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Teak
Of all the tropical hardwood species, and perhaps all tree species, teak exudes a particular fascination, somewhat like gold among the precious metals. Appreciated for more than 2.000 years as an extraordinarily durable building timber in its native range in Asia, teak is now coveted worldwide. Its extremely good dimensional stability and aesthetic qualities have led to its use, for example, in shipbuilding, fine furniture and door and window frames.

Teak, native to India, Myanmar, the Lao People´s Democratic Republic and Thailand, has been introduced to numerous countries in tropical Asia, Africa and the Americas. However, management of the resource has not kept pace with demand, and supplies of teak wood from natural forests have dwindled. Today, harvesting of teak from natural forests is banned or severely restricted in all the countries within teak´s natural range, except Myanmar.

The general notion prevailing among teak users is that fast-growing teak produces only light, weak and spongy wood (Bryce, 1966). However, studies conducted at the Forest Research Institute in Dehra Dun, India, do not support this view. Although plantation trees grow faster than forest trees , it has been shown that the relationship between growth rate and strength is not significant (Sekar, 1972).

Studies by Sanwo (1986) based on dominant, co-dominant and subdominant trees from a 27 year old teak plantation in Nigeria showed that the rate of growth has no significant influence on specific gravity. Teak wood is generally stronger at the upper and lower ends and comparatively weak at intermediate heights. A study on 20 years old teak trees grown in plantations in wet areas in India gave similar results (Kondas, 1995).

Other studies have indicated that wood density and mechanical properties are independent of growth rate or that fast-grow trees of ring-porous species have higher wood density and strength (Harris, 1981; Bhat, Bhat and Dhamodaran, 1987; Rajput, Shukla an Lai, 1991). More recently, a study on the wood properties of fast-grown plantation teak trees of different ages revealed that there were no significant differences in wood density, modulus of rupture (MOR), modulus of elasticity (MOE) or maximum crushing stress (Bhat, 1998). It was concluded that young trees (13 to 21 years of age) are not necessarily inferior in wood density and strength to older trees aged 55 and 65 years, and hence that the rotation age of fast-grow teak wood can be reduced without affecting the timber strength.

Various products such as glue-edged boards, furniture, doors and small teakwood artefacts have been made from thinning materials, showing that even sapwood can be used to produce high quality objects.
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