Acacia Wood: Where it comes from and How to Buy and Maintain Furniture Made from It?

Whenever you’re out looking for furniture, you don’t want to just settle for any random piece of worked wood. A good piece of furniture is an investment and it has to be timeless, durable, and easy to maintain. To fulfil that criteria, you will most probably decide to go with a solid wood piece. However, the next step, which involves you researching the type of wood you want to use, is going to be extremely intimidating for the uninitiated. There are so many different types of wood that it’s incredibly difficult to decide the type of wood you want for yourself. At least not in a short period of time. However, this post is going to solve a lot of your problems. The Acacia tree yields some of the sturdiest, workable and long lasting wood in the market. It is a great choice for all kinds of furniture. And here’s how and why Acacia wood is great for your furniture needs.

Acacia wood: Its origins from the tree of a thousand names

A giraffe enjoying the shade of an Acacia tree in Africa

Acacia wood comes from the Acacia tree. Acacia is also known as mimosa, thorntree, and wattle. It is a hardwood tree family native to Australia. Over millennia, Acacia spread to now be found throughout the Old World including Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. European settlers brought the tree to the Americas, where a new species began to emerge. There are now almost 1,350 documented species of Acacia across the globe.
The species of Acacia which is widely used for furniture making is the Babul (Acacia Nilotica). Babul is a native to Africa, India, and the Middle East. It is a highly invasive species in Australia and India. If you take a drive on the highways of Gujarat, India, you can see Babul trees growing everywhere. The Babul tree is used for furniture making because of its hardness, density, and availability, detailed deeper into this article.

Babul tree (Acacia Nilotica)

Acacia Wood: Achieving worldwide popularity

A variety of 18th century writers praised Acacia for being a durable and valuable wood. It was used for a variety of products such as tree nails, ship posts, beams, cogs, and, of course, furniture. Ebeneezer Jessup, an English writer enthusiastically proposed the planting of 10,000 acres of the Acacia tree in order to provide an enduring source of Acacia wood for Her Majesty’s Royal Navy.

The Royal Navy responded positively. The Royal Navy valued Acacia wood for its durability and water-resistant properties. The Royal Navy used it as the primary building material for its legendary Ships-of-the-Line. The advanced Acacia wood hulls of these ships helped them dominate the seas, allowing Britain to establish firm control over its colonies. This cemented Britain’s place as the leading world power of the 18th century.

Acacia Wood: Uses

Acacia wood has been used by different cultures to produce a variety of products all over the world.
• In Hawaii, it’s fashioned into bowls, canoes, and even ukuleles, due to its natural resonance.
• In the Philippines, it’s used for boat-building, cabinet making, carvings, railroad ties, and furniture.
• Groups in Southeast Asia use various species include flooring, parquet, stair rails, veneers, and wardrobes.
• The fat thorns of certain Central American Acacia species are used to make jewellery, dolls, and other souvenirs.

Acacia Wood: Characteristics & Statistics

The following characteristics mainly address the Babul sub species of the Acacia tree.

Acacia Wood: Density and Hardness

The Janka Hardness rating for Babul Acacia is 2300 pounds of force. It is 55 percent harder than European White Oak, 23 percent harder than hickory, and 90 percent harder than carbonized bamboo. Its density rates is measured to be 62 pounds per cubic foot. This places Babul between oak (45 lbs/cubic foot) and marble (80lbs/cubic foot).

Acacia Wood: Characteristics

Babul, and Acacia as a whole, has a naturally fine texture (also considered a smooth finish). It’s highly scratch resistant in comparison to other hardwoods.
The grain can vary between straight and wavy patterns, and the colour can range from a light amber to a dark mahogany. Two slabs of acacia are rarely alike.

Four main reasons for the widespread use of Babul Acacia for making furniture are: it’s affordable, it’s easy to work with, it’s durable, and it’s sustainable.

Acacia Wood: Affordability

As previously stated, Babul grows plentifully in Asia, India, the Middle East, and is an invasive species in Australia. It is also plantation grown for its hardened tree sap, known as Gum Arabic. Gum Arabic is used for medicinal purposes, as an additive to soft drinks, and as the outer coating for “hard” candies such as M&Ms. This leads to furniture makers harvesting the wood at a lower cost, which results in furniture buyers getting better value for their money.

Acacia Wood: Workability

Prior to drying, Babul is easy to work with. After its dried up, Babul becomes very hard and durable. So it literally has the best of both worlds. This allows us to make beautiful acacia wood benches and buffets, dazzling acacia dining tables, and sophisticated side tables, all without sacrificing the high quality of our furniture. Acacia wood’s workability prior to drying allows wood workers and carpenters to craft beautiful faux live edge pieces
In addition, Babul Acacia’s height varies from 2.5 meters(8 feet) up to 25m(82 feet). This makes it perfect for long pieces like buffets, tables, and benches.

Acacia Wood: Durability

As its extensive usage by British Royal Navy has displayed, Acacia has proven itself to be an extremely durable type of wood. Its density and hardness makes it the perfect material for heavy-use pieces such as dining tables and dining benches. When properly maintained, these pieces can safely last for decades.

Acacia Wood: Sustainability

First and foremost, Babul trees are widely available (as stated above), however, responsible furniture making companies harvest it in a completely eco-friendly way. .
A lot of furniture making firms also work with local Gum Arabic farmers to harvest acacia wood after the trees have finished producing their sap for the farmers to harvest. Traditionally, the acacia wood after sap extraction was either burned down or thrown into a wood chipper for the next planting. This symbiotic relationship between the farmers and furniture making firms provides an extra source of income for the farmers, while giving the furniture makers a sustainable source of acacia wood.

Acacia Wood Furniture: Maintenance tips

A piece of furniture made out of Acacia wood is a living, breathing piece of wood. Proper maintenance is vital for a piece to last very long. Follow these tips to make your acacia wood furniture last for ages:
• Just like you, plants are made of cells that contain water. Too much and cells will swell, too little and they will shrink, causing cracking.
• Wipe the acacia wood furniture daily with a soft cloth (a slightly moistened cloth is advisable to ensure all dust stays on the cloth).
• Most acacia wood. furniture comes with a water based lacquer finish, so you don’t have to worry about water spillage.
• Don’t expose the acacia wood on your furniture to alcohol, deodorants, perfumes, nail varnishes and similar liquids. If spillage occurs, wipe immediately with a dry cloth. These liquids suck the moisture from the acacia wood when left on it for a long time, leading to cracking. Even gentler forms of alcohol such as red wine can cause stains on Acacia wood.
• Place your furniture carefully so that it’s not in contact with direct sunlight (this can cause fading and, in extreme cases, cracking).
• Placing acacia wood furniture next to fireplaces and radiators can cause wood warping, and it should be avoided at all costs.
• Use placemats and coasters when resting hot drinks or dishes on the furniture.
• Ensure that you occasionally rotate your acacia wood pieces to expose all angles to an equal amount of air and light to ensure even darkening over time.
• Periodically wipe your acacia wood furniture with a slightly damp or dry dust cloth.
• Don’t use rough-surfaced cleaning tools on your acacia wood furniture.. This will wear down the finish and increase the likelihood of scratching.
• Silicone based polishing or cleaning solvents should not be used on acacia wood. They can dry out natural wood over time.
• Do not use detergents or any cleaning products that contain ammonia. Ammonia sucks the moisture out of the acacia wood which leads to an eventual loss of shine and lustre over time.
• Due to Acacia wood’s natural scratch resistance, you don’t need to worry too much about scratches on your acacia wood furniture. If a scratch does appear, however, use touch-up marker to conceal the scratch. Ensure that you test the marker on an unseen part of the table, such as the underside, so that the covered up part matches the original shade of the furniture.

What kind of oil is best for Acacia wood?

For the Acacia wood, the type of finishing oil should be a drying one. What that means is that the oil reacts with moisture in the air to turn hard in the grain. That provides a degree of moisture resistance to the acacia wood. As far as natural options are concerned, Boiled linseed oil and tung oil are the only two natural drying oils. Most commercial use drying oils use one of the two as a base ingredient. Applying a pigmented finishing oil is a better option than a clear oil since pigments provide protection from UV rays. This enhanced level of protection prevents graying of the wood. It also ensures that the wood lasts longer and stays in a great condition.

Who has an Acacia wood wand in Harry Potter?

While no specific character has been mentioned as a regular user of a wand made of Acacia wood, as per the lore of the Harry Potter universe, Acacia wood is “a very unusual wand wood which creates tricky wands that often refuse to produce magic for any but their owner, and also withholds their best effects from all but those most gifted.”

Why was Acacia wood used in the Tabernacle?

Artist’s representation of the Tabernacle

The acacia wood used as the foundation of the Tabernacle symbolizes the humanity of Christ while the gold overlay of the boards and poles symbolizes Christ’s deity. Isaiah described Christ as “a root out of dry growth” similar to the acacia tree growing out of arid desert soil (Isaiah 53:2).

What wood was used to build the Ark of the Covenant?

The mythical Ark of the Covenant

Poles made of acacia wood and gold were used to carry the ark and two cherubim (angels) were to be sculpted out of gold and placed on the lid of the ark.

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