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vm] THE CARPENTER 105

in 1818, which states that pitch pine was preferred then to oak for
durability. Time has shown, however, that pitch pine is not
thoroughly suitable to structural work as it dries very much and
loses strength in so doing.

The conversion and preparation of timber into scantlings in
the ports before shipment has been the means of depriving us,
practically, of all large Baltic timber, such as the formerly well-
known and generally specified timber shipped from Memel, Danzic
or Riga, and where comparatively cheap timber of large scantling
is required, recourse has been had to the coniferous timber of
America, some of which can be obtained in very long lengths‘.

The wood imported from the Baltic is of younger growth, and the
desire to maintain the scantling of the timber, with smaller trees,
leads to the use of a greater inclusion of sap wood than in the
times when the trees were allowed to grow to a larger size.

It has been well said that ‘the growing difliculty of obtaining
satisfactory material for large panels has led to the use of thin
layers of wood, such as birch, consolidated under enormous pressure,
and described as 3, 4, or 5 “ply” board. The arrangement of the
grain in different directions in different layers adds to their strength
and diminishes their tendency to shrink and warp2.’ The craftsmen
of the Middle Ages knew this but the modern method of cutting
wood for ‘ply’ work in the roll was beyond the capacity of the
mediazval carpenter, who used flat boards.

As we have seen, the supply of English oak decreased with its
great use as ship timber for the British fleet during the Napoleonic
wars, and afterwards in the extension of the mercantile marine,
before the use of iron for ship building. But the demand for oak,
for many purposes, continued and the supply was met from the oak
forests of East Central Europe, of which the timber is inferior to
that of England. The demand has also been met, to a smaller
extent, from America.

The most important of the foreign woods in the past was
mahogany. Dr Whitaker, in the year 1818, considered that ‘the
introduction of mahogany about a century ago formed a new aera
in the history of internal decoration3.’ It then superseded oak as
the fashionable wood in work of a more expensive kind, but it

1 Herbert A. Satchell, Building Construction, 11, p. 217.
3 Ibid.
3 History of lV/zalley, p. 503.

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