Clock craft and the materials they use
One rainy afternoon I found myself staring at my vintage wooden wall clock and began to quietly wonder to myself what type of wood was used to expertly craft the timepiece now gently ticking time by in my Living Room.
Was it Oak, Pine or some exotic species unknown to the casual connoisseur such as myself? These passing thoughts lead me down a spiralling rabbit hole as I began to do some research into the types of wood available specifically for the manufacture of clocks; back when we started.
Here is a list of different types of woods I found to make wall clocks. American Walnut, Zebrano, Rosewood, Oak, Olive, Maple and the delightful Mango.
Let's look in a little more detail into each type of wood below.
The American Walnut!
Juglans nigra, the eastern American Black Walnut, is a species of deciduous tree in the walnut family. Black walnut is an incredibly important tree commercially as the wood is a deep brown color and easily worked which makes it excellent for the manufacture of clocks. The bark is typically grey-black and deeply furrowed into thin ridges which gives the bark a truly unique diamond shaped pattern.
Black Walnut is one of the most abundant trees in the eastern US, particularly the Northeast, and its numbers are increasing due to epidemics that have affected other tree species such as Dutch elm disease and Gypsy moth infestations.
The Black Walnut was introduced into Europe in 1629 and is highly prized for its dark-colored, straight grained, true heartwood. It is heavy, strong, shock resistant and yet can be easily split and worked. The wood can be kiln dried and holds its shape well after seasoning, which makes this wood even more attractive for wood working and clock making.
Interesting Fact about Black Walnut: Walnut wood has historically been used for gun stocks, furniture, flooring, paddles and coffins.
What is the height of the tallest Black Walnut tree?
The tallest black walnut in Europe is located in the Woluwe Park in the city of Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, Brussels, Belgium. It has a circumference of 3.50 m (11 ft 6 in), height of exactly 33.60 m (110.2 ft) (measured by laser), and was planted around 1850.
What is the Largest Black Walnut Tree?
The largest Black Walnut in Europe is located in the Castle Park in the city of Sereď, Slovakia. It has a circumference of 6.30 m (20 ft 8 in), height of 25 m (82 ft) and estimated age of 300 years.
We love walnut so much that we created a walnut wood wall clock
African Zebrano wood
What is Zebrano Wood?
Zebrawood is characterized by a striped figure that is reminiscent of a zebra.
Zebrawood was first recorded in the British Customs returns for 1773 when 180 pieces of zebrawood were imported from the Mosquito Coast, a British colony (now the Republic of Honduras and Nicaragua) and was commonly used in British furniture-making between 1810 and 1860.
The wood is now imported from central Africa, (Gabon, Cameroon and Congo) and its highly figured heartwood is pale golden yellow, distinct from the very pale color of the sapwood and features narrow streaks of dark brown to black. Zebrawood can also be a pale brown with regular or irregular marks of dark brown in varying widths. It is almost always quartersawn to get the exciting alternating color pattern you see and these streaks give the heartwood a zebra-stripe appearance hence the name zebrawood.
It is a heavy, hardwood with a somewhat coarse texture, often with an interlocked or wavy grain. As it is a decorative exotic wood it is used in a limited way for veneer, wall paneling, custom furniture and furniture trim.
Interesting Fact: In the past, it was used in Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz automobiles, because of its hardness, it can also be used for skis and tool handles.
The African Zebrawood is much sought after for its beautiful black and creamy striped timber. Instantly recognisable as one of the largest trees in the forest.
How tall does a zebrawood tree grow?
The zebrawood towers above other trees in the forest reaching a height of up to 40m. The African Zebrawood is also of high economic value. It’s black and creamy striped timber fetches high prices from the international market as it can be varnished or polished to a beautiful finish.
We decided to create a wall clock from this exotic variety here
Dalbergia sissoo, known commonly as North Indian rosewood is a fast-growing, hardy, deciduous rosewood tree native to the Indian subcontinent and southern Iran.
It is the best known economic timber species of the rosewood sold internationally, but it is also used as fuel wood and for shade and shelter.
After teak, it is the most important cultivated timber tree of Bihar, which is the largest producer of Rosewood in India. In Bihar, the tree is planted on roadsides, along canals, and as a shade tree for tea plantations. It is also commonly planted in southern Indian cities such as Bangalore.
North Indian rosewood is usually dried before being used in furniture and clock manufacturing, a process commonly known as seasoning. Locally, it is left in the open to dry under the sun for about 6 months. Commercially, it is dried in closed chambers with hot-air circulation for approx 15 days or less depending on weather conditions.
Interesting Fact about Rosewood
North Indian rosewood is among the finest cabinet and veneer timbers in the world. It is the wood from which 'mridanga', the Rajasthani percussion instrument, is often made and in addition to musical instruments, it is used for plywood, agricultural tools and flooring.
World stocks of Rosewood are extremely poor through overexploitation therefore as a result Rosewood is now protected worldwide.
At a summit of the international wildlife trade in South Africa, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) placed all 300 species of the rosewood tree under trade restrictions. Essentially, all rosewood, regardless of where it comes from, is now regulated.
The mighty Oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many countries. In England, oaks have been a national symbol dating back to at least the sixteenth century, often used by Shakespeare to convey heritage and power.
In England today the Oak remain a symbol of the nation's history, traditions, and the beauty of its countryside. Oak wood is expensive because it is a hardwood. Hardwoods are more dense, strong and durable but grow much slower than softwood which makes them more expensive. As Oak resists everyday wear and tear whilst offering natural beauty it fits almost any home decor style as a truly stylish and elegant feature.
Oak is of course part of our wooden wall clock collection. How could we not?!
Olive wood is farmed form the trees of Olea europaea. It is rich and vibrant in its color which is prized all around the world for its appearance, density, straight grain and fine texture. Originally found around the eastern coast of Mediterranean Olive wood is very strong, but it has a high sensitivity to outside elements and insect attacks. Because of this it is commonly only user for indoor furniture such as wooden clocks and tapas bowls.
Visually, olive wood has a strikingly rich and colorful appearance, which makes it perfect for use in decorative objects which can be easily polished to a high degree.
Olive trees became commercially cultivated in the territories of Crete and ancient Syria more than five thousand years ago.
Even before commercial cultivation, olives were used in our ancestor's diets in Egypt, Create, Greece, Macedonia, Italy and Spain. The oldest surviving records of olive leaves were found on the Greek Island of Santorini, which was dated back to 60 thousand years ago!
The Maple is one of America’s most beloved trees and the history of maple is as intriguing as the tree itself, spanning several centuries.
Maple trees existed in North America for hundreds of years and the sugary sap was harvested by Native Americans. However, modern maple tree history began in 1663 when the chemist Robert Boyle described the “new world” tree to Europeans. As well as describing the sugar-making process used by Native Americans he noted other interesting maple tree uses such as how the Native Americans brewed cough medicine from the tree’s inner bark how the ashes made soap and how settlers used the bark as a dye. Over time people also were known to consume the sap as a spring tonic, while others ingested it to treat liver and kidney problems.
The mango tree is predominantly known around the world for its popular sweet fruit but it can also be successfully cultivated for the production of wood.
Mango wood does not have a large presence on the worldwide market however its heartwood is still used extensively in India for the production of cheaper furniture, musical instruments and flooring.
There are several reasons why the Mango tree is experiencing a big boom in popularity right now, the first because of its speed of growth which is between seven and fifteen years. The second benefit is that harvesting does not require extensive processing, seasoning, and drying. It can be sent to final processing almost immediately after cutting and the third reason why Mango wood has experienced growth worldwide is that many of its core and visual characteristics are similar to the popular teak.
Since the population of the Mango tree can be quickly replenished than those of teak and several other tree types that are listed as vulnerable or near extinction, this wood has become a viable alternative.
Mango wood is categorized as hardwood because of its strength, density, attractive looks and of course durability that allows it not to wear out quickly and to keep its high luster texture for many years. These capabilities have made it suitable for the production of various household objects, ranging from doors, flooring to beds, tables, drawers,clocks and other furniture.
The fascinating texture of mango gives this wood a special kind of appeal, with colors ranging from dark tones to light brown, sometimes with a hint of pink. As with many other types of woods, Mango wood will slowly get darker with age
In addition mango wood is also friendly to waxing and staining, making it excellent for use in the creation of remarkable finish which truly stands out on any decorative piece.
The origin of domesticated Mango tree can be traced all the way back to ancient India, some four thousand years ago. Today the Mango fruit is the national fruit of India, Philippines, and Pakistan, and the tree itself is national tree of the country of Bangladesh.
So as you can see my research has opened up a wonderful world of traditional, popular, rare and truly exotic woods, all of which would make superb eye catching features in any home.
Which style of wood is your favourite?