This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
The wood of the gum tree has been used extensively for cabinet work, furniture, and interior finish. It is of fine texture and handsome appearance, heavy, fairly soft, yet strong. Its color is reddish brown. The wood warps and checks badly, is not durable when exposed, and is hard to work. It has a close grain, and some pieces are so regular that they have been stained to imitate black walnut and used as veneers for the manufacture of furniture and cabinet work. The species of gum tree, which yields timber of use in carpentry, is known as the sweet gum. It is of medium size, with a straight trunk. The trees do not form forests, though they are quite abundant east of the Mississippi River. The leaves have five lobes which are long and pointed, thus giving them a starlike appearance. The bark is very rough, and its resemblance in appearance to the skin of an alligator has caused the wood to be called "Alligator Wood" in some localities.