I was practically born into a lumber world. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but from the age of five, I hung out in my dad’s woodworking shop atop our two-car garage. Most of my father’s projects were fashioned from pine and the smell of the wood being worked with was heaven for me.
To this day, I love building with wood, especially when it comes to outdoor projects. I have a long- standing affinity for this material, but it was only recently that I took a more in-depth look at why it’s so appealing to me.
Natural wood is, well, “real”. As humans, we know the difference between a material that derives from nature and one
that does not. We tend to gravitate towards elements that were made from the earth, which is why, I suppose, many of us vacation at the beach or in national parks.
Wood is comforting, inviting, and warm and each piece of lumber is unique with its texture, grain and markings.
In fact, there is scientific evidence that reconnecting with nature, for example, through a walk in the woods, can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to suggest that surrounding ourselves with natural materials like wood can do the same thing.
On the practical side, there are also many reasons to choose wood. Natural wood is easy to work with. It can be cut, shaped and bored with inexpensive, readily available hand and power tools. It’s easy to measure, sand, and assemble. If need be, it can be easily repaired.
Not only can wood be used to fabricate countless designs such as outdoor furniture, decks, pergolas, arbors, fences and more, it can also be stained a wide range of colors that might be transparent, translucent or opaque. In other words, it’s an extremely versatile material. It’s also accessible and affordable.
Wood is exceptionally strong. It’s a natural polymer – parallel strands of cellulose fibers bound together with a lignin, a glue-like substance. I often think of it as nature’s version of carbon fiber. Yet, despite its impressive strength wood is relatively lightweight making it easier to handle.
To top if all off, wood is a fully renewable resource with more trees being planted than harvested every year.
So, okay, I’ll admit it, I have a kinship with wood. Whether that’s born out of those early days in my father’s shop or some fundamental bond to things organic, I’m not sure. What I do know though, is that my next outdoor project, and the one after that, will be made of real wood.
Ron Hazelton is on a mission: to provide people with the friendly advice and motivation they need to improve their homes and surroundings. A leading authority in the do-it-yourself home improvement field, Ron is the host of his own home improvement series, "Ron Hazelton's HouseCalls," now in its seventeenth season. Formerly, he was the Home Improvement Editor for ABC's "Good Morning America"