A knowledge of the important characteristics of some of the more popular kinds of wood is advisable. The home mechanic should know what woods are easy to, work and which are brittle and difficult to saw and plane. For painting and refinishing furniture he should know what woods Are open grained and require a filler before varnishing and which are close grained, in which a filler may not be necessary.
Spruce. A close-grain wood that is used chiefly for framing houses. It is light in color and easy to work. While strong enough for framing purposes, spruce does not stand up very well when exposed to the weather and should not be used for exterior work. It does not absorb paint very easily, and the paint should, therefore, be thinned down before application.
Fir. There are two types of fir, the Eastern and the Douglas. Fir is used extensively for framing and for floors and trim. It is light in weight and easy to work, and is used a great deal in the manufacture of plywood. A close-grained wood, fir takes both stain and paint well.
White Pine. Years ago, white pine was used for almost all home construction, now that the supply has greatly diminished, this wood is only used for trim and paneling. Light in weight, white pine is easy to work and has a close grain.
Yellow Pine. This wood is also known as hard pine, as well as by other names. It is strong enough to be used for framing, and can still be had in sufficiently wide boards to be used for paneling. It is easy to work but rather difficult to paint.
Hemlock. This wood is not very suitable for the home workshop as It shrinks and splits easily. Hemlock is brown in color, holds nails very well, and can be used for framing, sheathing, and other rough construction work. Handle this wood carefully as it contains innumerable splinters. An open-grain wood, it takes paint poorly.
Cypress. Known chiefly for the pleasant effect obtained when used for paneling, cypress can be used for interior trim. It is very resistant to the weather and, consequently, is suitable for outside fittings such as gutters. The wood has a close grain and will take stain well. It absorbs paint slowly, so ample time should be allowed between coats.
Chestnut This wood was once used extensively for building purposes, but it is very difficult to obtain today, owing to the blight which killed off most of the trees in the country. Chestnut has a natural resistance to decay, and is ideal for fence posts and in other places where the wood comes into direct contact with the ground. It is lightweight and easy to work. Chestnut is still used for interior trim and for furniture. An open-grain wood, it requires a filler before varnishing.
Oak. A heavy and a difficult wood to work, oak is used for trim, furniture, and shipbuilding. The home mechanic will encounter it often in flooring. Oak is open grained and needs a filler. It can be painted, but absorbs the paint slowly.
Birch. Frequently used for interior trim and furniture, this wood is hard and strong but does not stand outside exposure very well. Birch is easy to work and is close grained.
Walnut. Due to its high cost, walnut is used primarily for furniture and gun stocks. American walnut is easy to work and has an open grain.
Bed Cedar. This wood is used for wood shingles. It has a close grain and withstands exposure very well. It cannot be painted until well seasoned.
Ash. A tough, elastic, and very hard wood, ash is sometimes used for trim but is most often found in handles for tools. It is open grained, requires a filler, and takes paint well.
Redwood. This wood can be used for all types of building work. It is a light wood and easy to work. Closegrained, it takes paint readily and can be stained and polished.
Elm. Elm is tough, hard, and damp resistant, and is used mostly for heavy timbers and framework. It is difficult to work and has an open grain.
Maple. A very hard and strong wood used for flooring and for trim. It is difficult to nail. Maple is close grained and takes paint very well.
Mahogany. Used chiefly for furniture, this wood is very strong and easy to work. It has an open grain.
Poplar. Light in weight and fairly strong, poplar is used for interior trim. It can be stained and polished to resemble more expensive kinds of wood. Poplar does not stand exposure well but is easy to paint.
Wallboard. There is a tendency to lamp all kinds of composition boards under the general heading of "wallboard." This often leads to disappointment on the part of the user because some of these composition boards are not much more than heavy cardboard, while others are extremely tough and durable and can be used in place of wood sheathing for the exterior walls of a house. Siding is nailed over them.
Do not confuse wallboard with insulating board, because there is a wide difference between them. Insulating board can be used as a wallboard and will provide. insulation as well, but most types of wallboard have little or no insulating value. Most kinds of wallboard are fire resistant; they will burn but not rapidly. When a fireproof board is desired, it must be made of asbestos or some other substance which is absolutely resistant to fire.
When purchasing wallboard, find out whether it can be painted. Paint can be applied directly to the surface of some wallboard, but on others a size coat is necessary.
The wallboard used in bathrooms or kitchens should be tough and damp resistant. Most wallboard comes in sections four feet wide and eight to twelve feet in length.
Covering Joints. There are several methods used to cover the joints between sections of wallboard and other kinds of composition board, so that the surface can be papered or painted and the seams will not show. Of course, the sections of wallboard must be put-up correctly, and must not sag at the seams or in the middle. The studding and furring to which they are nailed must also be secure and solid.
The most effective method of covering the seams is with a special cement and strips of open-mesh canvas or wire netting. Place the sections of wallboard so that there is about a 1/8 inch gap between all seams. Size the edges of the wallboard and work the cement into the opening. Next, force the strip of canvas or netting into the cement as a reinforcement and smooth the edges to make the surface as even as possible. Only an open-mesh cloth or netting will provide sufficient strength to prevent the cement from cracking out.
In case the sections of wallboard have been put-up with no space left between them, it may be possible to cut out the required 1/8 inch and then size and cover with cement and mesh.
Another way to cover the seams is with strips of lath. These break up the wall surface into panels of the same size as the sections of wallboard.