dating and in some species by dendrochronology to determine when a wooden object was created.

People have used wood for thousands of years for many purposes, including as a fuel or as a construction material for making houses, tools, weapons, furniture, packaging, artworks, and paper. Known constructions using wood date back ten thousand years. Buildings like the longhouses in Neolithic Europe were made primarily of wood.

Recent use of wood has been enhanced by the addition of steel and bronze into construction. [7]

The year-to-year variation in tree-ring widths and isotopic abundances gives clues to the prevailing climate at the time a tree was cut. [8]

Physical properties

Diagram of secondary growth in a tree showing idealized vertical and horizontal sections. A new layer of wood is added in each growing season, thickening the stem, existing branches and roots, to form a growth ring. Tree secondary growth diagram.svg
Diagram of secondary growth in a tree showing idealized vertical and horizontal sections. A new layer of wood is added in each growing season, thickening the stem, existing branches and roots, to form a growth ring.

Growth rings

Wood, in the strict sense, is yielded by trees, which increase in diameter by the formation, between the existing wood and the inner bark, of new woody layers which envelop the entire stem, living branches, and roots. This process is known as secondary growth; it is the result of cell division in the vascular cambium, a lateral meristem, and subsequent expansion of the new cells. These cells then go on to form thickened secondary cell walls, composed mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.

Where the differences between the seasons are distinct, e.g. New Zealand, growth can occur in a discrete annual or seasonal pattern, leading to growth rings; these can usually be most clearly seen on the end of a log, but are also visible on the other surfaces. If the distinctiveness between seasons is annual (as is the case in equatorial regions, e.g. Singapore), these growth rings are referred to as annual rings. Where there is little seasonal difference growth rings are likely to be indistinct or absent. If the bark of the tree has been removed in a particular area, the rings will likely be deformed as the plant overgrows the scar.

If there are differences within a growth ring, then the part of a growth ring nearest the center of the tree, and formed early in the growing season when growth is rapid, is usually composed of wider elements. It is usually lighter in color than that near the outer portion of the ring, and is known as earlywood or springwood. The outer portion formed later in the season is then known as the latewood or summerwood. [9] There are major differences, depending on the kind of wood. If a tree grows all its life in the open and the conditions of soil and site remain unchanged, it will make its most rapid growth in youth, and gradually decline. The annual rings of growth are for many years quite wide, but later they become narrower and narrower. Since each succeeding ring is laid down on the outside of the wood previously formed, it follows that unless a tree materially increases its production of wood from year to year, the rings must necessarily become thinner as the trunk gets wider. As a tree reaches maturity its crown becomes more open and the annual wood production is lessened, thereby reducing still more the width of the growth rings. In the case of forest-grown trees so much depends upon the competition of the trees in their struggle for light and nourishment that periods of rapid and slow growth may alternate. Some trees, such as southern oaks, maintain the same width of ring for hundreds of years. On the whole, as a tree gets larger in diameter the width of the growth rings decreases.


A knot on a tree trunk TreeKnot.jpg
A knot on a tree trunk

As a tree grows, lower branches often die, and their bases may become overgrown and enclosed by subsequent layers of trunk wood, forming a type of imperfection known as a knot. The dead branch may not be attached to the trunk wood except at its base, and can drop out after the tree has been sawn into boards. Knots affect the technical properties of the wood, usually reducing tension strength, [10] but may be exploited for visual effect. In a longitudinally sawn plank, a knot will appear as a roughly circular "solid" (usually darker) piece of wood around which the grain of the rest of the wood "flows" (parts and rejoins). Within a knot, the direction of the wood (grain direction) is up to 90 degrees different from the grain direction of the regular wood.

In the tree a knot is either the base of a side branch or a dormant bud. A knot (when the base of a side branch) is conical in shape (hence the roughly circular cross-section) with the inner tip at the point in stem diameter at which the plant's vascular cambium was located when the branch formed as a bud.

In grading lumber and structural timber, knots are classified according to their form, size, soundness, and the firmness with which they are held in place. This firmness is affected by, among other factors, the length of time for which the branch was dead while the attaching stem continued to grow.

Wood knot in vertical section Wood Knot.JPG
Wood knot in vertical section

Knots materially affect cracking and warping, ease in working, and cleavability of timber. They are defects which weaken timber and lower its value for structural purposes where strength is an important consideration. The weakening effect is much more serious when timber is subjected to forces perpendicular to the grain and/or tension than when under load along the grain and/or compression. The extent to which knots affect the strength of a beam depends upon their position, size, number, and condition. A knot on the upper side is compressed, while one on the lower side is subjected to tension. If there is a season check in the knot, as is often the case, it will offer little resistance to this tensile stress. Small knots may be located along the neutral plane of a beam and increase the strength by preventing longitudinal shearing. Knots in a board or plank are least injurious when they extend through it at right angles to its broadest surface. Knots which occur near the ends of a beam do not weaken it. Sound knots which occur in the central portion one-fourth the height of the beam from either edge are not serious defects.

Samuel J. Record, The Mechanical Properties of Wood [11]

Knots do not necessarily influence the stiffness of structural timber, this will depend on the size and location. Stiffness and elastic strength are more dependent upon the sound wood than upon localized defects. The breaking strength is very susceptible to defects. Sound knots do not weaken wood when subject to compression parallel to the grain.

In some decorative applications, wood with knots may be desirable to add visual interest. In applications where wood is painted, such as skirting boards, fascia boards, door frames and furniture, resins present in the timber may continue to 'bleed' through to the surface of a knot for months or even years after manufacture and show as a yellow or brownish stain. A knot primer paint or solution (knotting), correctly applied during preparation, may do much to reduce this problem but it is difficult to control completely, especially when using mass-produced kiln-dried timber stocks.

Heartwood and sapwood

A section of a yew branch showing 27 annual growth rings, pale sapwood, dark heartwood, and pith (center dark spot). The dark radial lines are small knots. Taxus wood.jpg
A section of a yew branch showing 27 annual growth rings, pale sapwood, dark heartwood, and pith (center dark spot). The dark radial lines are small knots.

Heartwood (or duramen [12] ) is wood that as a result of a naturally occurring chemical transformation has become more resistant to decay. Heartwood formation is a genetically programmed process that occurs spontaneously. Some uncertainty exists as to whether the wood dies during heartwood formation, as it can still chemically react to decay organisms, but only once. [13]

The term heartwood derives solely from its position and not from any vital importance to the tree. This is evidenced by the fact that a tree can thrive with its heart completely decayed. Some species begin to form heartwood very early in life, so having only a thin layer of live sapwood, while in others the change comes slowly. Thin sapwood is characteristic of such species as chestnut, black locust, mulberry, osage-orange, and sassafras, while in maple, ash, hickory, hackberry, beech, and pine, thick sapwood is the rule. [14] Some others never form heartwood.

Heartwood is often visually distinct from the living sapwood, and can be distinguished in a cross-section where the boundary will tend to follow the growth rings. For example, it is sometimes much darker. Other processes such as decay or insect invasion can also discolor wood, even in woody plants that do not form heartwood, which may lead to confusion.

Sapwood (or alburnum [15] ) is the younger, outermost wood; in the growing tree it is living wood, [16] and its principal functions are to conduct water from the roots to the leaves and to store up and give back according to the season the reserves prepared in the leaves. By the time they become competent to conduct water, all xylem tracheids and vessels have lost their cytoplasm and the cells are therefore functionally dead. All wood in a tree is first formed as sapwood. The more leaves a tree bears and the more vigorous its growth, the larger the volume of sapwood required. Hence trees making rapid growth in the open have thicker sapwood for their size than trees of the same species growing in dense forests. Sometimes trees (of species that do form heartwood) grown in the open may become of considerable size, 30 cm (12 in) or more in diameter, before any heartwood begins to form, for example, in second-growth hickory, or open-grown pines.

Cross-section of an oak log showing growth rings Cross-section of an Oak Log Showing Growth Rings.jpg
Cross-section of an oak log showing growth rings

No definite relation exists between the annual rings of growth and the amount of sapwood. Within the same species the cross-sectional area of the sapwood is very roughly proportional to the size of the crown of the tree. If the rings are narrow, more of them are required than where they are wide. As the tree gets larger, the sapwood must necessarily become thinner or increase materially in volume. Sapwood is relatively thicker in the upper portion of the trunk of a tree than near the base, because the age and the diameter of the upper sections are less.

When a tree is very young it is covered with limbs almost, if not entirely, to the ground, but as it grows older some or all of them will eventually die and are either broken off or fall off. Subsequent growth of wood may completely conceal the stubs which will remain as knots. No matter how smooth and clear a log is on the outside, it is more or less knotty near the middle. Consequently, the sapwood of an old tree, and particularly of a forest-grown tree, will be freer from knots than the inner heartwood. Since in most uses of wood, knots are defects that weaken the timber and interfere with its ease of working and other properties, it follows that a given piece of sapwood, because of its position in the tree, may well be stronger than a piece of heartwood from the same tree.

Different pieces of wood cut from a large tree may differ decidedly, particularly if the tree is big and mature. In some trees, the wood laid on late in the life of a tree is softer, lighter, weaker, and more even-textured than that produced earlier, but in other trees, the reverse applies. This may or may not correspond to heartwood and sapwood. In a large log the sapwood, because of the time in the life of the tree when it was grown, may be inferior in hardness, strength, and toughness to equally sound heartwood from the same log. In a smaller tree, the reverse may be true.


The wood of coast redwood is distinctively red. Sequoia wood.jpg
The wood of coast redwood is distinctively red.

In species which show a distinct difference between heartwood and sapwood the natural color of heartwood is usually darker than that of the sapwood, and very frequently the contrast is conspicuous (see section of yew log above). This is produced by deposits in the heartwood of chemical substances, so that a dramatic color variation does not imply a significant difference in the mechanical properties of heartwood and sapwood, although there may be a marked biochemical difference between the two.

Some experiments on very resinous longleaf pine specimens indicate an increase in strength, due to the resin which increases the strength when dry. Such resin-saturated heartwood is called "fat lighter". Structures built of fat lighter are almost impervious to rot and termites, and very flammable. Tree stumps of old longleaf pines are often dug, split into small pieces and sold as kindling for fires. Stumps thus dug may actually remain a century or more since being cut. Spruce impregnated with crude resin and dried is also greatly increased in strength thereby.

Since the latewood of a growth ring is usually darker in color than the earlywood, this fact may be used in visually judging the density, and therefore the hardness and strength of the material. This is particularly the case with coniferous woods. In ring-porous woods the vessels of the early wood often appear on a finished surface as darker than the denser latewood, though on cross sections of heartwood the reverse is commonly true. Otherwise the color of wood is no indication of strength.

Abnormal discoloration of wood often denotes a diseased condition, indicating unsoundness. The black check in western hemlock is the result of insect attacks. The reddish-brown streaks so common in hickory and certain other woods are mostly the result of injury by birds. The discoloration is merely an indication of an injury, and in all probability does not of itself affect the properties of the wood. Certain rot-producing fungi impart to wood characteristic colors which thus become symptomatic of weakness. Ordinary sap-staining is due to fungal growth, but does not necessarily produce a weakening effect.

Water content

Water occurs in living wood in three locations, namely:

Equilibrium moisture content in wood. Hailwood-Horrobin EMC graph.svg
Equilibrium moisture content in wood.

In heartwood it occurs only in the first and last forms. Wood that is thoroughly air-dried (in equilibrium with the moisture content of the air) retains 8–16% of the water in the cell walls, and none, or practically none, in the other forms. Even oven-dried wood retains a small percentage of moisture, but for all except chemical purposes, may be considered absolutely dry.

The general effect of the water content upon the wood substance is to render it softer and more pliable. A similar effect occurs in the softening action of water on rawhide, paper, or cloth. Within certain limits, the greater the water content, the greater its softening effect. The moisture in wood can be measured by several different moisture meters.

Drying produces a decided increase in the strength of wood, particularly in small specimens. An extreme example is the case of a completely dry spruce block 5 cm in section, which will sustain a permanent load four times as great as a green (undried) block of the same size will.

The greatest strength increase due to drying is in the ultimate crushing strength, and strength at elastic limit in endwise compression; these are followed by the modulus of rupture, and stress at elastic limit in cross-bending, while the modulus of elasticity is least affected. [11]


Magnified cross-section of black walnut, showing the vessels, rays (white lines) and annual rings: this is intermediate between diffuse-porous and ring-porous, with vessel size declining gradually BlkWalnut-x-section.jpg
Magnified cross-section of black walnut, showing the vessels, rays (white lines) and annual rings: this is intermediate between diffuse-porous and ring-porous, with vessel size declining gradually

Wood is a heterogeneous, hygroscopic, cellular and anisotropic (or more specifically, orthotropic) material. It consists of cells, and the cell walls are composed of micro-fibrils of cellulose (40–50%) and hemicellulose (15–25%) impregnated with lignin (15–30%). [17]

In coniferous or softwood species the wood cells are mostly of one kind, tracheids, and as a result the material is much more uniform in structure than that of most hardwoods. There are no vessels ("pores") in coniferous wood such as one sees so prominently in oak and ash, for example.

The structure of hardwoods is more complex. [18] The water conducting capability is mostly taken care of by vessels: in some cases (oak, chestnut, ash) these are quite large and distinct, in others (buckeye, poplar, willow) too small to be seen without a hand lens. In discussing such woods it is customary to divide them into two large classes, ring-porous and diffuse-porous. [19]

In ring-porous species, such as ash, black locust, catalpa, chestnut, elm, hickory, mulberry, and oak, [19] the larger vessels or pores (as cross sections of vessels are called) are localized in the part of the growth ring formed in spring, thus forming a region of more or less open and porous tissue. The rest of the ring, produced in summer, is made up of smaller vessels and a much greater proportion of wood fibers. These fibers are the elements which give strength and toughness to wood, while the vessels are a source of weakness. [20]

In diffuse-porous woods the pores are evenly sized so that the water conducting capability is scattered throughout the growth ring instead of being collected in a band or row. Examples of this kind of wood are alder, [19] basswood, [21] birch, [19] buckeye, maple, willow, and the Populus species such as aspen, cottonwood and poplar. [19] Some species, such as walnut and cherry, are on the border between the two classes, forming an intermediate group. [21]

Earlywood and latewood

In softwood

Earlywood and latewood in a softwood; radial view, growth rings closely spaced in Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir Wood Pseudotsuga taxifolia.jpg
Earlywood and latewood in a softwood; radial view, growth rings closely spaced in Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir

In temperate softwoods, there often is a marked difference between latewood and earlywood. The latewood will be denser than that formed early in the season. When examined under a microscope, the cells of dense latewood are seen to be very thick-walled and with very small cell cavities, while those formed first in the season have thin walls and large cell cavities. The strength is in the walls, not the cavities. Hence the greater the proportion of latewood, the greater the density and strength. In choosing a piece of pine where strength or stiffness is the important consideration, the principal thing to observe is the comparative amounts of earlywood and latewood. The width of ring is not nearly so important as the proportion and nature of the latewood in the ring.

If a heavy piece of pine is compared with a lightweight piece it will be seen at once that the heavier one contains a larger proportion of latewood than the other, and is therefore showing more clearly demarcated growth rings. In white pines there is not much contrast between the different parts of the ring, and as a result the wood is very uniform in texture and is easy to work. In hard pines, on the other hand, the latewood is very dense and is deep-colored, presenting a very decided contrast to the soft, straw-colored earlywood.

It is not only the proportion of latewood, but also its quality, that counts. In specimens that show a very large proportion of latewood it may be noticeably more porous and weigh considerably less than the latewood in pieces that contain less latewood. One can judge comparative density, and therefore to some extent strength, by visual inspection.

No satisfactory explanation can as yet be given for the exact mechanisms determining the formation of earlywood and latewood. Several factors may be involved. In conifers, at least, rate of growth alone does not determine the proportion of the two portions of the ring, for in some cases the wood of slow growth is very hard and heavy, while in others the opposite is true. The quality of the site where the tree grows undoubtedly affects the character of the wood formed, though it is not possible to formulate a rule governing it. In general, where strength or ease of working is essential, woods of moderate to slow growth should be chosen.

In ring-porous woods

Earlywood and latewood in a ring-porous wood (ash) in a Fraxinus excelsior; tangential view, wide growth rings Wood Fraxinus excelsior.jpg
Earlywood and latewood in a ring-porous wood (ash) in a Fraxinus excelsior ; tangential view, wide growth rings

In ring-porous woods, each season's growth is always well defined, because the large pores formed early in the season abut on the denser tissue of the year before.

In the case of the ring-porous hardwoods, there seems to exist a pretty definite relation between the rate of growth of timber and its properties. This may be briefly summed up in the general statement that the more rapid the growth or the wider the rings of growth, the heavier, harder, stronger, and stiffer the wood. This, it must be remembered, applies only to ring-porous woods such as oak, ash, hickory, and others of the same group, and is, of course, subject to some exceptions and limitations.

In ring-porous woods of good growth, it is usually the latewood in which the thick-walled, strength-giving fibers are most abundant. As the breadth of ring diminishes, this latewood is reduced so that very slow growth produces comparatively light, porous wood composed of thin-walled vessels and wood parenchyma. In good oak, these large vessels of the earlywood occupy from six to ten percent of the volume of the log, while in inferior material they may make up 25% or more. The latewood of good oak is dark colored and firm, and consists mostly of thick-walled fibers which form one-half or more of the wood. In inferior oak, this latewood is much reduced both in quantity and quality. Such variation is very largely the result of rate of growth.

Wide-ringed wood is often called "second-growth", because the growth of the young timber in open stands after the old trees have been removed is more rapid than in trees in a closed forest, and in the manufacture of articles where strength is an important consideration such "second-growth" hardwood material is preferred. This is particularly the case in the choice of hickory for handles and spokes. Here not only strength, but toughness and resilience are important. [11]

The results of a series of tests on hickory by the U.S. Forest Service show that:

"The work or shock-resisting ability is greatest in wide-ringed wood that has from 5 to 14 rings per inch (rings 1.8-5 mm thick), is fairly constant from 14 to 38 rings per inch (rings 0.7–1.8 mm thick), and decreases rapidly from 38 to 47 rings per inch (rings 0.5–0.7 mm thick). The strength at maximum load is not so great with the most rapid-growing wood; it is maximum with from 14 to 20 rings per inch (rings 1.3–1.8 mm thick), and again becomes less as the wood becomes more closely ringed. The natural deduction is that wood of first-class mechanical value shows from 5 to 20 rings per inch (rings 1.3–5 mm thick) and that slower growth yields poorer stock. Thus the inspector or buyer of hickory should discriminate against timber that has more than 20 rings per inch (rings less than 1.3 mm thick). Exceptions exist, however, in the case of normal growth upon dry situations, in which the slow-growing material may be strong and tough." [22]

The effect of rate of growth on the qualities of chestnut wood is summarized by the same authority as follows:

"When the rings are wide, the transition from spring wood to summer wood is gradual, while in the narrow rings the spring wood passes into summer wood abruptly. The width of the spring wood changes but little with the width of the annual ring, so that the narrowing or broadening of the annual ring is always at the expense of the summer wood. The narrow vessels of the summer wood make it richer in wood substance than the spring wood composed of wide vessels. Therefore, rapid-growing specimens with wide rings have more wood substance than slow-growing trees with narrow rings. Since the more the wood substance the greater the weight, and the greater the weight the stronger the wood, chestnuts with wide rings must have stronger wood than chestnuts with narrow rings. This agrees with the accepted view that sprouts (which always have wide rings) yield better and stronger wood than seedling chestnuts, which grow more slowly in diameter." [22]

In diffuse-porous woods

In the diffuse-porous woods, the demarcation between rings is not always so clear and in some cases is almost (if not entirely) invisible to the unaided eye. Conversely, when there is a clear demarcation there may not be a noticeable difference in structure within the growth ring.

In diffuse-porous woods, as has been stated, the vessels or pores are even-sized, so that the water conducting capability is scattered throughout the ring instead of collected in the earlywood. The effect of rate of growth is, therefore, not the same as in the ring-porous woods, approaching more nearly the conditions in the conifers. In general, it may be stated that such woods of medium growth afford stronger material than when very rapidly or very slowly grown. In many uses of wood, total strength is not the main consideration. If ease of working is prized, wood should be chosen with regard to its uniformity of texture and straightness of grain, which will in most cases occur when there is little contrast between the latewood of one season's growth and the earlywood of the next.


Trunks of the coconut palm, a monocot, in Java. From this perspective these look not much different from trunks of a dicot or conifer Gelugu (coconut wood) in Klaten, Java.jpg
Trunks of the coconut palm, a monocot, in Java. From this perspective these look not much different from trunks of a dicot or conifer

Structural material that resembles ordinary, "dicot" or conifer timber in its gross handling characteristics is produced by a number of monocot plants, and these also are colloquially called wood. Of these, bamboo, botanically a member of the grass family, has considerable economic importance, larger culms being widely used as a building and construction material and in the manufacture of engineered flooring, panels and veneer. Another major plant group that produces material that often is called wood are the palms. Of much less importance are plants such as Pandanus, Dracaena and Cordyline. With all this material, the structure and composition of the processed raw material is quite different from ordinary wood.

Specific gravity

The single most revealing property of wood as an indicator of wood quality is specific gravity (Timell 1986), [23] as both pulp yield and lumber strength are determined by it. Specific gravity is the ratio of the mass of a substance to the mass of an equal volume of water; density is the ratio of a mass of a quantity of a substance to the volume of that quantity and is expressed in mass per unit substance, e.g., grams per milliliter (g/cm3 or g/ml). The terms are essentially equivalent as long as the metric system is used. Upon drying, wood shrinks and its density increases. Minimum values are associated with green (water-saturated) wood and are referred to as basic specific gravity (Timell 1986). [23]

The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory lists a variety of ways to define specific gravity (G) and density (ρ) for wood: [24]

SymbolMass basisVolume basis
Gb (basic)OvendryGreen
G12Ovendry12% MC
GxOvendryx% MC
ρ1212% MC12% MC
ρxx% MCx% MC

The FPL has adopted Gb and G12 for specific gravity, in accordance with the ASTM D2555 [25] standard. These are scientifically useful, but don't represent any condition that could physically occur. The FPL Wood Handbook also provides formulas for approximately converting any of these measurements to any other.


Wood density is determined by multiple growth and physiological factors compounded into "one fairly easily measured wood characteristic" (Elliott 1970). [26]

Age, diameter, height, radial (trunk) growth, geographical location, site and growing conditions, silvicultural treatment, and seed source all to some degree influence wood density. Variation is to be expected. Within an individual tree, the variation in wood density is often as great as or even greater than that between different trees (Timell 1986). [23] Variation of specific gravity within the bole of a tree can occur in either the horizontal or vertical direction.

Because the specific gravity as defined above uses an unrealistic condition, woodworkers tend to use the "average dried weight", which is a density based on mass at 12% moisture content and volume at the same (ρ12). This condition occurs when the wood is at equilibrium moisture content with air at about 65% relative humidity and temperature at 30 °C (86 °F). This density is expressed in units of kg/m3 or lbs/ft3.


The following tables list the mechanical properties of wood and lumber plant species, including bamboo. See also Mechanical properties of tonewoods for additional properties.

Wood properties: [27] [28]

Common nameScientific nameMoisture contentDensity (kg/m3)Compressive strength (megapascals)Flexural strength (megapascals)
Red Alder Alnus rubra Green37020.445
Red Alder Alnus rubra 12.00%41040.168
Black Ash Fraxinus nigra Green45015.941
Black Ash Fraxinus nigra 12.00%49041.287
Blue Ash Fraxinus quadrangulata Green53024.866
Blue Ash Fraxinus quadrangulata 12.00%58048.195
Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica Green5302966
Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica 12.00%56048.897
Oregon Ash Fraxinus latifolia Green50024.252
Oregon Ash Fraxinus latifolia 12.00%55041.688
White Ash Fraxinus americana Green55027.566
White Ash Fraxinus americana 12.00%60051.1103
Bigtooth Aspen Populus grandidentata Green36017.237
Bigtooth Aspen Populus grandidentata 12.00%39036.563
Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides Green35014.835
Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides 12.00%38029.358
American Basswood Tilia americana Green32015.334
American Basswood Tilia americana 12.00%37032.660
American Beech Fagus grandifolia Green56024.559
American Beech Fagus grandifolia 12.00%64050.3103
Paper Birch Betula papyrifera Green48016.344
Paper Birch Betula papyrifera 12.00%55039.285
Sweet Birch Betula lenta Green60025.865
Sweet Birch Betula lenta 12.00%65058.9117
Yellow Birch Betula alleghaniensis Green55023.357
Yellow Birch Betula alleghaniensis 12.00%62056.3114
Butternut Juglans cinerea Green36016.737
Butternut Juglans cinerea 12.00%38036.256
Black Cherry Prunus serotina Green47024.455
Blach Cherry Prunus serotina 12.00%5004985
American Chestnut Castanea dentata Green4001739
American Chestnut Castanea dentata 12.00%43036.759
Balsam Poplar Cottonwood Populus balsamifera Green31011.727
Balsam Poplar Cottonwood Populus balsamifera 12.00%34027.747
Black Cottonwood Populus trichocarpa Green31015.234
Black Cottonwood Populus trichocarpa 12.00%3503159
Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides Green37015.737
Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides 12.00%40033.959
American Elm Ulmus americana Green46020.150
American Elm Ulmus americana 12.00%50038.181
Rock Elm Ulmus thomasii Green57026.166
Rock Elm Ulmus thomasii 12.00%63048.6102
Slippery Elm Ulmus rubra Green48022.955
Slippery Elm Ulmus rubra 12.00%53043.990
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis Green49018.345
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis 12.00%53037.576
Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis Green60031.571
Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis 12.00%66062.3118
Nutmeg Hickory Carya myristiciformis Green56027.463
Nutmeg Hickory Carya myristiciformis 12.00%60047.6114
Pecan Hickory Carya illinoinensis Green60027.568
Pecan Hickory Carya illinoinensis 12.00%66054.194
Water Hickory Carya aquatica Green61032.174
Water Hickory Carya aquatica 12.00%62059.3123
Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa Green64030.977
Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa 12.00%72061.6132
Pignut Hickory Carya glabra Green66033.281
Pignut Hickory Carya glabra 12.00%75063.4139
Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata Green64031.676
Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata 12.00%72063.5139
Shellbark Hickory Carya laciniosa Green6202772
Shellbark Hickory Carya laciniosa 12.00%69055.2125
Honeylocust Gleditsia triacanthos Green60030.570
Honeylocust Gleditsia triacanthos 12.00%60051.7101
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia Green66046.995
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia 12.00%69070.2134
Cucumber Tree Magnolia Magnolia acuminata Green44021.651
Cucumber Tree Magnolia Magnolia acuminata 12.00%48043.585
Southern Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora Green46018.647
Southern Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora 12.00%50037.677
Bigleaf Maple Acer macrophyllum Green44022.351
Bigleaf Maple Acer macrophyllum 12.00%4804174
Black Maple Acer nigrum Green52022.554
Black Maple Acer nigrum 12.00%57046.192
Red Maple Acer rubrum Green49022.653
Red Maple Acer rubrum 12.00%54045.192
Silver Maple Acer saccharinum Green44017.240
Silver Maple Acer saccharinum 12.00%4703661
Sugar Maple Acer saccharum Green56027.765
Sugar Maple Acer saccharum 12.00%63054109
Black Red Oak Quercus velutina Green56023.957
Black Red Oak Quercus velutina 12.00%6104596
Cherrybark Red Oak Quercus pagoda Green61031.974
Cherrybark Red Oak Quercus pagoda 12.00%68060.3125
Laurel Red Oak Quercus hemisphaerica Green56021.954
Laurel Red Oak Quercus hemisphaerica 12.00%63048.187
Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra Green56023.757
Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra 12.00%63046.699
Pin Red Oak Quercus palustris Green58025.457
Pin Red Oak Quercus palustris 12.00%6304797
Scarlet Red Oak Quercus coccinea Green60028.272
Scarlet Red Oak Quercus coccinea 12.00%67057.4120
Southern Red Oak Quercus falcata Green52020.948
Southern Red Oak Quercus falcata 12.00%5904275
Water Red Oak Quercus nigra Green56025.861
Water Red Oak Quercus nigra 12.00%63046.7106
Willow Red Oak Quercus phellos Green56020.751
Willow Red Oak Quercus phellos 12.00%69048.5100
Bur White Oak Quercus macrocarpa Green58022.750
Bur White Oak Quercus macrocarpa 12.00%64041.871
Chestnut White Oak Quercus montana Green57024.355
Chestnut White Oak Quercus montana 12.00%66047.192
Live White Oak Quercus virginiana Green80037.482
Live White Oak Quercus virginiana 12.00%88061.4127
Overcup White Oak Quercus lyrata Green57023.255
Overcup White Oak Quercus lyrata 12.00%63042.787
Post White Oak Quercus stellata Green6002456
Post White Oak Quercus stellata 12.00%67045.391
Swamp Chestnut White Oak Quercus michauxii Green60024.459
Swamp Chestnut White Oak Quercus michauxii 12.00%67050.196
Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor Green64030.168
Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor 12.00%72059.3122
White Oak Quercus alba Green60024.557
White Oak Quercus alba 12.00%68051.3105
Sassafras Sassafras albidum Green42018.841
Sassafras Sassafras albidum 12.00%46032.862
Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua Green4602149
Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua 12.00%52043.686
American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis Green46020.145
American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis 12.00%49037.169
Tanoak Notholithocarpus densiflorus Green58032.172
Tanoak Notholithocarpus densiflorus 12.00%58032.172
Black Tupelo Nyssa sylvatica Green4602148
Black Tupelo Nyssa sylvatica 12.00%50038.166
Water Tupelo Nyssa aquatica Green46023.250
Water Tupelo Nyssa aquatica 12.00%50040.866
Black Walnut Juglans nigra Green51029.666
Black Walnut Juglans nigra 12.00%55052.3101
Black Willow Salix nigra Green36014.133
Black Willow Salix nigra 12.00%39028.354
Yellow Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera Green40018.341
Yellow Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera 12.00%42038.270
Baldcypress Taxodium distichum Green42024.746
Baldcypress Taxodium distichum 12.00%46043.973
Atlantic White Cedar Chamaecyparis thyoides Green31016.532
Atlantic White Cedar Chamaecyparis thyoides 12.00%32032.447
Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana Green44024.648
Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana 12.00%47041.561
Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens Green35021.743
Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens 12.00%37035.955
Northern White Cedar Thuja occidentalis Green29013.729
Northern White Cedar Thuja occidentalis 12.00%31027.345
Port Orford Cedar Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Green39021.645
Port Orford Cedar Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 12.00%43043.188
Western Redcedar Thuja plicata Green31019.135.9
Western Redcedar Thuja plicata 12.00%32031.451.7
Yellow Cedar Cupressus nootkatensis Green4202144
Yellow Cedar Cupressus nootkatensis 12.00%44043.577
Coast Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii Green45026.153
Coast Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii 12.00%48049.985
Interior West Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga Menziesii Green46026.753
Interior West Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga Menziesii 12.00%50051.287
Interior North Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca Green45023.951
Interior North Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 12.00%48047.690
Interior South Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga lindleyana Green43021.447
Interior South Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga lindleyana 12.00%4604382
Balsam Fir Abies balsamea Green33018.138
Balsam Fir Abies balsamea 12.00%35036.463
California Red Fir Abies magnifica Green3601940
California Red Fir Abies magnifica 12.00%38037.672.4
Grand Fir Abies grandis Green35020.340
Grand Fir Abies grandis 12.00%37036.561.4
Noble Fir Abies procera Green37020.843
Noble Fir Abies procera 12.00%39042.174
Pacific Silver Fir Abies amabilis Green40021.644
Pacific Silver Fir Abies amabilis 12.00%43044.275
Subalpine Fir Abies lasiocarpa Green31015.934
Subalpine Fir Abies lasiocarpa 12.00%32033.559
White Fir Abies concolor Green3702041
White Fir Abies concolor 12.00%3904068
Eastern Hemlock Tsuga canadensis Green38021.244
Eastern Hemlock Tsuga canadensis 12.00%40037.361
Mountain Hemlock Tsuga mertensiana Green42019.943
Mountain Hemlock Tsuga mertensiana 12.00%45044.479
Western Hemlock Tsuga heterophylla Green42023.246
Western Hemlock Tsuga heterophylla 12.00%4504978
Western Larch Larix occidentalis Green48025.953
Western Larch Larix occidentalis 12.00%52052.590
Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus Green34016.834
Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus 12.00%35033.159
Jack Pine Pinus banksiana Green40020.341
Jack Pine Pinus banksiana 12.00%4303968
Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda Green47024.250
Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda 12.00%51049.288
Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta Green3801838
Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta 12.00%4103765
Longleaf Pine Pinus palustris Green54029.859
Longleaf Pine Pinus palustris 12.00%59058.4100
Pitch Pine Pinus rigida Green47020.347
Pitch Pine Pinus rigida 12.00%5204174
Pond Pine Pinus serotina Green51025.251
Pond Pine Pinus serotina 12.00%5605280
Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa Green38016.935
Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa 12.00%40036.765
Red Pine Pinus resinosa Green41018.840
Red Pine Pinus resinosa 12.00%46041.976
Sand Pine Pinus clausa Green46023.752
Sand Pine Pinus clausa 12.00%48047.780
Shortleaf Pine Pinus echinata Green47024.351
Shortleaf Pine Pinus echinata 12.00%51050.190
Slash Pine Pinus elliottii Green54026.360
Slash Pine Pinus elliottii 12.00%59056.1112
Spruce Pine Pinus glabra Green41019.641
Spruce Pine Pinus glabra 12.00%4403972
Sugar Pine Pinus lambertiana Green3401734
Sugar Pine Pinus lambertiana 12.00%36030.857
Virginia Pine Pinus virginiana Green45023.650
Virginia Pine Pinus virginiana 12.00%48046.390
Western White Pine Pinus monticola Green36016.832
Western White Pine Pinus monticola 12.00%38034.767
Redwood Old Growth Sequoia sempervirens Green3802952
Redwood Old Growth Sequoia sempervirens 12.00%40042.469
Redwood New Growth Sequoia sempervirens Green34021.441
Redwood New Growth Sequoia sempervirens 12.00%3503654
Black Spruce Picea mariana Green38019.642
Black Spruce Picea mariana 12.00%46041.174
Engelmann Spruce Picea engelmannii Green3301532
Engelmann Spruce Picea engelmannii 12.00%35030.964
Red Spruce Picea rubens Green37018.841
Red Spruce Picea rubens 12.00%40038.274
Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis Green33016.234
Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis 12.00%36035.765
White Spruce Picea glauca Green37017.739
White Spruce Picea glauca 12.00%40037.768
Tamarack Spruce Larix laricina Green4902450
Tamarack Spruce Larix laricina 12.00%53049.480

Bamboo properties: [29] [28]

Common nameScientific nameMoisture contentDensity (kg/m3)Compressive strength (megapascals)Flexural strength (megapascals)
Balku bans Bambusa balcooa green4573.7
Balku bans Bambusa balcooa air dry54.1581.1
Balku bans Bambusa balcooa 8.582069151
Indian thorny bamboo Bambusa bambos 9.571061143
Indian thorny bamboo Bambusa bambos 43.0537.15
Nodding Bamboo Bambusa nutans 88907552.9
Nodding Bamboo Bambusa nutans 874652.4
Nodding Bamboo Bambusa nutans 128567.5
Nodding Bamboo Bambusa nutans 88.344.788
Nodding Bamboo Bambusa nutans 1447.9216
Clumping Bamboo Bambusa pervariabilis 45.8
Clumping Bamboo Bambusa pervariabilis 57980
Clumping Bamboo Bambusa pervariabilis 203537
Burmese bamboo Bambusa polymorpha
Bambusa spinosa air dry5751.77
Indian timber bamboo Bambusa tulda 73.640.751.1
Indian timber bamboo Bambusa tulda 11.96866.7
Indian timber bamboo Bambusa tulda 8.691079194
dragon bamboo Dendrocalamus giganteus 874070193
Hamilton's bamboo Dendrocalamus hamiltonii 8.55907089
White bamboo Dendrocalamus membranaceus 10240.526.3
String Bamboo Gigantochloa apus 54.324.1102
String Bamboo Gigantochloa apus 15.137.9587.5
Java Black Bamboo Gigantochloa atroviolacea 5423.892.3
Java Black Bamboo Gigantochloa atroviolacea 1535.794.1
Giant Atter Gigantochloa atter 72.326.498
Giant Atter Gigantochloa atter 14.431.95122.7
Gigantochloa macrostachya 896071154
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 4253.5
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 63.6144.8
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 86.346
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 77.582
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 155687
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 63.3
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 28
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 56.2
American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo Guadua angustifolia 38
Berry Bamboo Melocanna baccifera 12.869.957.6
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 51
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 873063
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 6444
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 6140
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 971
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 974
Japanese timber bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides 1254
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 44.6
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 7567
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 1571
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 6108
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 0.2147
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 511751
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 304455
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 12.560360.3
Tortoise shell bamboo Phyllostachys edulis 10.353083
Early Bamboo Phyllostachys praecox 28.582779.3
Oliveri Thyrsostachys oliveri 5346.961.9
Oliveri Thyrsostachys oliveri 7.85890

Hard versus soft

It is common to classify wood as either softwood or hardwood. The wood from conifers (e.g. pine) is called softwood, and the wood from dicotyledons (usually broad-leaved trees, e.g. oak) is called hardwood. These names are a bit misleading, as hardwoods are not necessarily hard, and softwoods are not necessarily soft. The well-known balsa (a hardwood) is actually softer than any commercial softwood. Conversely, some softwoods (e.g. yew) are harder than many hardwoods.

There is a strong relationship between the properties of wood and the properties of the particular tree that yielded it, at least for certain species. For example, in loblolly pine, wind exposure and stem position greatly affect the hardness of wood, as well as compression wood content. [30] The density of wood varies with species. The density of a wood correlates with its strength (mechanical properties). For example, mahogany is a medium-dense hardwood that is excellent for fine furniture crafting, whereas balsa is light, making it useful for model building. One of the densest woods is black ironwood.


Chemical structure of lignin, which makes up about 25% of wood dry matter and is responsible for many of its properties. Lignin.png
Chemical structure of lignin, which makes up about 25% of wood dry matter and is responsible for many of its properties.

The chemical composition of wood varies from species to species, but is approximately 50% carbon, 42% oxygen, 6% hydrogen, 1% nitrogen, and 1% other elements (mainly calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, and manganese) by weight. [31] Wood also contains sulfur, chlorine, silicon, phosphorus, and other elements in small quantity.

Aside from water, wood has three main components. Cellulose, a crystalline polymer derived from glucose, constitutes about 41–43%. Next in abundance is hemicellulose, which is around 20% in deciduous trees but near 30% in conifers. It is mainly five-carbon sugars that are linked in an irregular manner, in contrast to the cellulose. Lignin is the third component at around 27% in coniferous wood vs. 23% in deciduous trees. Lignin confers the hydrophobic properties reflecting the fact that it is based on aromatic rings. These three components are interwoven, and direct covalent linkages exist between the lignin and the hemicellulose. A major focus of the paper industry is the separation of the lignin from the cellulose, from which paper is made.

In chemical terms, the difference between hardwood and softwood is reflected in the composition of the constituent lignin. Hardwood lignin is primarily derived from sinapyl alcohol and coniferyl alcohol. Softwood lignin is mainly derived from coniferyl alcohol. [32]


Aside from the structural polymers, i.e. cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin (lignocellulose), wood contains a large variety of non-structural constituents, composed of low molecular weight organic compounds, called extractives. These compounds are present in the extracellular space and can be extracted from the wood using different neutral solvents, such as acetone. [33] Analogous content is present in the so-called exudate produced by trees in response to mechanical damage or after being attacked by insects or fungi. [34] Unlike the structural constituents, the composition of extractives varies over wide ranges and depends on many factors. [35] The amount and composition of extractives differs between tree species, various parts of the same tree, and depends on genetic factors and growth conditions, such as climate and geography. [33] For example, slower growing trees and higher parts of trees have higher content of extractives. Generally, the softwood is richer in extractives than the hardwood. Their concentration increases from the cambium to the pith. Barks and branches also contain extractives. Although extractives represent a small fraction of the wood content, usually less than 10%, they are extraordinarily diverse and thus characterize the chemistry of the wood species. [36] Most extractives are secondary metabolites and some of them serve as precursors to other chemicals. Wood extractives display different activities, some of them are produced in response to wounds, and some of them participate in natural defense against insects and fungi. [37]

Forchem tall oil refinery in Rauma, Finland Forchem Rauma 2.jpg
Forchem tall oil refinery in Rauma, Finland

These compounds contribute to various physical and chemical properties of the wood, such as wood color, fragnance, durability, acoustic properties, hygroscopicity, adhesion, and drying. [36] Considering these impacts, wood extractives also affect the properties of pulp and paper, and importantly cause many problems in paper industry. Some extractives are surface-active substances and unavoidably affect the surface properties of paper, such as water adsorption, friction and strength. [33] Lipophilic extractives often give rise to sticky deposits during kraft pulping and may leave spots on paper. Extractives also account for paper smell, which is important when making food contact materials.

Most wood extractives are lipophilic and only a little part is water-soluble. [34] The lipophilic portion of extractives, which is collectively referred as wood resin, contains fats and fatty acids, sterols and steryl esters, terpenes, terpenoids, resin acids, and waxes. [38] The heating of resin, i.e. distillation, vaporizes the volatile terpenes and leaves the solid component – rosin. The concentrated liquid of volatile compounds extracted during steam distillation is called essential oil. Distillation of oleoresin obtained from many pines provides rosin and turpentine. [39]

Most extractives can be categorized into three groups: aliphatic compounds, terpenes and phenolic compounds. [33] The latter are more water-soluble and usually are absent in the resin.


Main global producers of roundwood by type. World Production Of Roundwood By Type, Main Producers (2021).svg
Main global producers of roundwood by type.
World production of roundwood by type World Production Of Roundwood By Type.svg
World production of roundwood by type


Global production of roundwood rose from 3.5 billion m³ in 2000 to 4 billion m³ in 2021. In 2021, wood fuel was the main product with a 49 percent share of the total (2 billion m³), followed by coniferous industrial roundwood with 30 percent (1.2 billion m³) and non-coniferous industrial roundwood with 21 percent (0.9 billion m³). Asia and the Americas are the two main producing regions, accounting for 29 and 28 percent of the total roundwood production, respectively; Africa and Europe have similar shares of 20–21 percent, while Oceania produces the remaining 2 percent. [43]


Wood has a long history of being used as fuel, [44] which continues to this day, mostly in rural areas of the world. Hardwood is preferred over softwood because it creates less smoke and burns longer. Adding a woodstove or fireplace to a home is often felt to add ambiance and warmth.


Pulpwood is wood that is raised specifically for use in making paper.


The Saitta House, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York built in 1899 is made of and decorated in wood. Saitta House Dyker Heights.JPG
The Saitta House, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York built in 1899 is made of and decorated in wood.
Map of importers and exporters of forest products including wood in 2021 Importers And Exporters Of Forest Products (2021).svg
Map of importers and exporters of forest products including wood in 2021

Wood has been an important construction material since humans began building shelters, houses and boats. Nearly all boats were made out of wood until the late 19th century, and wood remains in common use today in boat construction. Elm in particular was used for this purpose as it resisted decay as long as it was kept wet (it also served for water pipe before the advent of more modern plumbing).

Wood to be used for construction work is commonly known as lumber in North America. Elsewhere, lumber usually refers to felled trees, and the word for sawn planks ready for use is timber. [46] In Medieval Europe oak was the wood of choice for all wood construction, including beams, walls, doors, and floors. Today a wider variety of woods is used: solid wood doors are often made from poplar, small-knotted pine, and Douglas fir.

The churches of Kizhi, Russia are among a handful of World Heritage Sites built entirely of wood, without metal joints. See Kizhi Pogost for more details. Preobrazhenskaia tserkov' (dereviannaia) (1714 g.) 01.JPG
The churches of Kizhi, Russia are among a handful of World Heritage Sites built entirely of wood, without metal joints. See Kizhi Pogost for more details.

New domestic housing in many parts of the world today is commonly made from timber-framed construction. Engineered wood products are becoming a bigger part of the construction industry. They may be used in both residential and commercial buildings as structural and aesthetic materials.

In buildings made of other materials, wood will still be found as a supporting material, especially in roof construction, in interior doors and their frames, and as exterior cladding.

Wood is also commonly used as shuttering material to form the mold into which concrete is poured during reinforced concrete construction.


Wood can be cut into straight planks and made into a wood flooring. LightningVolt Wood Floor.jpg
Wood can be cut into straight planks and made into a wood flooring.

A solid wood floor is a floor laid with planks or battens created from a single piece of timber, usually a hardwood. Since wood is hydroscopic (it acquires and loses moisture from the ambient conditions around it) this potential instability effectively limits the length and width of the boards.

Solid hardwood flooring is usually cheaper than engineered timbers and damaged areas can be sanded down and refinished repeatedly, the number of times being limited only by the thickness of wood above the tongue.

Solid hardwood floors were originally used for structural purposes, being installed perpendicular to the wooden support beams of a building (the joists or bearers) and solid construction timber is still often used for sports floors as well as most traditional wood blocks, mosaics and parquetry.

Engineered products

Engineered wood products, glued building products "engineered" for application-specific performance requirements, are often used in construction and industrial applications. Glued engineered wood products are manufactured by bonding together wood strands, veneers, lumber or other forms of wood fiber with glue to form a larger, more efficient composite structural unit. [47]

These products include glued laminated timber (glulam), wood structural panels (including plywood, oriented strand board and composite panels), laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and other structural composite lumber (SCL) products, parallel strand lumber, and I-joists. [47] Approximately 100 million cubic meters of wood was consumed for this purpose in 1991. [4] The trends suggest that particle board and fiber board will overtake plywood.

Wood unsuitable for construction in its native form may be broken down mechanically (into fibers or chips) or chemically (into cellulose) and used as a raw material for other building materials, such as engineered wood, as well as chipboard, hardboard, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Such wood derivatives are widely used: wood fibers are an important component of most paper, and cellulose is used as a component of some synthetic materials. Wood derivatives can be used for kinds of flooring, for example laminate flooring.

Furniture and utensils

Wood has always been used extensively for furniture, such as chairs and beds. It is also used for tool handles and cutlery, such as chopsticks, toothpicks, and other utensils, like the wooden spoon and pencil.


Further developments include new lignin glue applications, recyclable food packaging, rubber tire replacement applications, anti-bacterial medical agents, and high strength fabrics or composites. [48] As scientists and engineers further learn and develop new techniques to extract various components from wood, or alternatively to modify wood, for example by adding components to wood, new more advanced products will appear on the marketplace. Moisture content electronic monitoring can also enhance next generation wood protection. [49]


Prayer Bead with the Adoration of the Magi and the Crucifixion, Gothic boxwood miniature Prayer Bead with the Adoration of the Magi and the Crucifixion MET DP371962.jpg
Prayer Bead with the Adoration of the Magi and the Crucifixion , Gothic boxwood miniature

Wood has long been used as an artistic medium. It has been used to make sculptures and carvings for millennia. Examples include the totem poles carved by North American indigenous people from conifer trunks, often Western Red Cedar ( Thuja plicata ).

Other uses of wood in the arts include:

Sports and recreational equipment

Many types of sports equipment are made of wood, or were constructed of wood in the past. For example, cricket bats are typically made of white willow. The baseball bats which are legal for use in Major League Baseball are frequently made of ash wood or hickory, and in recent years have been constructed from maple even though that wood is somewhat more fragile. National Basketball Association courts have been traditionally made out of parquetry.

Many other types of sports and recreation equipment, such as skis, ice hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and archery bows, were commonly made of wood in the past, but have since been replaced with more modern materials such as aluminium, titanium or composite materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber. One noteworthy example of this trend is the family of golf clubs commonly known as the woods , the heads of which were traditionally made of persimmon wood in the early days of the game of golf, but are now generally made of metal or (especially in the case of drivers) carbon-fiber composites.

Bacterial degradation

Little is known about the bacteria that degrade cellulose. Symbiotic bacteria in Xylophaga may play a role in the degradation of sunken wood. Alphaproteobacteria , Flavobacteria , Actinomycetota , Clostridia , and Bacteroidota have been detected in wood submerged for over a year. [50]

See also


Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA IGO 3.0( license statement/permission ). Text taken from World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2023 , FAO, FAO.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hemicellulose</span> Class of plant cell wall polysaccharides

A hemicellulose is one of a number of heteropolymers, such as arabinoxylans, present along with cellulose in almost all terrestrial plant cell walls. Cellulose is crystalline, strong, and resistant to hydrolysis. Hemicelluloses are branched, shorter in length than cellulose, and also show a propensity to crystallize. They can be hydrolyzed by dilute acid or base as well as a myriad of hemicellulase enzymes.

<i>Ochroma</i> Genus of trees

Ochroma pyramidale, commonly known as the balsa tree, is a large, fast-growing tree native to the Americas. It is the sole member of the genus Ochroma. The tree is famous for its wide usage in woodworking, due to its softness and its high strength compared to its low density. The name balsa is the Spanish word for "raft."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pulp (paper)</span> Fibrous material used notably in papermaking

Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemically or mechanically separating cellulose fibers from wood, fiber crops, waste paper, or rags. Mixed with water and other chemical or plant-based additives, pulp is the major raw material used in papermaking and the industrial production of other paper products.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Engineered wood</span> Range of derivative wood products engineered for uniform and predictable structural performance

Engineered wood, also called mass timber, composite wood, human-made wood, or manufactured board, includes a range of derivative wood products which are manufactured by binding or fixing the strands, particles, fibres, or veneers or boards of wood, together with adhesives, or other methods of fixation to form composite material. The panels vary in size but can range upwards of 64 by 8 feet and in the case of cross-laminated timber (CLT) can be of any thickness from a few inches to 16 inches (410 mm) or more. These products are engineered to precise design specifications, which are tested to meet national or international standards and provide uniformity and predictability in their structural performance. Engineered wood products are used in a variety of applications, from home construction to commercial buildings to industrial products. The products can be used for joists and beams that replace steel in many building projects. The term mass timber describes a group of building materials that can replace concrete assemblies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Medium-density fibreboard</span> Engineered wood product

Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibre, often in a defibrator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming it into panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally denser than plywood. It is made up of separated fibre but can be used as a building material similar in application to plywood. It is stronger and denser than particle board.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hardwood</span> Wood from dicot trees

Hardwood is wood from dicot trees. These are usually found in broad-leaved temperate and tropical forests. In temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen. Hardwood contrasts with softwood.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood preservation</span> Treatment or process aimed at extending the service life of wood structures

Wood easily degrades without sufficient preservation. Apart from structural wood preservation measures, there are a number of different chemical preservatives and processes that can extend the life of wood, timber, and their associated products, including engineered wood. These generally increase the durability and resistance from being destroyed by insects or fungi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pulpwood</span> Timber with the principal use of making wood pulp for paper production

Pulpwood is timber with the principal use of making wood pulp for paper production.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borregaard</span>

Borregaard is a Norwegian company, established in 1889 in the southeastern town of Sarpsborg in Østfold county. Its main products were traditionally pulp and paper. The company later started producing chemicals based on timber as a raw material. After a takeover in 1986, Borregaard was part of the chemical division of the Orkla Group until it was spun off and introduced to the Oslo Stock Exchange in October 2012. It had 1050 employees in 2016.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kraft paper</span> Paper or paperboard produced from chemical pulp produced in the kraft process

Kraft paper or kraft is paper or paperboard (cardboard) produced from chemical pulp produced in the kraft process.

Reaction wood in a woody plant is wood that forms in place of normal wood as a response to gravity, where the cambial cells are oriented other than vertically. It is typically found on branches and leaning stems. It is an example of mechanical acclimation in trees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood drying</span> Also known as seasoning, which is the reduction of the moisture content of wood prior to its use

Wood drying reduces the moisture content of wood before its use. When the drying is done in a kiln, the product is known as kiln-dried timber or lumber, whereas air drying is the more traditional method.

This glossary of woodworking lists a number of specialized terms and concepts used in woodworking, carpentry, and related disciplines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood-decay fungus</span> Any species of fungus that digests moist wood, causing it to rot

A wood-decay or xylophagous fungus is any species of fungus that digests moist wood, causing it to rot. Some species of wood-decay fungi attack dead wood, such as brown rot, and some, such as Armillaria, are parasitic and colonize living trees. Excessive moisture above the fibre saturation point in wood is required for fungal colonization and proliferation. In nature, this process causes the breakdown of complex molecules and leads to the return of nutrients to the soil. Wood-decay fungi consume wood in various ways; for example, some attack the carbohydrates in wood, and some others decay lignin. The rate of decay of wooden materials in various climates can be estimated by empirical models.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood anatomy</span> Discipline of the xylem anatomy

Wood anatomy is a scientific sub-area of wood science, which examines the variations in xylem anatomical characteristics across trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species to explore inquiries related to plant function, growth, and the environment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ramial chipped wood</span> Small branches of living trees with high nutritive value in building soil when used as mulch.

Ramial chipped wood (RCW), also called BRF, is a type of woodchips made solely from small to medium-sized branches. The adjective "ramial" refers to branches (rami). RCW is a forest product used in agriculture for mulching and soil enrichment. It may be laid on top of the soil, mixed into it, or composted first and then applied.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plant stem</span> Structural axis of a vascular plant

A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant, the other being the root. It supports leaves, flowers and fruits, transports water and dissolved substances between the roots and the shoots in the xylem and phloem, photosynthesis takes place here, stores nutrients, and produces new living tissue. The stem can also be called halm or haulm or culms.

The wood industry or timber industry is the industry concerned with forestry, logging, timber trade, and the production of primary forest products and wood products and secondary products like wood pulp for the pulp and paper industry. Some of the largest producers are also among the biggest owners of timberland. The wood industry has historically been and continues to be an important sector in many economies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transparent wood composite</span>

Transparent wood composites are novel wood materials which have up to 90% transparency. Some have better mechanical properties than wood itself. They were made for the first time in 1992. These materials are significantly more biodegradable than glass and plastics. Transparent wood is also shatterproof, making it suitable for applications like cell phone screens.

The conservation and restoration of waterlogged wood is the process undertaken by conservator-restorers of caring for and maintaining waterlogged wooden artefacts to preserve their form, and the information they contain. It covers the processes that can be taken by conservators, archaeologists, and other museum professionals to conserve waterlogged wood. This practice includes understanding the composition and agents of deterioration of waterlogged wood, as well as the preventive conservation and interventive conservation measures that can be taken.


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