Metal and Wood: Knowing Their Distinct Features

Metal is one of the most robust materials used for building houses and other significant structures. Besides metal, wood is another material that has a great reputation for strength and durability. Apart from being utilized for construction, it is also used for crafting a variety of accessories. There are times when wood is being compared to metal when it comes to durability. Many people believe that steel is the most durable material. However, metal is a completely different material than wood. It is essential to know how metal and wood are different to identify which of them is the most ideal when crafting a specific product.

What You Need to Know About Metals

Metal has an impressive reputation when it comes to strength and durability. It has different properties that make it unique from other materials. Below are the characteristic features that can be seen in metals:

Conductivity - Metals are ductile, meaning they can be used to create a wire, making them excellent conductors of heat and electricity. 

Lustre - One of the physical characteristics of the metal is lustre. As you can observe, this material is shiny when cut, polished, or scratched.

Malleability - Though metals are known to be a durable material, they are still malleable. It means they can be easily bent or shaped when exposed to a specific amount of heat.

Apart from knowing the properties of metal, it is also important to determine its different types. It is because each group of metal has specific uses. Listed below are the five groups of metals.

Poor Metals - This metal group is relatively soft and becomes useful when combined with other substances. It includes aluminum, antimony, bismuth, and tin.

Transition Metals - They are hard, shiny, and malleable. Transition metals are commonly used for industrial purposes. This group includes copper, chromium, gold, iron, and silver.

Alkaline Earth Metals - Compared to alkali metals, they have higher melting points since they are also harder. They can be found in compounds with a wide range of materials. Alkaline Earth Metals include barium, calcium, and magnesium.

Alkali Metals - Potassium and sodium are included in this group. They have low melting points and are very reactive.

Noble Metals - If you are searching for the best metal type to make accessories, then look for metals included in this group. Noble metals are unreactive because they are recognized as pure metals. They don't need to combine with other metals to create compounds. They are perfect for crafting coins and jewelry. Copper, gold, platinum, and silver are some of the noble metals.

Wood and Its Properties

Wood is a significant building material. Like metal, it is essential to identify wood properties to obtain its proper use. Below are interesting things about standard wood characteristics.

Colour and Odour - Colour and odour are the common characteristics of wood. Many woodworkers consider these when creating a particular product like wooden watches or sunglasses. For instance, softwoods like deodar and pine have light colours. You may see walnut wood with its typical dark brown colour.

Grain - When it comes to crafting accessories, many artisans consider wood because of its grain. This property is the arrangement of the wood elements. No wood grain is the same, so it is ideal for making unique products.

Moisture - All woods are porous materials. Most of the time, they gain moisture from the atmosphere and loses it depending on the moisture content of the wood cells. The moisture of the wood is a vital component to identify its strength. The material becomes significantly stronger when it dries.

Shrinkage and Swelling - When a block of wood is cut, it loses moisture, which results in shrinkage. On the other hand, when dry wood is soaked in water, it may undergo swelling. This property of wood should be taken into consideration, especially if you have wooden products at home. For instance, if you have a wooden watch or sunglass, it is essential to know how to take care of your wooden products. Remember that proper maintenance can make them last longer.

Which is More Durable?

Metals and woods have unique properties and characteristics that make them ideal for different products. Both are sturdy materials, but there is no confirmation on which one is stronger because they have various features. Metals are recognized as a robust material. For wood, there are some studies that show why it is as durable as steel. 

In an article published by Scientific American, it has mentioned that there is an inexpensive process that can make any wood into a substance that is stronger than steel. It can even beat some alloys and can also be used to make bullet-resistant armour plates. Liangbing Hu led his colleagues to densify wood without causing this material to weaken. Hu is a member of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute and was the leader of the team who did the research. They have performed a two-step process. Hu and his company started boiling the wood in a chemical treatment using sodium hydroxide and sodium sulphite. This process has removed the hemicellulose and lignin, which are natural polymers that stiffen the plant's cell walls. The second process includes compressing the wood until the cell walls collapse. After the whole process was conducted, their team has made the wood three times denser and made it more resistant. The study has proved that wood can be more durable when treated.

Another study sponsored by the Portland Cement Association which was led by Engineer Armin Mehrabi has proved the durability of wood. The experiment has concerned the stress and fatigue of a simulated earthquake. Mehrabi and his team have used wood and steel for the controlled variables. For woods, they have used a combination of pine and fir. The experiment has shown that wood surpassed steel, although it was proven that the latter material could withstand shocks better.

Both metal and wood are vital materials in many industries. Knowing their distinct properties can help business owners in creating quality products. Both are durable and can be used in their specific purposes.