Gado Gado International

Petrified Wood: Formation and Characteristics

Posted in Informational by gadogadointl on July 16, 2009
Polished cross section of petrified log

Polished cross section of petrified log (16″D x 4″H)

The formation of petrified wood begins when a live tree is quickly buried in an oxygen-free environment.  This can occur when a landslide buries some trees, and in some cases when volcanic ash from a fast-moving pyroclastic flow buries a forest.  Over time, hot mineral-rich water passing through the sediment  or volcanic ash replaces the tree’s carbon with silica, often in the form of quartz.  Silicon is chemically similar enough to carbon that it will take its place in the organic compounds without altering the overall cellular structure of the wood. The result is that the wood slowly becomes a rock that looks very much like the original log, right down to the microscopic level in many cases.

Additionally, certain elements such as iron, copper, cobalt and manganese that are leached out of the surrounding soil can seep into the wood during the petrification process and add striking colors from blue-green to red-brown.

Petrified log with red-orange highlights

Petrified log with red-orange highlights (20″D x 25″H, 485lbs)

Due to volcanic activity Indonesian petrified wood is formed much more quickly than it is in other areas of the globe.  Hot springs act to dissolve silica present in volcanic ash and then “cook” the buried logs, accelerating the process many fold.

Petrified wood collection in Java, Indonesia.

Petrified wood collection in Java, Indonesia.

to be continued…

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Caring for your teak furniture

Posted in Informational by gadogadointl on April 10, 2009

by David Sussman

All of Gado Gado’s teak furniture is made from recycled lumber or from sustainably farmed Grade A plantation teakwood. Teak furniture will withstand more abuse than many other types of wood because of its hard, forgiving nature. However, to keep your teak furniture looking good will require some attention and care.

Antique and Reproduction Furniture for Interior Use
Gado Gado sells antique furniture and reproduction furniture made from old plantation teak lumber salvaged from dismantled structures in Java, Indonesia. Each piece of furniture has been individually hand-finished using traditional methods. After sanding by hand, each piece receives 3 to 5 coats of shellac, which is made by mixing a natural material secreted by beetles in denatured alcohol. The solution is then applied so that the alcohol evaporates, producing a hard finish that brings out the rich natural color of the wood. Unless exposed to frequent direct UV sunlight or water, this finish will endure for many years. You may apply good quality furniture oil as needed to retain the luster of the wood and help prevent any water spots.

If your furniture’s finish has faded or has water or other stains, you may wish to refinish it. Start by sanding the surface lightly until smooth, and then apply good quality shellac with a paintbrush. When re-finishing with shellac, it is not necessary to sand down to the raw wood. Do not use lacquer or polyurethane over the existing shellac, unless the wood is sanded back to the raw wood. (Because of the oily nature of teak, permanent finishes like polyurethane will not last very long anyway.) For the best results, you may wish to thin commercial shellac with denatured alcohol, following the instructions for the product. Better results will be achieved if the work is done on a warm, dry day. Apply the shellac quickly and avoid over-brushing. Allow the finish to dry thoroughly before applying a second coat. To maintain the luster of the final finish, you may apply and buff a coat of natural beeswax on top of the final coat of shellac, or use good quality furniture oil over the shellac finish.

Teak serving tray, before and after an application of beeswax and orange oil

Teak serving tray, before and after an application of beeswax and orange oil

Garden & Outdoor Furniture
Garden furniture is generally made of new air- or kiln-dried teak, and is sold either fine sanded or coated with teak oil. Both are discussed below, as is an alternative method using a commercial teak-sealing product.

Fine Sanded
If you buy your furniture fine sanded it will have only the natural color of the wood coupled with the raw natural texture of the teak grain. The untreated timber is a lovely yellow-brown olive color when still fresh.

If your furniture is to be used indoors, and away from a lot of natural sunlight, over a period of time—perhaps six months to a year—the wood will gradually become a darker shade of brown.

If on the other hand the furniture is left outdoors, the effects of the sun’s rays and rain will ‘bleach out’ the wood’s natural color, gradually turning it a soft silvery gray. This silvery gray patina gives teak furniture a distinctive appearance, which many people consider to be very attractive, as it allows the furniture to blend in well with many outdoor environments. Teak furniture left in this state is easily maintained, and needs no treatment whatsoever to give many years of service.

Teak Oiled
If you buy your furniture already oiled with teak oil, it will have a darker brown color and a soft sheen. Teak wood is naturally oily and requires no treatment to be used indoors or outdoors, and the use of teak oil won’t increase the life of the wood. However, teak oil does change the color to a soft yellow-brown, and it can also help to prevent stains from seeping into the wood grain. It will also slow down the graying effect caused by ultraviolet rays.

To maintain its appearance, teak oiled furniture will need to be re-oiled periodically. If you decide to re-oil your furniture, select a good quality teak oil from your local supplier. A basic method for oiling is as follows:

The furniture should first be cleaned [see below]. Afterwards, ensure that the wood is completely dry before starting to oil. Lightly sand the wood until smooth before oiling. Tools needed include teak oil, a clean 1″ or 2″ paint brush, some clean cotton rags, good light and plenty of space to work in. The process can be a little messy so be sure to wear work clothes, and household gloves will keep the oil off your hands.

Apply the teak oil with a clean brush, starting from the top and working downwards. The surface should be left wet by the brush, but try to avoid leaving surplus oil on the wood. After a few minutes – between 5 and 15 depending on the ambient temperature and humidity, the oil will start to become ‘tacky’. At this point the surface of the furniture should be wiped down with a clean cotton rag, carefully removing all surplus oil.

One coat is usually sufficient, but you can apply a second coat if required, after a minimum of one hour for the first coat to dry. Once you’ve completed the oiling and the surface is dry to the touch, a second clean rag can be used to “buff up” the surface.

Please be sure to dispose of any used oily rags and cleaning cloths carefully (spontaneous combustion can occur), by placing them in water in a sealed metal container, or in accordance with the instructions from the oil manufacturer.

NOTE: Some companies that sell outdoor teak do not recommend using teak oil on outdoor furniture because it may cause mildew or irregular coloring of the wood. Gado Gado has not experienced this problem with our outdoor furniture.

Reclaimed teak plank, sanded halfway

Reclaimed teak plank, sanded halfway

Cleaning Teak Furniture
If you wish to remove the silver-gray appearance and dirt from your outdoor teak furniture, wash with warm soapy water using a normal medium household bristle brush [not too stiff] or a jet-wash. One company recommends using a cleaning solution consisting of four parts laundry detergent or dishwashing soap and one part bleach. Wash from the top downwards, and then rinse with clean water. There are also proprietary cleaners on the market that can be used to clean off various deposits and accumulated dirt and stains.

We do not recommend the use of steel wool or steel wire brushes to clean teak furniture, as any metal residue left in the wood grain may rust and discolor the wood.

If after washing your furniture still has some stubborn and heavily ingrained stains, these can be removed by sanding with a fine grade of sandpaper, being sure to work only with the direction of the timber grain. After sanding away the stains, if the furniture was previously teak oiled you may wish to re-oil, or if it had previously been left natural (unfinished), the fresh teak color exposed by sanding will soon mellow to a silver gray patina.

All About Teak

Posted in Informational by gadogadointl on March 27, 2009

by David Sussman

Teak is the common name for a tall timber tree of the verbena family. The tree, which attains a height of more than 30 m (about 100 ft), is native to India and Malay Archipelago, and is cultivated in Java and the Philippine Islands. Another variety of teak has also been cultivated in East and West Africa, Cuba and the Caribbean, and northern South America. Because of its durability and strength, teak wood is used throughout the world as lumber in shipbuilding. In the tropics, the wood is used primarily for the construction of furniture; teak furniture has been known to resist the attacks of insects and the corrosive effects of weather for hundreds of years.

Teak does not grow in tropical rain forests. It is a deciduous tree that grows particularly well in the dryer, hilly terrain typical of plantation forests in Southeast Asia. Java has very large teak plantations, which were first planted by the Dutch in the early 1800s and are now regulated by the Indonesian government. This means that any old or new teak furniture and architectural elements from Indonesia are made from plantation grown trees. So when you buy from Gado Gado you are not contributing to the destruction of the remaining old growth teak forests in other Asian countries.

Flowering Teak Trees

Flowering Teak Trees

Teak grows quite fast, and the trees are cut after 50 – 60 years when they attain a height of up to 150 feet and have a diameter of 3-5 feet. If well maintained, a tree can produce a clear stem up to 100 feet long, giving a high timber yield.

Characteristics of teakwood

Teak is a very dense coarse-grained hardwood. It is generally straight grained with few knots, but some trees have a wavy grain. The wood has a coarse and uneven texture. The wood contains a high level of silica, which causes rapid blunting of saws and other cutting edges. When freshly cut, the surface of the wood has a dull appearance, and the timber has a distinctive, pleasant aroma. Fresh-sawn teak has a slightly oily feel due to the high oil content.

Teak is a very durable wood. It is resistant to rot caused by fungal decay, and the high level of resinous oil present in the timber helps to act as a natural insect repellent, giving the timber very high resistance to attack by termites and other wood boring insects.

Plantation teak planks ready for use

Plantation teak planks ready for use

Teak is generally resistant to water and many chemical reagents, including acids. It does not have a strong reaction when it comes in contact with metals. For these reasons it is frequently used for boat decks, and in the past for aircraft carrier decks and work surfaces in chemical labs.

to be continued…