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 magnificent tree is found chiefly in Pegu and the Straits, reaching 250 ft. high. Its wood is hard and close-grained, excellent for all house-building purposes, but not durable in wet. Its weight is 45 lb. a cub. ft.; breaking-weight, 750 lb. Another species (D. turbinates), found in Assam, Burma, and the Andamans, is similar, and much used by the natives in house-building.
This gigantic conifer is a native of New Zealand, growing 80-140 ft. high, with a straight clean stem 4-8 ft. diam. The wood is close, even, fine-grained, and free from knots. It is chiefly used and well adapted for masts and spars; also for joinery, as it stands and glues well, and shrinks less than pine or fir. But it buckles and expands very much when cut into narrow strips for inside mouldings. Its weight is 35-40 lb. a cub. ft.; cohesive force, 9600-10,960 lb. a sq. in. The timber is in high repute for deck and other planking of ships. It possesses great durability, logs which had been buried for many years being found in sound condition, and used as railway sleepers. In the Thames goldfield it supplies the mine props, struts, and cap pieces. It is the chief timber exported from New Zealand. Some of the largest and soundest sticks have richly mottled shading, which appears to be an abnormal growth, due to the bark being entangled in the ligneous portion, causing shaded parts, broad and narrow, according as the timber is cut relative to their planes; such examples form a valuable furniture wood.
A large forest tree, 40-50 ft. high. Wood tough, but splits freely, and is considered durable as piles under sea-water. Grows in the North Island of New Zealand.
A small and ornamental tree, 10-30 ft. high; trunk sometimes 3 ft. in diameter. It appears to furnish a durable timber. House blocks of this, which have been in use in Dunedin for more than 20 years, are still sound and good. Grows throughout New Zealand.
A small or middling-sized tree. Wood red; valuable for fencing, being highly durable; it is also adapted for cabinet-work. It is used for piles in bridges, wharves, etc. Abundant throughout New Zealand.
This tree ranges from Newfoundland to Virginia, reaching 80-100 ft. high, and 2-3 ft. diam. The wood is said to nearly equal that of the European species.
This tree grows chiefly on the south side of Jamaica, and affords one of the hardest and heaviest woods, extremely useful for the sheaves and blocks of pulleys, for which purpose it should be cut with a band of sap-wood all round, to prevent splitting. Its weight is 73 lb. a cub. ft.; crushing-weight, 9900 lb. The approximate London market value is 4-10Z. a ton. Lignum-vitas grows on several of the Bahama islands, and is generally exported to Europe and America. The principal use made of it in the Bahamas is for hinges and fastenings for houses situated by the sea shore or in the vicinity of salt ponds on the islands, where, from the quick corrosion of iron hinges, etc, metal is seldom used.