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Wood and Wood Products

Firewood and Energy

Wood is being used to an increasing extent as a renewable fuel resource . It is a very efficient energy producer in that 90% of its energy comes directly from the wood compared with other biofuels, which may end up using more energy than they produce.

There are four kinds of fuel wood.
- Cut timber: These are logs cut for fuel wood consumption, usually in urban areas. Species in demand are, ash, sycamore, and oak and conifer thinnings.
- Chipwood: This comes from residues from, sawmills or fibre factories. Chipwood can also be produced from conifer thinnings; suitable for industrial heating. Specially designed boiler and gasifiers are being designed for more efficiency and to extend usage. Specifications for storage and most efficient moisture content have been developed.
- Sawdust: Again this comes from Sawmill and pulp mill residues and is recycled to heat these plants.
- Wood Pellets and Briquettes: This is derived from sawdust and chippings. The pellet technology is to create s a smooth behaving material which transposes into heating systems like a liquid fuel.

Paper, Particle board and Plywood
Conifers, spruces, pines with some hardwoods e.g. poplar make up paper and panels while hardwoods go into plywood.

Paper: While Ireland has no paper industry, and despite the growth of e correspondence the use of paper still dominates our lives. Two types of papers predominate: Glossy high quality which is made from pulp with a high chemical content and tissues and newsprint made from mechanical pulp where the wood is ground into fibre. Recycled papers of both kinds is now becoming much more common.

Particle Boards: These are also made from ground down wood, the type of board depending on the extent to which the wood is broken into fibre. Boards are bonded by glues, which are usually kept a trade secret. The most usual board types are: Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF) comprising very fine fibres and used for furniture and interior finish; Orientated Span Board (OSB) Made from flaked fibre aligned in the same direction and used as a substitute for plywood in hoardings; Chipboard made from largish chips used for low er quality kitchen furniture and rough flooring.

Plywood: This comprises thin layers of hardwood wood 3 to 5 in depth, usually fixed with grain at right angles. Used for hoardings aid rough interior work. Being replaced by OSB, which is cheaper.

Structural Timber for Buildings
This is the most common timber we see in house building. Species comprise spruce, pine and Douglas fir, which have been strength and stress, graded.

The common pieces are beams , rafters and roof trusses. Some buildings are completely manufactured from wood. Examples are the Coillte National and Area headquarters in Cos Wicklow and Galway. Timber frame buildings now comprise (40%?) of houses being built. These comprise timber frames around which standard materials such as brick or concrete are used. Timber framed buildings are environmentally and energy efficient. Most standard houses have a timber element in roofs and floors.

Some times you will see exceptional structures in major buildings such as massive glue laminated beams. These have an advantage of providing a strong wide span. An example is in the shopping center in Rathmines, Dublin - but the beams have been painted so the wood character is not so visible..

There are many wooden structures such as pavilions and bridges to be seen in our public parks. These may be made of oak, as are the reconstructed roofs of our historic buildings such as medieval abbeys and castles and city buildings such as the Rothe House in Kilkenny.

Other Structures
Wood is frequently used for fencing, both around farms and on motorways. Larch, some pines, Douglas fir oak and preservative treated spruce are most common. Wood is used for transmission poles (larch , Douglas fir and pine and rustic poles, barriers and gates associated with farming and the equestrian industry.

The use of pallets for containers and transporting industrial goods has increased enormously. Here the strength of individual planks is less important as standards refer to the whole unit so lower grade commercial timber can be used. There has been much harmonization in the quality of pallets to the extent that there is now a Eoropallet. Spruce is usually used in Ireland.

Joinery, Furniture and indoor Finishing
These products are most familiar in the home and in everyday use and as DIY products. Better grade conifers such as pines and Douglas fir, and hardwood species, oak, maple, cherry and beech provide a range of items from chairs, tables, kitchen units, doors, windows skirting boards, architraves, wall paneling and flooring. Much of these involve the junction of two pieces by gluing or dowels, less frequently nails hence the name joinery. Solid timber can be combined with panels and board such as MDF and Chipboard.

Tools and Sports Goods
You will see wood used for brush, and garden tool handles as well as for hurley, hockey sticks and tennis rackets. Beech and ash are used as well as laminates. Cricket bats are made from Willow.

Musical Instruments
Perhaps the most sophisticated use of wood throughout the ages has been the pleasure that great instruments played by great musicians have given

The sound of wood hitting wood was one of the first musical sounds. Wooden drums are still used for ceremonial occasions in Africa and Asia. Here the Bodhran has made a comeback in recent times and is part of the instrumentation for many traditional music groups. It comprises a skin drawn over a wooden frame played with two-ended drumstick.

These include cellos, basses and violas which use Swiss pine (actually close grown spruce ) for the table and belly, specially grown sycamore for head neck and ribs and rosewood or ebony for thre chinrest.

The Harp
These have been known for thousands of years and may have originated in the hunting bow. The sound box is made from willow.

The Guitar Family
These instruments, lutes, basoukis, mandolins and guitars have been around for centuries. The soundboard is made from two layers of pine, spruce, cedar or redwood ,glued , cut and shaped with struts glued on the inside for tone.. The neck can be made from mahogany, fingerboard and bridge from ebony, and sides from rosewood, walnut, maple, or sycamore or mahogany.

These were the earliest instruments as tubes, fashioned from bone, then, probably of bamboo, which later incorporated reeds. Visual records go back to Greek and Roman times. The family of woodwinds of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons and French horns is a familiar component of the orchestra. Many of these instruments are made from boxwood. New instruments, made from other materials have evolved to produce contemporary sound. Bagpipes are common in Celtic countries and are considered the apex of traditional playing skill here.

A piano is made up from many different kinds of wood. The main frame is usually made from maple with casework of walnut or mahogany veneer. The jack and levers are made from hornbeam as is the hammerhead, or from other hard timbers. The bridge and rest plank, which take the greatest strain, are beech: And the sounding board was traditionally Romanian pine.

Turnery, Sculpture and Other Art Work
Turnery; bowls, pots, candlesticks, plates and dishes come from a variety of hardwoods, oak, beech maple cherry and yew. These timbers often have features caused by growth abnormalities or fungal discolouration (spalded beech) . Hardwoods, laminates and even conifers (for weathering) increasingly feature as interior and exterior sculptures. Churches, offices and public buildings provide an outlet for this work. In Ireland bog yew is popular as small pieces.

Woodcuts are a long established process for printing and fine art work. Wooden folk art can be acquired world wide be the ever further traveling tourist. Wooden toys, produced first in Europe on a manufacturing scale extended to America while giving way to other materials are still available in quality stores.

Odds and Ends
Nowadays every part of the tree is used the bark provides garden compost and safe surfaces for playgrounds.