Strong, dark red wood from Australia

There are many species in the Eucalyptus genus. Some are small and produce leaves for floral arrangements. Others (including jarrah, blue gum, karri and Tasmanian oak) produce excellent timber and lumber products. Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) is a dark red wood with outstanding strength and stiffness. This species is found along the coastal area of southwestern Australia, but is imported into the United States, primarily into West Coast ports.

The tree itself can be quite large - up to 150 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter - which means a lot of clear lumber. In fact, this species is one of the most important timber species in Australia. It has natural decay resistance and fire-resistant properties.

If you need a beautiful red hard floor or are making furniture for outdoor use, this is the premium species. Because of its natural color, the wood can be just waxed for a durable finish.

Processing suggestions and characteristics

Density. The specific gravity of green lumber is 0.68. The basic lumber weight, when dried to 6 percent MC, is 51 pounds per cubic foot, or more than 4 pounds per board foot. This is nearly 20 percent heavier than red oak, which weighs 43 pounds per cubic foot.

Drying. This wood dries slowly, often with considerable risk of warp. Generally, the wood is dried similarly to American oak. Supplies sent to North America would always be dried before being exported.

Gluing and machining. Unless tools are very sharp, this is a difficult species to machine, due to its high density. Interlocked grain also means that machining equipment must be in perfect operating order.

Gluing is moderately difficult, as with most dense species. Gluing soon after machining the mating surfaces is essential, as is common with dense woods to avoid moisture changes and nonflat surfaces.

Stability. Tangential shrinkage (the width in flatsawn lumber) is high, about 9 percent; radial, 6 percent.

Movement in service is moderately high, especially when compared to native U.S. species. A 1 percent size change tangentially can occur with 2.6 percent MC change; radially, with a 4 percent MC change. Correct final MC is essential to avoid in-use size changes.

Strength. Due to its high density, jarrah's strength and stiffness are exceptionally high. For dry wood, the ultimate strength (MOR) is 16,200 psi, stiffness (MOE) is 1.88 million psi and hardness is 1,910 pounds. Comparative oak values are 14,300 psi, 1.82 million psi and 1,290 pounds. The high hardness makes it a good choice for flooring, especially industrial flooring, and other high-impact, high-strength areas. High natural decay resistance makes this a good choice for boardwalks and exterior flooring, as well as outdoor furniture. Bending stock is another good application.

Nails and screws have excellent holding power, but predrilling of holes is necessary in most cases.

Color and grain. Heartwood is dark red brown, darkening somewhat with exposure. Gum pockets are occasionally found. The surface texture is somewhat coarse with many small open pores. Surfaces would not be considered exceptionally smooth. The grain is usually quite straight, although sometimes there may be some interlocked grain.

What Is It? What Is It Worth?

Our antiques specialist, Helaine Fendelman, evaluates your finds and collectibles.

I've collected tiny chairs, chests, and other pieces over the past 20 years. Some of them seem too fine for mere dollhouse decor. Did they serve another purpose? -- B.E., New York City



Good eye! Although your wire garden chair, Windsor chair, and bamboo armoire are toys -- the chairs made for dollhouses, the wardrobe to hold a doll's outfits -- your other treasures exhibit the larger scale and finer craftsmanship typical of salesmen's samples. From the mid-1700s to the late 1800s, these pieces functioned as advertisements for a cabinetmaker's skill, so they're as well made as full-size versions -- and worth almost as much. According to Ann Meehan, a Pennsylvania-based dealer specializing in miniature FURNITURE, your bureau, Napoleon III-style upholstered chair, and urn-back chair are from England or America and likely date to the 19th century. With its figured-mahogany veneer and dovetail-jointed drawers, the bureau's value lies between $350 and $400; the chairs, $200 to $300 apiece. Add in the toys (at $150 for the armoire, $25 each for the chairs), and your collection could fetch up to $1,200.

What it's worth: $1,200

When my aunt died, she left me this print, marked Drawn from nature by John J. Audubon and Published by the American Print Craft Guild, Bronxville, New York. What is its value? -- W.C., Brownsboro, Alabama


Artist and naturalist John James Audubon's greatest work, Birds of America -- a collection of 435 prints made from his original drawings -- was first released in Britain between 1827 and 1838. Those early prints can command thousands of dollars apiece, but many subsequent editions have also been produced. Your Snowy Heron is of more recent vintage, says Audubon specialist Leslie Kostrich. Part of an edition of 1,000 dating from the 1930s, it's a well-made image in a nice frame and might bring $200 to $250.

What it's worth: $200

We bought this cool old TV online about five years ago for $400. It works great -- in black-and-white, of course. Can you tell us if we invested our money wisely? -- W.G., Somers, New York


Manufactured by Philco -- a pioneering, though now defunct, radio and TV maker founded in 1906 -- the Predicta television debuted in 1958, when futuristic, space-age design was all the rage. Sadly, only the styling proved truly cutting-edge: The sound was tinny and the tubes often burned out, so the line was dropped in 1960. Today, though, these icons of early electronics are popular with collectors. Your particular Predicta, the more affordable Princess tabletop model, originally retailed for $280.Since it still works, it could now earn at least $600 at auction.

What it's worth: $600

I received this vintage bowl, marked Steuben, as a wedding present 17 years ago. How old is it? -- J.M., West Hartford, Connecticut

What it is: STEUBEN BOWL

Steuben Glass was founded in 1903 in Corning, New York, and bought by Corning Glassworks 15 years later. In 1932, Corning chemists developed an optic lead glass of intense clarity and brilliance, known as 10M, which was used for all subsequent Steuben wares. Your bowl -- model 7806, created by staff designer Walter Heintze -- dates to 1938 and bridges the transition from classic Art Deco style to softer, biomorphic shapes. Only 200 were made, in two sizes. Yours, the larger 12-inch bowl, sold for $15. Now, in good condition, it's worth 20 times that.

What it's worth: $300

My purse, made by Whiting & Davis, was a Christmas gift from my mother in the 1960s. Is it worth much? -- M.P., Sarasota, Florida


Founded in 1876 as a jeweler, Whiting & Davis began producing purses in 1892. After 1909, with the invention of the mesh-fabric machine, the Plainville, Massachusetts, company became America's leading manufacturer of metal mesh bags. Couture collectors seek out the elaborately patterned precious-metal examples W&D sold in the early years of the 20th century. Without a sterling silver hallmark, however, your clutch is almost certainly silvered nickel, though it may be older than you think: The clasp has an Art Deco look, and the scrolled frame is typical of the firm's style in the 1930s and '40s. At the moment, these purses don't command high prices, but the winds of fashion change all the time, so your chic little bag may bring a tidy sum one day.

What it's worth: $50

I bought this 1930s refrigerator for $65, complete with its metal ice trays and glass bottles. Even though it's not working, I'd like to restore and use it. Should I bother? -- P.W., Atlanta


You have a 1933 Frigidaire -- which originally sold for $96 -- with a body in great condition. Considering that John Jowers of, who restores old refrigerators, says he pays around $600 for similar defunct pieces, you got a deal. That's the good news. The bad news: Jowers sells the refurbished appliances for as much as $6,000 -- in other words, he explains, the cost of replacing insulation, reconditioning the condenser, and substituting modern coolant for Freon can run up to $2,000. Your refrigerator remains a bargain nonetheless.

What it's worth: $500

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