Characteristics and Availability of Commercially Important Woods

“Throughout history, the unique characteristics and abundance of wood have made it a natural material for homes and other structures, furniture, tools, vehicles, and decorative objects. Today, for the same reasons, wood is prized for a multitude of uses.”

So begins Wood Handbook’s Chapter Two: Characteristics and Availability of Commercially Important Woods by Michael C. Wiemann, a research botanist at FPL.


FPL botanist Michael Wiemann

Variations in the characteristics and proportions of the building blocks of wood – primarily cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses – make woods “heavy or light, stiff or flexible, and hard or soft” writes Wiemann. To use wood most effectively in engineering applications, “specific characteristics or physical properties must be considered.”

Chapter Two covers timber resources and uses, describing the roughly 100 species available in the U.S. and 30 species commonly imported in the form of logs, cants, lumber, and veneer for industrial uses, building trade, and crafts.

A comprehensive Scientific Name Index – including latin and common names – is also available in Chapter Two, starting on page 2-41. The full index lists domestic and imported hardwood and softwood species names.