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Species – Teak

Species Information - Teak

Species Information

Teak is a tropical hardwood tree in the family Lamiaceae. It’s a large, deciduous tree with small, fragrant white flowers and papery leaves. It can grow to up to 130 feet. Its fruit sets from September to December.

Teak has a leather-like smell when milled, and is valued for its durability and water resistance. As such, teak is often used for outdoor purposes, such as boatbuilding, construction and more. It’s also used for veneer, furniture, and other small wood projects.

Teak (or Tectona grandis) is one of three species in the genus Tectona (T. hamiltoniana and T. philippinensis). T. grandis is found in a variety of habitats and climates, from arid areas (with only 500 mm of rain per year) to extremely moist forests (with up to 5,000 mm of rain per year). On average, though, the annual rainfall where teak primarily grows averages around 1,250 to 1,650 mm, including a 3 – 5 month dry season.

Carl Linnaeus the Younger first described teak in 1782. Some 200 years later, Harold Norman Moldenke added four forms of this species to the journal Phytologia.

Teak’s natural oils make the timber resistant to termites and pests. It is a durable wood, even if it’s not treated with oil or varnish.

Most of the commercially harvested teak is grown on plantations throughout Indonesia. The oldest and biggest teak in the world is in the Uttaradit Province, Thailand. It’s more than 1,500 years old and is 47 meters tall.

Teak is cultivated worldwide on plantations, yet still is quite expensive. It’s considered one of the most expensive large-sized, non-figured woods on the market. Other woods (like Ebony and Snakewood) are more expensive, but are usually only available in smaller pieces, unlike Teak.

Scientific Names

Tectona grandis

Origin

Teak, or Tectona grandis, is native to south and Southeast Asia. It’s specific to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Burma. It’s also been cultivated in other regions of the world, such as Africa and the Caribbean. However, Burma accounts for nearly 1/3 of all of the world’s total teak production.

Crossover Names

Burmese Teak.

Janka Rating

The Janka rating for teak is 1,070.

Teak Janka Scale Rating 1,070

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.

Appearance

Teak’s heartwood is typically golden or medium brown. The color darkens with age. Its sapwood is a lighter cream color. The grain of teak is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. Raw, unfinished wood surfaces can have a slightly oily or greasy feel because of the tree’s natural oils.

Teak is considered the gold standard for decay resistance. It’s heartwood is rated as extremely durable.

Workability

Teak is easy to work with, except that it contains a high level of silica, which has a blunting effect on cutting edges. Even though teak features a high level of natural oils, it glues and finishes well. At times you may discover the need to wipe the surface of the wood with a solvent just before gluing/finishing so that the natural oils are reduced on the surface.

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Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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