Have you ever walked through a forest and marveled at the beauty of it all– the green heaven, the rustle of fallen leaves, the whisper of the wind, the birds in the branches and the wonderful majesty of the trees. That beauty can be transferred to the objects made from the wood of those very trees – mahogany furniture, cedar toys, rosewood jewelry boxes, teak decks on ships, ebony carved statues
Throughout the ages, wood has been a raw material. The first peoples made shelters using wood and animal skins. The first tools were made of wood and the first hunting spears were wooden. Dating back to Neolithic times, bowls and plates carved from wood have been found, as have wooden idols. In some Egyptian tombs, ancient wooden chairs have been preserved. And in some cultures, coffins were carved from the trunks of trees.
In this country, the Native American tepees we made on a wood frame, and their canoes were, at first, hollowed out tree trunks. Later, some built a lightweight wooden frame, probably of cedar, covered with bark sewn together with tree roots, and sealed with a mixture of sap and fats. Of course, the paddles were made of wood.
Some of the most beautiful homes built by the pilgrims and other immigrants used wood from trees growing in the settled areas. The inlaid designs in the furniture and floors certainly indicate the high level of expertise of the builders. Early settlers in the west built log cabins, and even today, log cabins are being built in some parts of the country. Some of the so-called log cabins, however, that people are having built, mostly for vacation homes, are built with planks of wood, rather than whole logs. These early settlers also built their own furniture and fashioned some interesting dolls and toys from wood, some of which have become prized family antiques, collector’s items, or are being copied today by talented wood workers to please more children.
Of course, everyone knows that early ships were built of wood. Early Egyptians knew how to take planks of wood, hold them together with treenails and use pitch to caulk the seams. The first mast may have been two wooden poles lashed together at the top to make a triangular shape, to which a single sail was attached. Although this was basically a sailing ship, it could be propelled by human power with oars.
Different groups designed their ships differently, but for a long time, all would be made of wood. Some of the most beautiful model ships are replicas of the early sailing ships. The craftsmen who build these models to scale use some of the most beautiful woods.
In modern homes, wood is prized. Hardwood floors are more desirable than cheap wood covered by carpet, solid wood furniture costs more, but it is chosen by those who can afford it. One sometimes sees occasional tables made from a slice of a large tree trunk. It’s fun to count the annual rings which indicate the age at which the tree was cut. There are innumerable ways in which wood is used, but one seldom stops to think of what nature provided.
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