Why We Don't Sell Suar Wood?
Many customers often come to us to enquire about Suar wood. We tell them that it's not a product that we carry as Indonesian Suar wood is very problematic. This timber has a tendency to warp, split, and grow mold easily. This is due to the lack of wood drying expertise in Indonesia. As such, the factories there tend to take shortcuts when it comes to drying suar wood.
If you're looking to purchase Suar wood as your next solid wood furniture or quite frankly any wood slabs for that matter, we highly recommend that you read the rest of this article. It'll help you stay informed and avoid some potential pitfalls!
What Is Suar Wood?
Suar wood is the Indonesian variant of Albizia Saman, a tree native to South America. It was introduced to the region in the mid 19th century by Portuguese colonists as a plantation tree. A fast-growing tree by nature, it has spread throughout the region and is commonly used for wood slab furniture such as dining tables.
Prone to Splits, Warps & Mold
As mentioned earlier, the Indonesian Suar is prone to splits, warps, and mold. This is because of the high moisture content in the wood itself. The high moisture content is a result of a lack of proper drying done in some of the Indonesian wood factories.
Importance of Drying Wood
Now why is drying wood important? It is a crucial process in ensuring that the wood slab becomes a usable material for furniture making. For example, properly dried wood slabs do not crack easily or succumb to potential termite infestations in the future.
There are two main methods of wood drying. The first is to let the wood sit in a dry place for over a year for the moisture to naturally escape. The second involves putting the wood in a heated kiln to expedite the drying. The second method normally takes 30 to 45 days, and takes years of R&D to figure out the best combination of temperatures and time frame to dry the wood effectively. Most factories do not have the time or space to keep wood for so long, so the second method is what that is more commonly used.
Unfortunately, most Indonesian factories do not do this diligently. Kiln drying is a complicated process involving high fixed and variable costs as well as proper methods. As such, these factories dry Suar wood in an air-drying process over a shorter period. They then “seal in” the moisture with many layers of lacquer to prevent warping and cracking in the near term. However, this is a temporary solution as the moisture eventually escapes causing many problems to the wood and the unfortunate buyer!
Besides the investments needed to purchase a kiln and the electricity needed to heat it for 30 to 45 days, another major cost is the amount of material lost during the drying process. A lot of time and effort will be needed to be spent leveling slabs that warp in the drying process too. Hence this is another reason why some Indonesian factories prefer to air dry their Suar wood instead.
Signs that a slab is not dry: Thickness of Wood
To be fair to some retailers, there are a minority of factories that do dry their wood properly in Indonesia. Hence as a furniture buyer, it's good to be able to differentiate dried wood slabs from those that aren't. Let us show you how!
The first sign of wood not being dry is its thickness. Contrary to what some customers think, thicker is not better when it comes to wood slabs. As a guide, anything more than 7cm is not dried properly; the moisture is too far in for it to escape.
Signs that a slab is not dry: Too Much Lacquer
If the wood is finished with many layers of lacquer, it could be a sign that a retailer is trying to prevent their not-so-dry wood from cracking. Although it might have been an aesthetical choice to give it a more glossier look, it's always good to be wary of heavily lacquered wood slabs.
Alternatives to Suar Wood
If you're concerned with the potential problems that come with Suar wood, don't worry we've got your back! There are many other solid wood slabs that would make great dining tables. Two perfect alternatives are the American Black Walnut and the Burmese Teak. These wood slabs have a dark to golden brown colour tone that is similar to the Indonesian Suar. These wood slabs are also stable and are highly unlikely to warp. What's more, they are often properly dried, and have good durability.
Buying wood slab furniture, let alone Suar wood, can get a little tricky. We hope that the tips and tricks in this article will help you in your hunt for that perfect wood slab. If you have more questions on wood furniture, do drop by our showrooms and have a chat with us! We will be honoured to be a part of your furnishing journey.
As with all natural wooden products, no slab is risk-free from warping or splitting. Going through the proper processes greatly reduces the probability of such things happening.