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 valuable tree of the S. Sea Islands is becoming scarce. It sometimes reaches 200 ft. high and 20 ft. diam. Its timber is very useful for ship-building and ornamental purposes, and is like the best Spanish mahogany.
Tanekaha or Celery-leaved Pine (Phyllocladus trichomanoides) is a slender, handsome tree, 60 ft. high, but rarely exceeding 3 ft. in diam., affording a pale, close-grained wood, excellent for planks and spars, and resisting decay in moist positions in a remarkable manner. It grows in the hilly districts of the North Island of New Zealand, and in Tasmania.
Tasmanian Myrtle (Fagus Cunninghamii) exists in great abundance throughout the western half of the island, growing in forests to a great size in humid situations. It reaches a height of 60-1S0 ft., a diam. of 2-9 ft., averaging about 3 1/2 ft., and has a sp. gr. of 0.795. Its price is about 16s. per 100 ft. super, in the log. It is found in considerable quantities in some of the mountainous parts in South Victoria. It is a reddish-coloured wood, and much employed by cabinet-makers for various articles of furniture. Occasionally planks of it are obtained of a beautiful grain and figure, and when polished its highly ornamental character is sure to attract attention. It is also used for the cogs of wheels by millwrights.
A lofty forest tree, 60-70 ft. high, with slender branches. The wood is light and soft, and is much used for making butter-kegs. Grows in the northern parts of the South Island, and also on the North Island of New Zealand, chiefly on low alluvial grounds; is commonly found forming large forests in river flats. The wood makes fairly durable flooring, but does not last out of doors.
Black birch of Auckland and Otago (from colour of bark). Red birch of Wellington and Nelson (from colour of timber). This is a noble tree, 60-90 ft. high, the trunk 5-8 ft. in diam. The timber is excessively tough and hard to cut. It is highly valued in Nelson and Wellington as being both strong and durable in all situations. It is found from Kaitaia in the North Island to Otago in the South Island of New Zealand, but often locally absent from extensive districts, and grows at all heights up to 3000 ft.
This tall, straight, rapidly-growing tree inhabits the dry elevated districts of the Malabar and Coromandel coasts of India, as well as Burma, Pegu, Java, and Ceylon. Its wood is light, easily worked, strong, and durable; it is the best for carpentry where strength and durability are required, and is considered foremost for ship-building. The Moulmein product is much superior to the Malabar, being lighter, more flexible, and freer from knots. The Vindhyan excels that of Pegu in strength, and in beauty for cabinet-making. The Johore is the heaviest and strongest, and is well suited for sleepers, beams, and piles. It is unrivalled for resisting worms and ants. Its weight is 45-62 lb. a cub. ft.; cohesive force, 13,000-15,000 lb.; strength, 109; stiffness, 126; toughness, 94. It contains a resinous aromatic substance, which has a preservative effect on iron. It is subject to heartshake, and is often damaged. The resinous secretion tends to collect and harden in the shakes, and will then destroy the edge of any tool. When the resinous matter is extracted during life by girdling the tree, the timber is much impaired in elasticity and durability. Teak is sorted in the markets according to size, not quality.
The logs are 23-40 ft. long, and their width on the larger sides varies according to the class, as follows : - Class A, 15 in. and upwards; B, 12 and under 15 in.; C, under 12 in.; D, damaged logs.