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Design & Technology

Materials

The material types used in resistant materials are woods, metals, plastics, ceramics and composites. Each of these has its own characteristic working properties, such as strength, malleability, conductivity, toughness and durability.

Timber

There are two types of timber, called hardwood and softwood. These names do not refer to the properties of the wood: some softwoods can be hard and some hardwoods can be soft.

Softwood

Softwoods come from coniferous trees which are evergreen, needle-leaved, cone-bearing trees, such as cedar, fir and pine.

Hardwood

Hardwoods come from broad-leaved, deciduous trees. The main hardwood timbers are ash, beech, birch, cherry, elm, iroko, mahogany, meranti, oak, obeche, sapele and teak.

Properties and uses of hardwood timbers.

NamePropertiesUses
Ash AshLight, creamy-brown colour, open-grained [open grain: A wood with visible large pores - eg oak. ], tough [tough: Able to withstand blows or sudden shocks without breaking. ], flexible [flexible: Capable of being bent or flexed many times without breaking. ]Sports equipment, wooden ladders, tool handles
Beech BeechWhite to pinkish-brown in colour, close-grained [close-grained: A wood with no visible large pores - eg beech. ], hard [hard: Able to resist wear, scratching and indentation. ], tough, strong [strong: Able to withstand a force without breaking or bending. ], warps [warps: Bends or twists out of shape, this is common with wood as it dries. ] easilyFurniture, toys, tool handles
Elm ElmLight to medium brown in colour, open and sometimes interlocking grain [interlocking grain: The grains have a weaved structure. For wood this makes it strong, less prone to splitting andn often suitable for bending. ], tough, durable [durability: The ability of a material to withstand wear, especially as a result of weathering. ], resists splitting, durable in waterIndoor and outdoor furniture
Mahogany MahoganyPink to reddish-brown colour, fairly strong, durable, some interlocking grainGood quality furniture
Oak OakLight brown colour, strong, hard, tough, open-grained, corrodes steel screws and fittingsInterior woodwork, good quality furniture

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