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.
Two species of Fagus are common in N. America, - the white (F.sylvedris), and the red (F. ferruginea). The perfect wood of the former is frequently only 3 in. in a trunk 18 in. diam., and it is of little use except for fuel. The wood of the latter, which is almost exclusively confined to the N.-E. States, Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, is stronger, tougher, and more compact, but so liable to insect attacks as to be little used in furniture; yet it is very durable when constantly immersed in water.
Beech [Australian] (Gmelina Leichhardtii) attains a height of 80 to 120 ft. and yields planks 21 to 42 in. wide; its wood is valuable for decks of vessels, etc, as it is said neither to expand nor contract, and is exceedingly durable. It is worth 100s. to 120s. per 1000 ft. super.
The common birch (B. alba) is less important as a source of wood than as affording an empyreumatic oil. Its wood is neither strong nor durable, but is easily worked, moderately hard, and of straight and. even grain, rendering it useful for chair-making, cabinet-making, and light turnery. The American red birch (B. rubra) has similar uses. The black or cherry birch (B. lenta [nigra]) of N. America is superior to all others, and imported in logs G-20 ft. long and 12-30 in. diam. for furniture and turnery. Quebec birch is worth 31. 5s.-il. 15s. a load. There is a so-called "yellow birch" in Newfoundland, known also as " witch-hazel."
A lofty, beautiful evergreen tree 100 ft. high, trunk 4-5 ft. diameter. The heart timber is darker than that of Fagus fusca and is very durable. This wood is well adapted for fencing and bridge piles. The tree occurs only in the southern part of the North Island of New Zealand, but is abundant in the South Island up to 5000 ft.
Box [Australian] (Tristania conferta) grows in Queensland to 10 ft. in height, and 35-50 in. in diameter; the wood is invaluable for ship-building, ribs of vessels made from it having been known to last unimpaired upwards of 30 years.
Box [Spurious] (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) is a valuable Victorian timber, of a light-grey colour and greasy nature, remarkable for the hardness and closeness of its grain, great strength, tenacity, and durability both in the water and when placed on the ground. It is largely used by coachmakers and wheelwrights for the naves of wheels and for heavy framing, and by millwrights for the cogs of their wheels. In ship-building it has numerous and important applications, and forms one of the best materials for treenails, and for working into large screws in this and other mechanical arts.
The Grey Box [E. dealbata] is another species, used for similar purposes to the preceding.