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What is beech wood? Mr Beam explains

Beech wood is a versatile raw material with special advantages. Whether veneer, furniture, parquet, stairs or toys - a wonderful grain and robust hardness make beech wood one of the most popular materials in the wood industry. We are talking about the red beech. The wood of the less common hornbeam, also known as white beech, has completely different properties. Because of its special hardness, it is used almost exclusively for the manufacture of tools and chopping blocks, and less frequently in piano making.

The beech: botanical classification

Beech wood leaves

Botanical classification at a glance

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants

Department: Tracheophyta - Vascular plants

Subdivision: Spermatophytina - seed plants

Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledonous plants

Order: Fagales - Beech-like

Family: Fagaceae - Beech family

Genus: Fagus - Beech

Species: Fagus sylvatica - Common Beech

Physical and mechanical properties

Beech wood is considered a hard wood. It has a high bending strength and is resistant to pressure and abrasion. This makes it ideal for applications that require high strength and robustness. Its density varies depending on the growing conditions and the age of the tree. In general, you can expect a medium to high density, which means that the wood is relatively heavy. The average density of dry beech wood is between 670 and 720 kilograms per cubic meter. Fresh beech wood has a pale yellow color. Over time, it darkens to the characteristic warm, reddish-brown tone. The color varies depending on the age of the wood and the growing conditions. Beech wood has a fine to medium texture with an even, straight grain. It has particularly fine pores, clear, sometimes wavy annual rings and irregular, broad wood rays. One of the visual advantages of this type of wood is its smooth, silky-shiny surface.

Beech wood compared to other types of wood

Compared to other types of wood, the many advantages of beech are evident. The wood of conifers, spruce and pine, is softer and therefore less durable than that of beech. It is easier to saw, plane, carve and shape, but is more susceptible to deformation, cracking and insect infestation - typical of softwood. Beech wood is more dimensionally stable and more resistant to external influences.

Compared to oak, beech has the edge in terms of elegant, fine grain and coloring. However, oak is well protected against moisture and rot and, unlike beech, can also be used outdoors. - the perfect wood for outdoors. Maple wood is as hard as beech. However, its tendency to splinter makes it more complicated to work with. Beech is less complicated in this respect due to its even structure and fine texture.

Compared to the precious woods mahogany and teak, the colouring and grain of beech have nothing to hide. However, the inexpensive wood of beech scores with a great price-performance ratio.

Applications of beech wood

Beech wood

Because of its aesthetic appearance, hardness, strength and even texture, beech wood is a popular material for making furniture. Tables, chairs, beds, cupboards and other pieces of furniture decorate both private living spaces and commercial areas. The hardness and durability of the wood make beech the ideal material for parquet floors. Beech parquet gives rooms a warm and cosy atmosphere. It is easy to clean and relatively undemanding in terms of maintenance. Beech is often used for building stairs. Beech stairs are robust, durable and aesthetically pleasing. They can be found in homes as well as in offices or public buildings. Because of its durability and natural aesthetics, beech is a popular material for making toys. Building blocks, cars, puzzles and doll furniture made of beech wood are particularly popular. You will also come across beech wood again and again in various kitchen utensils, decorative items, tool handles, boxes and even costume jewellery.

A type of wood as a trendsetter

There are many famous designs and products made from beech wood that have had a significant impact on the world of design. The iconic Wishbone Chair by Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner is very popular due to its organic shape and characteristic beech wood frame. The Austrian Michael Thonet revolutionized the furniture industry in the 19th century with his bentwood techniques. The famous Thonet chairs, such as the coffee house chair, were made from beech and are known for their elegance and durability. IKEA also often uses beech for its furniture. The companies Haba and Grimms make high-quality wooden toys from beech.

Individual design with the Mr Beam laser cutter

Flower press made of beech wood

You love giving your home a personal touch. Then the Mr Beam laser cutter is just the thing for you. Whether it's furniture, parquet floorboards or toys for the little ones - you can cut and engrave beech wood with our laser cutter. You can let your creativity run wild when working with beech wood and make breathtaking wooden decorations. Of course, you can also work with other materials with the Mr Beam. Discover the different laser applications now.

Processing beech wood with a laser cutter

Advantages and disadvantages of beech wood

When it comes to the advantages of beech, the most important are its hardness and strength, as well as its even texture and aesthetically pleasing grain. Although beech wood is hard, it is comparatively easy to work, saw, plane, engrave and carve. This makes the material attractive to craftsmen and manufacturers.

Beech wood is also widely available and inexpensive in many parts of the world, making it an affordable option for a variety of applications. Where there is light, there is also shadow. Beech is less resistant to moisture and can easily warp or become damaged in certain conditions, so it is not recommended for outdoor use. Beech wood may have small knots or imperfections that affect the aesthetic value of some pieces. However, this can also be seen as part of the natural charm of beech wood.

Care and maintenance of beech wood furniture

The most important way to care for wood is to remove dust with a soft, dry cloth. If you need to remove stubborn dirt with a damp cloth, it is advisable to dry the wood thoroughly afterwards. The same applies to spilled liquids. Curtains or blinds protect against long-term direct sunlight, which can lead to discolouration of the wood surface. Beechwood furniture benefits from regular treatment with furniture polish or pine oil from our Mr Beam wood care set.

Sustainability and environmental aspects

Beech trees from sustainably managed forests have a short growth period and can be replanted quickly, which contributes to the sustainable use of the resource. As they grow, they absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere, storing it in the wood and thus helping to reduce greenhouse gas levels. Beech wood is completely biodegradable. In addition to being used as solid wood, waste and sawdust can also be used to produce wood-based materials or as fuels, which maximizes resource use.

Conclusion on beech wood

Beechwood is a versatile and sustainable wood species suitable for a wide range of applications. With its hardness, strength and attractive grain, it is ideal for furniture, flooring, toys, kitchen utensils and more. Its sensitivity to moisture makes the wood suitable for indoor use only.

Beech wood can be processed easily and in many different ways. The sustainable management of beech forests contributes to environmental protection.

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