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 celebrated ship-building wood is a native of British Guiana, and has been largely exported from Demerara to English dockyards. It gives balks 50-60 ft. long without a knot, and 1S-24 in. sq., of hard, fine-grained, strong, and durable wood. It is reputed proof against sea-worms, and placed in the first class at Lloyd's; it is very difficult to work, on account of its splitting with great force. Its weight is 58-65 lb. a cub. ft.; crushing-weight, 12,000 lb.; breaking-weight, 1424 lb. The section is of fine grain, and very full of fine pores. The annual rings are rarely distinct. The heartwood is dark-green or chestnut-coloured, the centre portion being deep brownish-purple or almost black; the sapwood is green, and often not recognizable from the heart. An essential oil causes it to burn freely. It comes into the market roughly hewn, much bark being left on the angles, and the ends of the butts are not cut off square.
This Australian and Tasmanian tree is of rapid growth, and often reaches 150-300 ft. high and 10-20 ft. diam. Its wood is hard, compact, difficult to work, and liable to split, warp, and shrink in seasoning. It is used for general carpentry and wheel-spokes. Its weight is GO lb. a cub. ft.; crushing-force, G700 lb.; breaking-weight, 550-000 lb. It is employed in the erection of buildings, for beams, joists, etc, and for railway sleepers, piers, and bridges. It is also well adapted for ship-building purposes; from the great length in which it can always be procured, it is especially suitable for outside planking, and has been used for masts of vessels, but, owing to its great weight, for the latter purpose has given place to Kaurie; it is also bent and used for street cab shafts, etc.
Gum [Red] (Eucalyptus rostrata), of Australia, is a very hard compact wood, possessing a very handsome curly figure; it is of light-red colour, and suitable for veneering purposes for furniture; it is largely used for posts, resembling jarrah in durability. Properly selected and seasoned, it is well adapted for ship-building, culverts, bridges, wharves, railway sleepers, engine buffers, etc.
This tree is found chiefly in Tasmania, and a variety called the Tuvart occurs in W. Australia. The wood is valued for its great strength, and is sometimes used in ship-building, but more in house-building, and for purposes where weight is not an objection. It is sound and durable, shrinks little, but has a twisted grain, which makes it difficult to work. Its weight is about 70 lb. a cub. ft.; crushing-force, 10,000 lb.; breaking-weight, 730 lb.
There are about a dozen species of hickory, natives of N. America, forming large forest trees. Their timber is coarsegrained, and very strong, tough, and heavy; but is unsuited for building, as it does not bear exposure to the weather, and is much attacked by insects. It is extensively used where toughness and elasticity are required, such as for barrel-hoops, presses, handles, shafts and poles of wheel carriages, fishing-rods, and even light furniture. The most important is the shell-bark, scaly-bark, or shag-bark (C. alba), common throughout the Alleghanies from Carolina to New Hampshire, growing 80-90 ft. high and 2-3 ft. diam. Hickory [Australian] (Acacia supporosa) is a valuable wood for many purposes. It is exceedingly tough and elastic, and would make good gig shafts, handles for tools, gun-stocks, etc. Tall straight spars, fit for masts, can be obtained 50 to 100 ft. long and 18 in. in diam.