When choosing a wood species for a project (say garden furniture), it is critical that you define the requirements.
Your requirements and constraints could be:
Environment (Outdoors, salt air etc.)
Good Natural color
Good Weathered Color
High Resistance to Decay
High Resistance to boring insects like carpenter ants and termites
High Resistance to checking and splitting
High Resistance to splintering
High Strength (requires less bulky sections)
If your requirements were as stated above then the choice of teak is very good as it offers low shrinking and swelling, good color with age, natural decay resistance, natural oils that repel water, and good strength. Honduran mahogany is also reasonable, as it provides most of the needed properties. However, Honduran Mahogany does shrink and swell with wetting and drying more than teak, so some checking and splitting can be expected.
Note: There are three wood
species (not related and with considerably different properties) that we call
mahogany--African, Honduran, and Philippine mahogany.
Of our native American
species, we don't have one that stands out as being fully acceptable. Most
softwoods are not suitable due to resin exudation or their low strength. Old
growth cypress is one possibility. Many hardwoods are prone to checking or are
very low in strength. Woods like black locust or Osage orange, which are good
candidates, are hard to find, machine with some difficulty, and have high enough
shrinkage to cause concern about splits. Walnut is a strong possibility, but
when wet it might leach a little, causing a person's white pants to become
discolored if they sat on wet furniture; same problem with Osage orange.
(American chestnut would be a good candidate too; lumber is still available.)
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