Virtually unknown a decade ago, rubberwood is quickly becoming one of the most popular woods used in toy and furniture manufacturing. Despite its “rubbery”-sounding name, rubberwood is actually a hard wood that is well-suited to many uses.
What Is Rubberwood?
Rubberwood is the name given to several species of Asian latex-producing, fast-growing trees. After the trees stop producing sap, they are processed into inexpensive, “eco-friendly” lumber, according to OakPlus Furniture.
Rubberwood is a moderately hard wood, with a density comparable with that of ash and maple. Its stability as a floorboard is rated average and is similar to that of red oak.
Rubberwood's low shrinkage also contributes to its strength. It stands up well to woodworking and machining techniques, including sawing, turning, boring, gluing and nailing. However, rubberwood boards have a tendency to splinter when nailed too close to the end.
Because rubberwood grows in damp, warm climates and has a high starch content, it is prone to mould. Rubberwood trees, therefore, must be cut into lumber immediately on felling. The wood should then be treated with strong fungicides and preservatives and dried in kilns before being brought to market. Improperly processed rubberwood is not as strong as commercial-grade lumber.
Suitability for Projects
Rubberwood is a stable timber for indoor furniture, notes The Garden Furniture Store. However, because of its aforementioned susceptibility to mould, rubberwood is not recommended for outdoor furniture. Rubberwood is generally sold in smaller-sized boards than other commercial hardwoods. Although it can be laminated or finger-jointed, it may not be strong enough for projects that require large boards.