Here follows an enumeration of the different kinds of wood which are available for slojd work, together with a condensed statement of their properties, in order that, as far as is possible in a brief description, the reader may be made acquainted with each kind of timber.
[The following kinds of wood can be easily obtained in
England, and are therefore specially recommended : - Scotch fir, spruce fir, alder, birch, beech, oak, chestnut, lime, and poplar. See also p. 204. - Trs.]
1. Needle-leaved Trees.
The Scotch fir (Pinus sylvestris). - The ripe timber is yellowish white or reddish white. The boundaries of the annual concentric layers are light brown in the heart-wood; white in the sap-wood. It is the heaviest, hardest, and most resinous of all the needle-leaved trees, and has a tolerably strong smell of turpentine. Its resinous, fine-grained heart-wood is very durable.
The spruce fir (Pinus abies). - The wood is yellowish white. In a longitudinal section it shows dark reddish streaks. It is very elastic, and is easily split with the axe. As it contains a good deal of resin, it resists damp; though, being less resinous than the pine, it is more easily glued. Like the pine, it makes excellent timber. Very hard knots, which loosen and fall out when the wood is seasoned, are, however, of frequent occurrence in this wood.
The common larch (Pinus larix). - The wood of this tree is reddish, with dark annual layers and white sap-wood. It warps but little, and does not readily become worm-eaten. It is more durable than the Scotch fir and the spruce fir.
The common juniper (Juniperus communis). - The wood of the young bushes is white, and it deepens from yellow to brown as it increases in age. It is hard, tough, close, strong, and durable, and whenever it can be obtained large enough it is much in request for slojd articles. The juniper has a peculiar and agreeable smell.
2. Broad-Leaved Trees.
The hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). - The wood of this tree is white, very hard, heavy, close and very tough. The medullary rays are very little darker than the wood, and are not easily distinguished. They are curved, appearing in a longitudinal section like narrow inconspicuous flecks. The wood is very difficult to split. It dries slowly and warps easily. It is very durable if kept dry, and is a favourite timber for slojd work.
The common alder (Alnus glutinosa). - The wood is whitish or brownish-yellow, often deepening to brown, and in the newly-felled tree light red. The annual layers are difficult to recognise; the medullary rays are rather broad, and brown in colour. The timber is only of medium hardness, and is neither very tough nor very elastic; it splits readily, and does not crack or warp easily. It is very durable if constantly kept wet, but it is of low durability if exposed to alternations in the degree of moisture. If felled at the wrong time it is speedily attacked by worms. Its close and even texture make it good timber for slojd work.
The hoary-leaved alder (Alnus incana) furnishes timber which is whiter, finer, and closer than the preceding.
The elm (Ulmus montana, U. campestris). - The colour of the young wood in general, and of the sap-wood in older trees, is whitish-yellow. The old heart-wood is reddish-brown, streaked and veined. The inner boundary of the annual layers is somewhat lighter in colour and looser in texture than the rest, and has visible pores. The medullary rays are very narrow and numerous, giving to this timber in longitudinal section a dotted and streaked appearance. This timber is moderately fine in fibre, tough, hard, given to warp, difficult to split, and not liable to the attacks of worms. Its durability under all circumstances is very great. It is often beautifully marked.
The common ash (Fraxinus excelsior).- The colour of the young wood is white; of the older, yellowish brown, deepening almost to brown in the heart-wood. The medullary rays are not easily distinguished. The annual layers are generally broad, and, as in the case of the oak, the large pores on their inner edge render them very conspicuous. This timber is tough, elastic, very hard, easily split, not liable to crack, and, if kept in a dry atmosphere, extremely durable. If exposed to the open air it is of low durability. It is much esteemed for its strength and toughness, and is used with advantage for springs of all kinds, tool handles, etc., etc. The young wood is used for barrel-hoops, etc.
The aspen (Populus tremula). - The wood is white, with coarse annual rings. It is fine in texture; tough, easily split, and warps but little. It is very durable if kept under cover or in the ground. It is not of much use in slojd work, and in Sweden it is used chiefly in the manufacture of matches.
[The poplar (Populus). - The colour of the wood is a yellow or brownish white. The annual rings are a little darker on one side than on the other, and are therefore distinct. The texture is uniform, and there are no large medullary rays. The wood is light, soft, easily worked, and does not splinter. When kept dry it is tolerably durable, and it is not liable to shrink. - Trs.]
The common birch (Betula alba). - The wood of the young tree is white. Older wood is reddish white in colour. The medullary rays are very narrow and scarcely distinguishable. The timber is tolerably hard, and very tough; it dries very slowly, and swells easily. It is very durable if kept dry, but is of low durability if exposed to the open air, and is very apt to become worm-eaten.
The quality of birch varies very much, and depends greatly on climate and soil. Birch grown in favourable soil is straight in fibre, easily split and easily worked: - Birch grown in dry and stony ground or in marshy places is crooked in fibre and more or less knotty, gnarled and cross-grained, and difficult to split. Timber of this kind is beautifully marked. In most parts of Sweden birch furnishes the greater proportion of the wood used in slojd, and takes the place of the beech and the hornbeam of southern Sweden and southern countries.