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Archive for September, 2008

Sep
09

The history of Teak wood

Posted under Commercial Furniture, Garden Furniture, Indoor Furniture, Interior Design

The wood used to build the early Chinese sailing ships was Teak. The wood used needed to be durable, weatherproof and minimum maintenance required. It is said that the Chinese shipbuilders would bury the wood logs in moist soil for many years prior to building their ships. This made the wood far stronger and impervious to the elements that could be encountered on the water, including enemies.

The strength of the ship building materials were vital because approximately 600 years ago the Chinese commissioned by the Ming dynasty to sail to the edge of the world. Year later the British naval ships were made from Oak whish is also a very hard and durable wood. The British encountered two problems with oak: Wood Worms and a shortage of Oak trees. Woodworms were destroying the ships in the British Naval Fleet and were the scourge of wooden ships throughout history. It could take 850 oak logs to repair one ship. It took a little over 2000 oak logs just to build one ship. The British needed ships as they continued for some time to have maritime issues with the French and to be able to go on to conquer and take control of British colonies. The British naval fleet was their primary means to accomplish this.

The British knew about the Teak wood used on the Chinese ships and how strong and rugged they were after having run into them, literally in the shipping lanes. The British had learned how impervious these ships were to all of the elements at sea: Saltwater, ocean wind, and the blistering sun. It was also found that Teak was difficult to splinter when hit by gunfire or artillery fire. This was a very important issue as splintering wood was the major cause of casualties among naval warfare in the eighteenth century.

Britain was very interested to grow and produce this wood. The British quickly realized they did not need to grow Teak Wood as they could occupy those countries where the Teak wood was grown and have a plentiful supply. India, Thailand and Burma were quickly annexed into the British Empire. This of course is not the main reason why the British took over these areas, but it certainly helped to give reason. Myanmar (formerly Burma), which is just south of India, and Yangoon became the first places where Teak was being cultivated for British ships. Calcutta was set up as another British shipbuilding site. All of the British merchant ships built in Calcutta were built with Myanmar Teak logs which were said to be the best. Once the wood was depleted from India, logs were harvested from Thailand and Burma.

Teak forests were quickly being depleted and forests dwindling. Teak was now the preferred wood used for building ships, Yachts, Ocean liners and furniture. Under ocean conditions, the wood had minimal warping, cracking or shrinkage. This meant little maintenance. The wood was also impervious to wood rot and insects, like the mighty woodworm. The famous Ocean liner “Queen Mary” used no less than 1000 tons of teak when built. The British understood the depletion that was taking place and developed a re-forestation plan. They appointed a leader to head a new department and began replanting Teak trees on what are now called

Teak “plantations”. A set of very strict laws were enacted regarding who can cut Teak Wood and who can purchase it. Once these laws were set in place, one needed to have permission from the British Government to be able to cut a Teak Tree down and or export it.
Teak was also being used by the locals for huts, fence posts, and furniture. Today India is the third largest importer of Teak , followed by China and Japan. As much as 80% of India’s timber consumption is Teak. The wood is used in India today for local consumption; building homes, furniture, fencing, etc. It is the one wood that can withstand the monsoons, the scorching heat and the humidity.

Teak Wood contains natural oils and Silica (sand) which makes it impervious to insects, and wood rot. These natural substances also help it to maintain its appearance for many years.
When many of the English ships of WWII were taken apart for salvage, the Teak Wood decks were re-manufactured into outdoor furniture such as park benches. Even today they can be seen in many parts of Europe still preserved and functioning.

Sep
09

Tips on choosing a dining table

Posted under Indoor Furniture, Interior Design

Size of room:

A large dining area gives you a wide range of choices. If you have the space you can choose a large, substantial, solid wooden rectangle table which can accommodate 8 to 10 seats. Tables with thick table tops and chunky legs can look spectacular in a large room. If you have the space, then why not use it to its full capacity?

If you entertain large groups frequently however have limited space then an extendable dining table style offers the most flexibility as the size can be extended to accommodate your party size. There are huge choices of both wooden and glass
dining tables which offer this function.

For smaller dining spaces a more delicate design with thin but sturdy materials give an illusion of space. Glass and wood with aluminium supports offer the best versatility.

Before you purchase your dining set take measurements of the dining area and consider the width of the table which ideally should be a minimum of 90cm. As a general guide you should aim to have a minimum distance of 120cm between the edge of the table and the wall to allow for enough seating room.

Material:

Should you buy solid wood, glass, veneer wood or a wood aluminium mix; the choice is endless. If on a low budget there are some excellent value wooden veneer tables or a solid pine table. As pine is a softer wood it may mark and scratch easily so this is best avoided if you have children. A wooden table with a veneer layer is the best option if money is tight and you have a large family with children. Veneer wood is tough, hardwearing and can be bought fairly cheaply.
At the high end of the scale a solid, chunky wooden oak table is recommended as it is practical, looks good and will last a lifetime.

Lifestyle:

Again as with the tables there is a choice of veneer, solid wood and upholstery, real or faux leather. Once again veneer chairs are at the lower end of the budget and the price increases if you have real leather seat pads. The top end the budget and the best looking is solid oak chairs with real leather seat pads. The style of the chairs, modern, contemporary and classic is all down to personal taste and the room decoration. There is an abundance of choice so shop around and choose careful before you buy as often the chars are the most expensive part of a dining set.

A family with young children needs a table which is easy to care for and has softer rounded edges. Speaking from personal experience I would advise that if you have young children, avoid upholstery which is easy to stain and choose wipe clean dark coloured leather or faux leather chairs.

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