The Ultimate Guide to Wood Slabs - Part II

Welcome back to Part II of this two-part series - “The Ultimate Guide To Wood Slabs”. In Part I, we covered the various styles of wood slabs. In this sequel, we will elaborate on the characteristics of various solid wood materials, and what makes these wood species a must-have in your home!

Types of solid wood materials

Here at Grey and Sanders, we carry seven kinds of wood species for our solid wood slab dining tables. From the widely popular American Black Walnut prized for its dark and mesmerising grains to the exotic Bubinga, much revered for its high hardness and amber red hues, we’ve pretty much painstakingly cherry-picked some of the best for you! Find out why these species we carry, fit in most interior designs or trends. It’s time to dive into these seven sublime wood species!

Black Walnut

Black Walnut trees are commonly found in the United States. Their grains tend to have more character as compared to other wood species.

Black Walnut is highly sought after for its dark colour, rich grains, and exceptional quality in durability, resistance to decay, termites, and warping. For these same reasons, prices of Black Walnut have been steadily increasing over the past few decades, making it one of the most expensive wood materials. Black Walnut provides an elegant look that draws attention to its overall magnificence, making it a suitable centrepiece solid wood furniture -- be it dining table, chair or TV console -- for most interiors.

More on its background, Walnut is typically associated with American Black Walnut, as the United States — typically Missouri — supplies most of the Black Walnut in the market. However, there are many other types of Walnut such as the English Walnut or Russian Walnut which come from their respective countries but have different grain patterns that are not as popular as American Black Walnut in current day context.

Typically, the average Black Walnut species doesn’t grow wide as it does in height. Its trunk width is usually around 0.6-1m, but in rare cases, widths pushing above 1m can be found. The ideal width for a dining table is between 80-90cm. This is to ensure that comfort is optimised. However, due to the natural width of Black Walnut trees, it is rare to make a “single slab” dining table. (P.S We receive single slabs occasionally, if you do see a slab you love, speak to one of us and let us share with you why this rare slab is a worthy investment and a must-have in your home!). Here at Grey and Sanders, we carry all four forms of Walnut slabs. Find out about the different types of slabs we carry in our first blog post here!

The inherent grains of the Black Walnut make exquisite guitars designs.

Teak

Commonly associated with Burmese Teak (not all Teak originate from Myanmar), their grains are straight — sleek yet simple which many adore.

Teak, A.K.A the “King of hardwood”, is one of the most sought after woods in the world. It is well-known and valued for its beauty and durability. Its durability comes from the high oil content the wood possesses, which gives the wood it's superior rot resistance. However, the tree will only start developing oil after some age, typically beyond 10 years. Therefore, the desirable qualities of Teak that we know and love, are only found in old-growth teak. The bulk of the Teak furniture available and sold in the retail market usually uses young plantation Teak but passing them off as though they have the same durability of old Teak, which is misleading.

Fun fact: Teak is one of the longest standing staple wood material used throughout centuries, mainly for furniture and boat decks. Dating back to the 7th century, Teak has been favoured by carpenters and furniture lovers, a testament to its timelessness.

Teak is one of the rare wood species that can be used as outdoor furniture. The appreciation of Teak has allowed this species to travel worldwide. However, it has depleted over the years due to illegal logging. For this reason, the old-growth teak we carry at Grey and Sanders are ethically sourced through government-controlled or FSC-certified sources.

Typically used for boat decking as much as furniture, the oil within Teak wood allows them to be more resistant to saltwater.

Oak

The Oak species we carry comes from France, the arrow-like features are called rays. They serve as a link between the core of the tree to the edge.

In ancient times, the Japanese took wood preservation techniques to the next level by torching quality wood such as Oak on the outside, radically elevating its durability. This ancient technique is known as Yakisugi, and the product of this technique is known colloquially as Shou Sugi Ban. The choice of wood determines the aesthetic outcome of the charring process, and we have found the French White Oak to be amongst the most compatible for making Shou Sugi Ban. This is because once charred, the French White Oak’s dense and interlocking wood fibers result in a prominent yet elegant grain that balances ruggedness and refinement.

Once charred, the grains of the Oak wood is accentuated, as seen in our very own Shou Sugi Ban!

Ash

Ash trees are commonly found in North America and have straight grains similar to those of Oak.

Ashwood is commonly used for furniture due to its durability and beauty. Being available in abundance, and also possessing good characteristics such as resistance to warping, decay, and termites, Ashwood is one of the most common materials used in solid wood furniture. Ashwood's excellent impact resistance and high tensile strength make it an ideal choice for demanding applications such as making baseball bats, or tool handles of hammers and axes.

Nonetheless, not all Ashwoods are born equal, as the same tree species that are grown in different parts of the world, can change in property and characteristics. At Grey and Sanders, our Ashwood originates from North America, which has their durability retained, while also having very attractive grains. Moreover, our single and bookmatched wood slab dining tables are crafted only from older trees that have grown wide enough, adding a touch of rarity.

Our Ashwood tables start from 1.3m and go up to 2.6m in length. Browse through our online catalogue here!

Fun fact: The scientific name of Ashwood is called “Fraxinus”, a Latin word for “spear”. Its name originated from the spear-like leaves of the tree, and also due to its common usage in ancient weaponry, particularly the shafts of spears.

Exotic Species

We hope you’ve enjoyed the previous four wood species that can be found in most of the furniture markets. However, it’s time to delve into exotic species which are not as widely attainable, but can be found here, at Grey and Sanders!

Bubinga

Bubinga Trees are native to five different African countries. The wood is typically reddish giving it its nickname the African rosewood.

Due to its natural rosewood-like colour, it is considered to be a timeless classic. The contrast between the heartwood — inner portions of the tree — and sapwood — outer portions — is distinctive: both the reddish tone of the heartwood paired with the lighter-toned sapwood creates a stunning piece overall.

As seen in the few slabs we carry, the sap and heartwood are easily distinguished due to their vast difference in colours.

Another feature that makes this species a favourite is its superior hardness and density. This is due to its densely-packed grains; the wood is hefty and sturdy. Due to its rarity, we only carry a handful of Bubinga slabs. Head down to our showrooms to view this exotic piece today!

Certain species of Bubinga can grow up to 49m in height and 18m in width.

Leadwood

There are ample Leadwood trees across the continent of Africa. The wood is heavy due to its closely packed grains as seen above.

Just like Bubinga, Leadwood has a strong and dark tone. With this species found in almost half of the continent of Africa, it is sustainable. However, unlike the Bubinga, Leadwood has relatively smaller trunks. The average trunk can grow up to 1m in width. The grains of Leadwood are closely packed together, making it heavier as compared to other species of hardwood. Leadwood can come in any configuration, whether it’s single, bookmatched, or hexo. To find out how two different pieces of wood are joined together to form a bookmatch or hexo table, do read part I of The Ultimate Guide To Wood Slabs here!

Leadwood is commonly used for carvings due to its natural dark colour and density, resulting in respectably weighty display ornaments.

Poplar

Poplar trees have been used as Christmas trees in certain countries due to their appearance and shape.

Poplar is also known as “Tulip” wood, simply because the flowers which this tree blooms resemble those of tulips. The Poplar species has a lighter hue which suits Scandinavian and minimalist interior designs.

The grains of Poplar are usually straight. However, at Grey and Sanders, our Poplar comes with burls, an even rarer find! Burls are tree growths that form due to fungi. Burls provide our Poplar slabs with mesmerising patterns that almost resemble swirls of river. These grain patterns make Poplar a stunning and intricate piece as a whole. Head down to our Tan Boon Liat showroom to view this exquisite piece today!

Burl is beautiful when you cut them open for slabs and other use. An example of the beauty of burl with Poplar can be admired in this watch box.

You’re now fully equipped to buy a new table!

Now that you’ve read our Ultimate Guide To Woods Slabs Part I and II, we hope you’re well informed with the type of wood species we have handpicked for you at Grey and Sanders! When it comes to the durability of the wood, it does not only come down to the material of the slabs but also how we treat and dry the wood. We ensure that all of our wood slabs go through the rigorous drying and treating processes before selling them to you. This ensures that these lovely pieces of wood will last a lifetime, and perhaps for you to hand it down to the next generation!

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