Teak is one of the fastest growing exotic hardwoods in the world. It grows in many countries around the world, but it is native to Southeastern Asia. Approximately one-third of the world's production comes from Burma. Other countries where teak grows include: Thailand, India, Laos, and Malaysia. It is also found in Africa, as well as in Central America and in the Caribbean Islands. Unlike most other exotic hardwood species, teak is not considered a rainforest species, but can survive in many climatic conditions. It can grow in elevations up to 3500 feet, and grows best in the highlands of the tropical regions. In order to achieve its maximum potential for growth, teak requires full sunshine, moist climate conditions, and fertile damp soils that are well drained.
Typically teak has a straight to wavy grain pattern, but on occasion it can be mottled or fiddlebacked. Its texture is coarse, with dense uneven fibers and open pores. It also possesses average stiffness, and hardness, but is very strong and weighs approximately 42 lbs/cu. ft. Its heartwood ranges from golden-brown to a contrasting dark brown. Teak is oily to the touch, which makes it an extremely durable wood. It can withstand most weather conditions, and it is also very resistant to insects and decay.
Teak can be easily worked with power equipment and hand tools. The only drawback is that it has a dulling effect on cutting edges and tools. Teak also carves very well and turns without problems. Due to the extreme oily conditions of teak, dry sanding can be a challenge, because the combination of the sanding dust and the oil, it can quickly load up the sand- paper. One way to help solve this problem is to use waterproof sandpaper and dampen the wood first. Teak hold fasteners very well, but pre-drilling holes is necessary. Most glues work well if the natural oils are cleaned with acetone just prior to applying the glue. If the project will be exposed to inclement weather, waterproof urethane or resorcinol resin glues are recommended. Also, wood filler is recommended prior to finishing, due to its open pores and coarse texture. Because of its dark color, teak is rarely stained. Teak will accept most finishes well, but clear finishes like lacquer or varnish are recommended. Also, teak sealer can be used to preserve the natural beauty of the wood and provide U.V. protection from the sun.
Teak is a beautiful wood, and due to its resistant qualities and low maintenance, it is well suited for outdoor uses such as boat decks and trim, doors, outdoor furniture such as patio decks, benches, and tables. Indoor uses include flooring, furniture, cabinets, paneling, veneers, carvings, serving trays and woodenware. Turned projects such as bowls, chess pieces, fancy pens, pool cues, trinkets and novelties are popular items.
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Wood Species Index
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