New Lumber Wonder

While teak, rosewood and mahogany take the cake in the price-race, they are not the most sought-after because of the forbidding prices. Builders and buyers are increasingly realising that the new teak happens to be rubber wood, writes Radha Prathi
Cries of inflation are renting the air. Though people are horrified at the thought of paying more for less goods, it is a well-known fact that rise in prices can certainly put a spoke in the wheel but cannot curtail its onward motion forever. The realty sector happens to be the most affected in this new economic trend. But then as they say, there is always a silver lining behind a dark cloud, so also there is a palpable solution to some problems of builders. For instance, it is a well-known fact that the most beautiful of homes with the greatest market value, is rated on the kind of woodwork that the homes house. While teak, rose wood and mahogany take the cake in the price – race, unfortunately they are not the most sought-after because of the forbidding prices. But this certainly does not mean that quality woodwork in homes has taken a back seat forever. Builders and buyers are increasingly realising that the new teak happens to be rubber wood. Yes — rubber wood — because case studies of builders who have been putting them into use constantly, are vouching for its cost-effective, environment-friendly nature, and most of all, its ability to lend itself marvellously to a whole range of designs and models.

Hevea Brasiliensis

For those of you who are new to the subject, it will help to know that rubber wood is a hardwood sourced from the maple family of woods. The wood is botanically known as Hevea Brasiliensis, as it is a native of Brazil. Of late, man has found the tree to be of use to him at the two-tier level. The trees secrete latex for the first quarter century of their lives and when they lose their yielding capacity, they are subjected to the axe to give way for young saplings to supplant them. The felled trees proved their worth by showing sterling qualities that fulfilled the tailor-made requisitions of carpenters, worldwide. Consistent research and constant use by previous users of the wood have proved that rubber wood has very little tendency to warp or crack. It has been found to be extremely durable and appears to be a ‘godsend lumber’ that can be put to use in manufacturing home and office furnishings.

The dense grain character of rubber wood is said to be easily controlled during the kiln drying process. It has also been noticed that rubber wood resists shrinkage, making life easier for professionals who work on wood and deal with the fickle weathering moods of wood traditionally used in the making of furniture. The fact that the tree is extensively grown for commercial purposes in Brazil, the tropical regions of Asia, Africa and America and India, is ample proof that the use of rubber wood is catching up like never before.

A brief look at the latest buildings around the world constructed for official and domestic purposes will show that rubber wood is the byword in the world of wood.

Rubber wood is not only instrumental in making complete wooden products but also doubles up as effective and aesthetic building material when used in panelling, moldings, beadings, skirting, edging, parquet and strip flooring. It will be interesting to note that the wood has faced no setback in finding its way into homes and kitchens, in particular, when they are manifested in the form of salad bowls, knife blocks, book shelves, ornament boxes, utility boxes, trays, magazine racks, etc, among other articles of utility.

Plywood made of rubber wood, is widely recommended by both sellers and users because rubber wood can be converted into uniformly thick, smooth and tight veneers, which is suitable for making commercial plywood. As far as India has been concerned, it has been declared as the third largest producer of rubber wood, but it will surprise you to know that we import a good amount of the wood to realise the needs of our country.

The Rubber Board based in Kottayam, Kerala, claims that “The development of the rubber wood processing industry in the country will help to generate employment, strengthen national economy, make rubber cultivation sustainable, and preserve the environment.” It is a well-known fact in the world of builders that there has been a major acceleration in the prices of rubber wood in the last couple of years, a thirty per cent increase from late 2006 that has leaped to another ten per cent in the last fortnight. Despite the hike in price, rubber wood is unanimously given the position of the number one user friendly wood.

When one takes stock of the situation, one realises that there is but one ‘magic potion’ that can solve several problems in one go — cultivating rubber wood. India is still in the stage of infancy cultivation of this commercial tree that started on a serious footing only during the eighties. We have miles to go — and achieve — bilaterally. There is an old Indian saying which when roughly translated, means, “An elephant when alive can fetch you a thousand gold coins and when it dies it still can fetch you the same amount.”

When one observes the rubber wood tree and its ability to be of utility to mankind, it will not be wrong to say that this saying can be extended to rubber wood tree because the tree is useful to mankind in more ways than one.

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