know your timber

Selection of timber samples on the FSC stand at northmodern

Several exhibitions I have been to recently have had a display or section about timber showing different types of wood.

At Northmodern in January, the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) display of student work had a simple set of samples of timbers. Identifying what the wood is has to be the first stage of determining if it is sustainable and also if some trees can no longer be felled then it is important to find other timber that might do a similar job.

Practice Makes Perfect, an exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen about the furniture designs and teaching of Kaare Klint, has on show some of the samples of timber that Klint had in the teaching collection here. He knew that it was important for students to understand how different timbers not only looked different but had very different qualities and properties. Different timber was used for different parts of a piece of furniture or for different types of furniture.

samples of types of wood that Kaare Klint used for teaching

In the next gallery at the design museum is an exhibition about cupboards, cabinets and chests - Skuffer, skabe og skrin - and here there is a small but important section on timbers for furniture making with identified samples of many of the timbers found in the exhibition … each sample has half treated with a sealant or finish to show how the grain and colour changes from the appearance of the plain smooth and sanded wood. There is also a fantastic line of science-laboratory jars filled with wood shavings and when you lift the stoppers you get a good sense of how aromatic some of these timbers are and a hint of just how amazing it is to saw or sand or plane some wood.



samples of wood, shavings from aromatic wood and historic woodwork tools on display in the exhibition about cupboards, cabinets and chests at Designmuseum Danmark