Materials and Components

Section A


Hardwoods come from deciduous trees, that are generally slow growing.

Beech: Straight-grained, light in colour, very hard but easy to work with, can be steam bent. Uses - Furniture, toys and tool handles.

Oak: Very strong, light-brown, open grained, very hard but quite easy to work with. Uses: High quality furniture, beams used in buildings, veneers.

Ash: Open grained wood, easy to work with, pale cream colour, can be laminated. Uses - Tool handles, sports equipment, furniture, ladders and veneers.

Mahogany: Reddish-brown colour, easy to work with. Uses - Indoor furniture, shop fittings, bars in pubs and veneers.

Teak: A very durable oily wood, golden brown colour, highly resistant to moisture. Uses - Outdoor furniture, boat building, laboratory furniture and equipment.

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Softwoods come from coniferous trees, that generally grow faster than hardwoods and are usually softer to work.

Scots pine: straight-grained but knotty, light in colour (cream/pale brown), fairly strong but easy to work with, and inexpensive.

Uses - DIY work, constructional work and simple joinery.


Parana pine: Hard and straight-grained, almost knot free, fairly strong and durable, expensive, pale yellow with red/brown streaks.

Uses - High quality pine furniture and fittings, e.g. doors and staircases.

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Man-made boards

Manfufactured boards are timber sheets made by gluing wood layers (veneers) or wood fibres together.

Medium density fibreboard (MDF): Smooth even surface, Easily machined and painted or stained, available in water and fire-resistant form, often veneered or painted to improve its appearance. Uses- furniture and interior panelling.

Hardboard: A cheap particle board, can have a laminated plastic surface. Uses- Furniture backs, door panels, covering curved surfaces.

Chipboard: Made from chips of wood glued together, usually veneered with hardwood or covered in a plastic laminate. Uses-  Kitchen and bedroom furniture, shelving and general DIY work.

Plywood: A very strong board, constructed of layers of veneer, which are glued with the grains at 90º to each other, interior and exterior grades available.  Uses- Furniture making, boat building and exterior,

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Laminates and Veneers

Laminates: A material that has been placed in layers with the same or other materials.                                                                                                                    Formica Surfaces: Made up of layers of paper in a melamine resin, the top layer ofthe paper gives the required decorative finish while a layer of hardwearing, heat-resistant polymer is the final layer. The base material for the whole worktop would be a particle board such as chipboard.

Laminate flooring: Made up of layers of printed materials in a resin on a supporting material, such as MDF. The final top layer of the flooring is avery hardwearing thermosetting polymer.

Veneers:  'Veneer' is the term given to a thin layer of wood that has been shaved off the trunk of a tree. Hardwoods are the usual materials to make them, because they tend to be more decorative and durable than softwoods. They are used in sheetform to provide a more decorative surface to inferior quality woods.Suitable veneers are: Beech, Oak, Ash, Walnut and Yew. Usually applied to MDF.

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Different types of metals

Ferrous Metals - mostly consist of iron, carbon and other elements. Most ferrous materials are prone to rusting and are magnetic.

Non ferrous metals - don't contain any iron at all, and therefore are not magnetic, and dont rust when exposed to moisture, but they do tarnish and oxidise.

Alloys -  are examples of combined materials. They are metals that contain two or elements which can be metal or non metals. They generally have low melting points, high corrosion resistance and are quite lightweight.

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Metal Properties

Elasticity - the ability to regain its original shape after it has been deformed Ductility - the ability to be stretched without breaking.

Malleability - the ability to be easily pressed, spread and hammered into shapes.

Hardness - resistance to scratching, cutting and wear.

Work hardness - a change in the hardness of a metal due to repeated hammering or strain.

Brittleness - breaking easily without bending.                                     

Toughness - resistance to breaking, bending or deforming.

Tensile strength - strength when stretched.                                                       Compressive strength -  strength when under compression.

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Ferrous Metals

Cast Iron -  Is re-melted pig iron with small quantities of other metal. 93% iron with 4% carbon and 3% other. Very strong in compression, but brittle. Uses - Metalwork vices, break discs and drums, car cylinder blocks, manhole and drain cover and machinery bases.

Mild steel - Iron mixed with 0.15-0.3% carbon, ductile and malleable, rusts quickly if exposed to moisture. Uses - Nuts, bolts, car bodies, furniture frames, gates, girders.

High carbon steel - up to 1.5% carbon content, strong and very hard.Uses - Chisels, screwdrivers, hammers, saws, garden tools, springs.

Stainless steel - An alloy of iron with 18% chromium and 8% nickel, very resistant to wear and corrosion, doesn't rust.Uses - Kitchen sinks, cutlery, dishes, teapots and surgical instruments.

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Non Ferrous Metals

Aluminium -  Light grey and lightweight, can be polished to a mirror-like appearance, anodised to protect the surface and give it colour. Uses - Cooking foil, saucepans, chocolate wrappers, window frames, toy cars and ladders.

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