Woods and their scents

3886bEvery timber has its own unique scent; the crisp freshness of pine to the acidic tang of green oak. Some timbers have smells very like every day scents. Over the 25 years we have had our workshops at Thakeham Furniture, we have had in various examples of timber on items of furniture spanning the 17th 18th and 19th centuries. Aromas we have come to know include the coconut scent of satinwood, the rich chocolate aroma of rosewood and the smell of pencils that comes from cedar.

When worked on, these aromas can be heightened; the smoke produced from burning can have some interesting uses. The powerful coconut smelling smoke produced from burning satinwood was said to be strong enough to sedate a person, or ‘kill a canary’…. although Industry historians say it’s doubtful satinwood’s sedative capabilities were widely known by early woodworkers.

Ceder drawer linings were often used to deter moths, which can cause real damage to clothing. The heavy scent of the cedar is thought to mask the smell of wool, which a moth seeks for a home to lay her eggs. Also known to deter moths was the powerful scent of camphor wood, which was often used in blanket chests and campaign trunks such as this 19th century chest (See image).

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