The man has always been able to use, with more or less advanced techniques, wood both as an energy source and as a starting material for the realization of goods. Woodworking was one of the first human limbs: from clubs and lances to the dawn of civilization, to canoes dug in tree trunks, to plows used in agriculture, to three-legged stools to complex structures of modern era.
Primitive man used wood to defend himself, to hunt, to keep warm and to erect stilt houses. Over time, river navigation began to develop and it is here that the Egyptians and later the Greeks and Romans used this material to build boats. Then, it was medieval and Renaissance art that made wood an indispensable means for building furniture and creating beautiful sculptures.
Even today, despite the availability of other materials, wood continues to be used in large quantities in construction, for the construction of furniture and for obtaining products useful to humans, such as paper and all other cellulosic materials.
Since the Middle Ages, as a result of deforestation of forests, wood became an increasingly expensive material and that is why today’s industries are increasingly using composite materials such as plywood, chipboard and cartonfibra, products that do not deform as easily as natural wood and do not require long seasoning.
Before the ’50s and’ 60s almost in every family there was a carpenter, or at least someone who knew how to work wood. The real carpenter was established following the “boom” of the 60s, a period in which he began to proliferate workshops / workshops on this job, however, he was forced to modernize if he wanted to keep up with the industry.
After the 60s, in fact, the carpenter / craftsman was forced to expand his space, inserting some machines, necessary to carry on his business and not to run the risk of closing the shop. Most of them today have set out on the path of modern mechanization; few, however, have made the big leap in the industry itself.
Perennial plants are characterized by the presence of stems and branches that grow concentrically outward from year to year and from the tissues composed essentially of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Wood can have different names, depending on the use it is intended for:
- wood if it provides fuel
- work timber, construction, if directed towards such uses.
Wood is produced by the plant as a structural element, with excellent characteristics of strength and resistance, and is therefore used for human use. As already mentioned, the wood is made of cellulose fibers retained by a lignin matrix; the role of hemicellulose has not yet been clarified.
Once cut, seasoned and dried, the wood is used for a wide variety of uses:
- Decomposed into fibers gives rise to the wood pulp, used to produce paper
- It can be carved and worked with special tools
- It has been an important building material since the origins of humanity, when man began to build his own shelters and still in use
- It is used as fuel for heating and cooking
- It is used for the production of paper, through the production of cellulose pulp, having replaced in the industrial era the cotton or other plants, richer in cellulose but less abundant and therefore less suitable for the new production regimes
Wood is commercially classified as soft and hard. The wood derived from conifers (for example pine or fir) is of a tender type, the wood of angiosperms (alder, oak, walnut) is hard. In fact, this subdivision can be misleading, as some hard woods are softer than those defined as soft, such as balsa, while some soft are harder than hard, such as badger. In reality this distinction derives from the English nomenclature that defines the softwood conifers and the hardwood hardwoods, but the translation in softwood and hardwood is a mistake of overcorrectionism, given that the two English words simply mean – and respectively – conifers and deciduous trees.
Wood from different species has different colors, different densities and different grain characteristics. Because of these differences and different rates of growth, the different types of wood have different qualities and values. For example, the real mahogany (Swiestenia mahogani), dense and dark, is excellent for inlays and refined finishes, while the balsa, light, soft, with a spongy consistency easily engraved, is used in the creation of models.