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 small tree (45 to 50 ft. high and 8 to 18 in. in diameter) inhabits dry rocky hillsides in Canada, the United States, and W. Indies, 'and flourishes in Britain. The wood is much used in America for wardrobes, drawers, boxes, and furniture, being avoided by all insects on account of its strong odour and flavour. It is light, brittle, and nearly uniform in texture. It is very extensively employed for covering graphite pencils, being imported in logs 6-10 in. sq. It weighs 40 1/2 lb. a cub. ft. The heartwood is reddish-brown, the sapwood is white, straight-grained, and porous. It possesses about 3/4 the strength of red pine, is easily worked, shrinks little, and is very durable when well ventilated. A resinous exudation makes freshly-cut timber hard to work.
This tree is a native chiefly of Honduras, Jamaica, and Cuba, having a stem 70 to 80 ft. high and 3 to 5 ft. diam., and exported in logs up to 3-4 ft. sq. Its wood is soft, porous, and brittle, and used chiefly for cigar-boxes and the inside of furniture. It makes durable planks and shingles. Its weight is 36 lb. a cub. ft.; crushing-weight, 6600 lb.; breaking-weight, 400 lb. The approximate London market values are 4-5 1/4d. a ft. for Cuba cedar, and 4-6 14d. for Honduras, etc.
Cherry [Australian] (Exocarpus cupressiformis) is a soft, fine-grained timber, and forms the best Australian wood for carving. It reaches a height of 20-30 ft., and a diameter of 9-15 in.; its sp. gr. is about 0.785. It is used for tool-handles, spokes, gun-stocks, etc.
This, the sweet or Spanish chestnut, is said to be a native of Greece and W. Asia, but grows wild also in Italy, France, Spain, N. Africa, and N. America. It lives to 1000 years, but reaches its prime at about 50, when the stem may be 40-60 ft. long and 3-6 ft. diam. The wood is hard and compact: when young, it is tough and flexible, and as durable as oak; when old, it is brittle and shaky. It does not shrink or swell so much as other woods, and is easier to work than oak; but soon rots when built into walls. It is valued for hop-poles, palings, gate-posts, stakes, and similar purposes. Its weight is 43-54 lb. a cub. ft.; cohesive force, 8100 lb.; strength, 68; stiffness, 54; toughness, 85. The wood much resembles oak in appearance, but can be distinguished by having no distinct large medullary rays. The annual rings are very distinct; the wood has a dark-brown colour; the timber is slow of growth, and there is no sapwood.
This tree is abundant in Persia and the Levant, and cultivated in all countries bordering the Mediterranean, thriving best in warm sandy or gravelly soil, and reaching 70-90 ft. high. Its wood is said to be the most durable of all. For furniture, it is stronger than mahogany, and equally repulsive to insects. In Malta and Candia, it is much used for building. It weighs about 40-41 lb. a cub. ft.