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Have you ever wondered where wood comes from? We all know that paper comes from wood and our furniture, firewood, and home accents are made from wood but have you ever thought just where does your wood come from? Whether you have wooden flooring or a wooden spatula, here is a guide to show you where does wood really come from.
The origin of wood
A quick answer to this question: wood comes from trees and so does wood byproducts like paper, boxes, packaging materials, shingles, flooring, insulation and more. Trees grow in forests as well as in parks, yards, and gardens. Every tree is capable of providing wood but not all trees can be cut or felled for wood. Only wood from certified forests is allowed to be cut to make different products.
The structure of wood
Take a tree and remove the outer “skin” or bark and what you will be setting your eyes on two different kinds of wood. Closest to the edge or the outer bark is the layer called sapwood. This is packed with tubes called xylem that delivers water from the roots to the leaves and the different structures of the tree.
Inside the sapwood, there’s a much darker, harder, part of the tree called the heartwood. Around the outer edge of the sapwood is a thin active layer called the cambium. This is where the tree is actually growing outward little by little each year.
What’s wood like?
The inner structure and composition of a tree make wood what it is and what it can be used for. There are hundreds of different species, therefore, making generalizations about “wood” isn’t always the best answer.
Wood and energy
Wood is a relatively good heat insulator which is handy when you are constructing or assembling structures and buildings. Dry, well-seasoned wood burns well and creates a great deal of heat energy. Wood can also absorb sound very well and this is a good value especially in sound insulation. There are some wooden objects that can also be designed to amplify sounds like in musical instruments. Wood is a poor conductor of electricity but, it’s piezoelectric.
Wood is prized for being a natural and environmentally friendly. If you plant a new tree for every old tree you cut down, you can go on using wood for a long time without causing damage to the environment. In practice, you need to replace like with like, therefore, how do you replace an old tree with another old tree? Even if you plant a thousand saplings you will never be able to replace one old tree.
Before wood can be used to make furniture, paper, cardboard, building materials and more, it has to undergo a complex journey that takes harvesting, seasoning, preserving and other treatments before it can be cut and assembled to wood products and items we use every day.
Wood is a plant crop that must be harvested the difference is how long trees take to grow often many years or even decades. How wood is harvested depends as to whether the trees are in your yard, in a forest or in a plantation.
To regulate wood use, planted trees may be grown according to a plan and clear-cut or felled when the tree reaches maturity. This makes sense if the trees are fast-growing planted specifically for use as biomass fuel.
Individual trees can also be selectively felled from a forest and then hauled by trucks or airlifted by a helicopter to avoid damaging other trees. Sometimes trees have their bark and small branches cut while still in the forest before being hauled away for further processing in a nearby lumber yard but some may be removed intact as the processing and cutting are done offsite.
A form of forestry is called coppicing. This involves removing only the long, thin low-growing branches of trees. This does not inflict long-term damage to trees and is a careful way of harvesting wood. Coppicing is done to hazel and willow trees.
Wood comes from trees. But before wood reaches lumber yards, your local hardware stores and before it reaches your home, it undergoes a long process which starts from the forest or land where wood is grown. As there are many wood species, there are varying characteristics in wood as well making it a versatile material for the construction of different products that we use every day.