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.
This wood, owing to the fineness of its grain, its cohesiveness, its durability, and its equable cut, is perhaps the best for all delicate work, such as vegetation, flowers, etc. It takes a beautiful black by staining. Much pear is sold as ebony. Pear-tree is a pleasant wood for working, and a good piece resembles lime in its pliability. It is extensively used in France for the purposes for which we employ lime.
Sandal-wood, from the texture, beautiful colour (a rich yellow brown), and the delicious scent, is especially suited to small carvings. The superabundance of oil, which emits so delightful a fragrance, causes it also to take a beautiful polish merely by rubbing it slightly with the hand. The best sandal-wood is brought from India and Ceylon. It also, like ebony, is difficult to procure in sound pieces. It is sold, as are the most valuable woods, by weight, the price varying from 6d. to 1s. per lb., according to the size and soundness of the logs. Small pieces are cheaper than large ones in proportion, unless they are prepared and squared to any even size, and then they are far more expensive, as in the course of preparation 2 or 3 logs may perhaps be cut up and spoiled before one can be found without flaw, and of course this waste is taken into account and charged for by the wood merchant.
Sycamore, holly, and chestnut are amongst the lightest of our woods. The first is greatly, and, in fact, principally used for bread-plates, potato-bowls, and other articles, when a light tint is a consideration.