This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The spruce fir of Oxfordshire is used for scaffold-poles, common carpentry, etc.; the maple of the same county is valuable for ornamental work when knotted, it makes the best charcoal and turns well. The Wandsworth sycamore is used in dry carpentry, turns well and takes a fine polish. The Wandsworth horse-chestnut-is used for inlaying toys, turnery, and dry carpentry. The Oxfordshire alder for common turnery work, etc, and lasts long under water or buried in the ground. The Killarney arbatus is hard, close-grained, and occasionally used by turners; the Killarney barberry is chiefly used for dyeing. The common birch of Epping is inferior in quality, but much used in the North of England for herring barrels. The Epping hornbeam is very tough, makes excellent cogs for wheels, and is much valued for fuel. Cornwall chestnut is valuable in ship-building, and is much in repute for posts and rails, hop-poles, etc. Cedar of Lebanon makes good furniture, and is sometimes employed for ornamental joinery work. The common cherry is excellent for common furniture, and much in repute; it works easily, and takes a fine polish. The young wood of the common nut is used for fishing rods, walking sticks, etc.
The Epping white thorn is hard, firm, and susceptible of a fine polish; that of Mortlake is fine-grained and fragrant, and very durable. Oxfordshire common laburnum is hard and durable, and much used by turners and joiners. Lancewood is hard and fine-grained, and makes excellent skewers. Oxfordshire common beech is much used for common furniture, for handles of tools, wooden vessels, etc, and when kept dry is durable. Oxfordshire common ash is very tough and elastic. It is much used by the coachmaker and wheelwright, and for the making of oars. Holly is the best whitewood for Tunbridge ware, turns well, and takes a very fine polish. The common walnut of Sussex is used for ornamental furniture, is much in repute for gun-stocks, and works easily. Oxfordshire larch is excellent for bouse carpentry and ship-building; it is durable, strong, and tough. Mortlake common mulberry is sometimes worked up into furniture, and is useful to turners, but is of little durability. Silver fir is used for house carpentry, masts of small vessels, etc. Oxfordshire pine makes good rafters and girders, and supplies wood for house carpentry. The Wandsworth plane is an inferior wood, but is much used in the Levant for furniture.
The damson of that part is hard and fine-grained, but not very durable, and is suitable for turning. The laurel is hard and compact, taking a good polish. The Yorkshire mountain ash is fine-grained, hard, and takes a good polish, and is of great value for turnery, and for musical instruments. Yorkshire crab is hard, close-grained, and strong. Epping service-tree, hard, fine-grained, and compact, and much in repute by millwrights for cogs, friction rollers, etc. Wandsworth evergreen oak is very shaky when aged, is strong and durable, and makes an excellent charcoal. Sussex oak is much esteemed for ship-building, and is the strongest and most durable of British woods. Welsh oak is a good wood for ship-building, but is said to be inferior to the common oak. Epping common acacia is much used for treenails in ship-building, and in the United States is much in repute for posts and rails. Surrey white willow is good for toys, and used by the millwright; it is tough, elastic, and durable. Oxfordshire palm willow is tough and elastic, is much used for bandies to tools, and makes good hurdles. Oxfordshire crack willow is light, pliant, and tough, and is said to be very durable.
The yew is used for making bows, chairs, handles, etc.; the wood is exceedingly durable, very tough, elastic, and fine-grained. Wandsworth common lime is used for cutting blocks, carving, sounding boards, and toys. English elm is used in ship-building, for under-water planking, and a variety of other purposes, being very durable when kept wet, or buried in the earth; and Oxfordshire wych elm is considered better than common elm, and is used in carpentry, ship-building, etc. Specimens of the above were shown at the Great Exhibition of 1SG2. Of course, the list is far from being exhausted, still sufficient has been said to give an idea of the various uses to which our home-grown wood can be put.