Family: Lamiaceae, the mint family.
Origin: It is native to India, Burma, the Malaysian Peninsula, Thailand, Indonesia and Java. It has since been extensively in plantations within its natural range as well as areas of Africa and Latin America.
Other common names: Burma teak, Rangoon teak, Moulmein teak, India teak, kyun, teck and teca.
The tree: Teak trees are very variable in size depending on the locality, soil and climate conditions. In general it is a large tree growing to a height of 130 to 150 ft. with a trunk diameter of 4 to 8 ft. and a the clean bole can vary from 20 ft. to as long as 80 to 90 ft. Older trees are fluted and buttressed.
Appearance: The heartwood is dark golden-yellow turning dark brown to almost black upon exposure. An irregular figuring of contrasting darker and lighter streaks or marks are quite common. The narrow sapwood is pale yellow or white and sharply demarcated. The grain is straight or sometimes wavy or mottled, the texture is coarse and uneven and a dull luster. It has an oily surface that gives it a sticky feel.
Density: Teak has excellent strength properties. Average reported specific gravity is 0.55(ovendry weight/green volume), equal to an air-dried weight of 42 pcf. Janka hardness is 1070 pounds of force.
Drying & shrinkage: It season well but rather slowly with very little or no shrinkage. Movement in service is rated as very small. Average reported shrinkage values (green to ovendry) are 2.5% radial, 5.8% tangential and 7.0% volumetric.
Working properties: Teak is easily worked with both hand and machine tools although, due to its density it is rather hard on tools. It dresses to a very smooth finish if tools are kept sharp and the worked edges of the wood remain sharp. It varnishes and polishes well and takes nails and screws effectively. It glues moderately well despite its oily nature. Possible adverse reactions from the dust include dermatitis, conjunctivitis, irritation to nose and throat, swelling of the scrotum, nausea and oversensitivity to light.
Durability: It is a highly durable wood and is very resistant to attack by decay fungi and termites, but it has little resistance to marine borers. The heartwood is highly resistant to preservative treatment and the sapwood is moderately so.
Uses: Teak is one of the outstanding timbers of the world due to its properties of strength, durability, weight, workability and good appearance. It is most useful in ship building for decking surfaces. Other uses include fine veneer, plywood and paneling, carving and turnery, cabinetwork and acid tanks and vats.
Availability: Teak is available in lumber or veneer form but is higher in price than most imported timbers on the commercial market.