There are two types of wood in use hard wood & soft wood.
Hard wood: It is strong and is used for Hardwood, being harder and heavier, tends to be sturdier and longer-lasting. Additionally, hardwoods are more resistant to decay than softwoods.
The biggest drawback for quality hardwood is its high cost. They include teak, mahogany, oak walnut and beech.
Soft wood: Softwood is also generally more pliable, making it an easier material to work with and hence cheaper to manufacture. However, due to its lack of density, it can scratch and damage more easily.
Consequently, softwood furniture needs more care than hardwood. Such as pine, dell and fir are used for construction of furniture, subfloor, joints, ceilings, broom handles, etc., where the wood is either covered up or out of public view.
Wood products These are less expensive as compared to solid wood items. The most commonly used ones include: –
Plywood – It is made by bonding together a number of thin sheets (piles) of wood (usually hardwood) in such a way that the grain of one sheet lies at right angles to those on either side of it. It can be bent to any shape during manufacture and may have as many as nine piles. It‘s very strong and maybe covered with plastic laminate or a hardwood veneer.
Chipboard – It is used extensively for worktops, wardrobes, chests of drawers, etc. and nearly always has a wood veneer or plastic laminate. It is heavy and strong but flexible. It is made by mixing wood chips with a synthetic resin adhesive.
Hardboard – It is more flexible than chipboard and much thinner. Made from compressed brown fireboard, it is smooth on one side with a mesh texture on other. Hardboard is used as a backing for wardrobes, base of drawers, door panels, backing for pictures, base for floor tiles, etc.
Block boards – This consists of strips of wood between veneers. The inner strips of wood are fairly thick (up to 30 mm) making it a strong material usually used for making shelves and table tops.
Wood products are nearly always faced with a plastic laminate, sun mica, Formica or wood veneer. Hence they should be cleaned according to their outer surface. However all of them will deteriorate if excessive amount of water is allowed to penetrate.
Protecting Wood Surfaces
Unprotected wood surfaces will absorb moisture, which causes the grains to swell and so creates gap into which dirt and germs can fall and become trapped when it dries.
Liquids such as coffee and wine leave a stain on the surface, which is difficult to remove, and scratching is difficult to avoid, particularly on floors. The following are the most commonly found methods of protection and maybe referred to as wood finishes.
Cellulose lacquer – This is fairly durable matt applied to solid timber furniture during manufacture. It should be dusted and wiped with a damp cloth and then dried with a soft one. Cream or spray polish may be applied to give a gloss finish. Heat, water and solvents will cause damage.
French polish – This is also easily damaged by heat, water and solvents. Deterioration is caused by light and atmosphere in general. French polishing is produced by rubbing the solid wooden surface with a solution of Shellac (a dark red resin) and methylated spirits.
It should be dusted daily and polished in the way of the grain. Occasionally cream, liquid or paste polish maybe applied to remove light soiling and improve the gloss.
Oil – Solid wooden furniture can be given a matt protective finish by rubbing the surface with a mixture of oil (usually linseed oil) and resin. This process gives very little protection although it will help to reduce the absorption of water. Daily dusting is essential.
Marks can be removed by lightly rubbing with very fine steel wool. About twice a year the surface should be rubbed with a mixture of equal quantities of turpentine and raw linseed oil. Proprietary polishes should be avoided.
Paint – This is very widely used on furniture, window frames, doorframes, skirting, staircase railings, etc. Gloss paint is tougher than matt or silk and will withstand more frequent washings.
All painted wood surfaces should be dusted daily and wiped with a synthetic detergent solution or solvent weekly. Spray or cream polishes can be used to retain the shine or gloss on surfaces. Heat, alkalis and abrasives easily damage paint.
Resin (varnish) – Natural and synthetic resins such as polyesters, melamine and polyurethane are used extensively on wooden furniture, window frames, skirting, floors and staircases. The finish maybe glossy or matt and is frequently applied to furniture made from chipboard.
Resin is extremely tough and will resist heat, water, solvents and abrasives; but once damaged by scratching or chipping, it is very difficult to repair. Dusting should be done regularly.
Cream or spray polish should be applied on glossy surface after damp wiping. Matt surface should be rubbed up occasionally using a mixture of 500ml turpentine, 100ml boiled linseed oil and 500ml vinegar.
Wax (bees wax) – This is applied on solid wood surfaces. It provides an attractive finish, exposing the pattern of the wood, but is easily damaged by heat, water and solvents. Waxed surfaces should be dusted daily and cleaned weekly with cream and liquid polish.
Removing Stain from Wooden Surfaces
Alcohol stain – Polish well. If the stain persists rub along the grain with a metal polish or a mixture of linseed oil and cigarette ash.
Burns (black marks) – Rub with metal polish. For wax or oil finishes, rub the mark hard with turpentine.
Heat marks (white rings) – Rub with turpentine in the direction of the grain.
Ink – Dab with vinegar, leave for 2-3 hrs, then wipe. If unsuccessful, use a matchstick or cotton wool and carefully dab with hypochlorite bleach, immediately wiping with a clean cloth or absorbent paper.
Scratches – Mask with similar coloured wax crayon, shoe polish or liquid polish dye.
Watermarks – Rub with turpentine in the direction of the grain. If the stain persists, rub with metal polish, followed with suitable furniture polish.