Two prevalent types of wood that you may come across frequently are teak and sheesham. Although teak is a much-preferred type of wood, it is on the endangered species list, making sheesham a popular alternative. Both types of wood have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and you need to know more about the characteristics of these two types of wood to get the best out of them in your woodworking projects.
In this post, we compare teak Vs. sheesham and the way each type of wood benefits us. We also look at the drawbacks of each of them. Let’s jump right into the discussion, shall we?
Teak Vs. Sheesham
Teak is a hardwood species common to south and southeast Asia. It possesses a high level of natural oil that protects it from moisture and insect attack. Teak is prized for its color, fine grain, and easy workability. It has become a rarity in many countries today, making it an expensive option in wood if you can procure it at all.
Sheesham, on the other hand, grows more freely. In a few countries like Australia, for example, it is considered an invasive species. Also known as Indian rosewood, sheesham plays a prominent role in making furniture and cabinets. It is highly durable and has a long life.
Teak grows in the tropics, and its botanical name is Tectona grandis. This wood was first documented as having been used since the 7th century when the wealthy used it for building their homes. The inherent resistance of teak wood to rot made it a favored wood for building boats and ships.
In recent times, over-exploitation of this wood has put it on the endangered species list. However, governments of some countries took steps to regulate its cultivation and production. Therefore, it has become available in those countries. But due to the high demand for teak, it remains an exorbitantly-priced variety of wood. Woodworkers prize it due to its smooth, straight grain, attractive appearances, and easy workability.
This wood species comes primarily from the Indian subcontinent (Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives). It is also known as Indian rosewood, penny leaf tree, and Dalbergia sissoo. The specialty of this wood is that no two pieces look alike. Because sheesham is found in places of high temperature and humidity, they are less water-resistant.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Appearance
The heartwood of teak is golden to medium brown, which darkens with age. It has a straight grain, although there may be some waviness occasionally. The surface has a coarse, uneven texture with a slightly greasy feel due to natural oils. Sheesham, on the other hand, may be golden to reddish-brown and has a grain of dark streaks. The grains are interlocked, which gives the wood added durability.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Durability
We consider teak to be one of the hardest, most robust, and durable hardwood that you can get. Due to this wood’s high durability, it finds great use in making furniture both indoor and outdoor. Because of natural oils, it has water-resistant and insect resistant properties and plays a prominent role in building boats and ships.
Sheesham wood has a natural resistance to termites and doesn’t warp easily, making it suitable for making furniture and cabinets. It also resists decay and rot. But sheesham cannot withstand attack from woodboring beetles, so you need to treat it accordingly before using it.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Maintenance
Teak has a high level of natural oil, making it durable even when left as it is. It has a low shrinkage rate, which makes it less prone to warping and bending. Hence, you can use teak directly after storing it for a short period. After processing, once made into furniture and other wooden items, you need to clean teak regularly using a damp cloth. You can also add luster to the surface of the wood by using furniture wax.
Sheesham has a natural resistance to rot and termites but is susceptible to woodboring beetles. Thus, you need to treat the wood before processing it, and it is better to apply insecticide every once in a while, especially if the wood is to be used outdoors. You can also apply furniture wax to sheesham for maintaining a glossy surface.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Price
Teak is one of the costliest woods that you can find in the world. The price varies in line with the grade of teak. The main reason to prefer teak to sheesham is that it has resistance to pests how the latter wood does not. It makes teak far more expensive than sheesham. If the price is not a concern, you can opt for teak for the finest wood in the world, provided that it is available to you.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Sustainability
There have been many controversies surrounding teak across the world. As a result of the over-exploitation of this wood, it found itself on the list of endangered species. Teak harvesting and trading are illegal in most countries today. However, a few countries have stepped in to control the activities related to teak and make it a sustainable wood once more.
If you are interested in procuring sustainable wood with no strings attached, sheesham is a suitable choice. It grows readily in the wild and is even considered an invasive species in Australia. Hence, if you want to use robust wood that is also sustainable, you can choose sheesham.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Workability
Teak is an easy wood to work with. It takes nails and screws well, and you will not find too much difficulty in sanding, planing, or machining it. However, it is a bit heavy on tool blades due to its high silicon content, so you will find that you have to sharpen your tools more frequently with teak than with other types of wood. It also glues well, although you may have to occasionally wipe it with solvents to eliminate the excess natural oil.
Sheesham, on the other hand, does not present any issues with the blunting of tools. As it is relatively dry wood, you will also not have any problems with having to wipe off excess natural oil. Sheesham takes screws and nails and glues quite well. Like teak, sheesham also makes good wood carving material.
Teak Vs. Sheesham: Comparison Table
|Botanical Name||Tectona grandis||Dalbergia sissoo|
|Appearance||Golden to medium-brown||Golden to reddish-brown|
|Durability||High durability||Medium durability|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||1,155||1,600|
|Maintenance||Moderate maintenance||Moderate maintenance|
|Price||Highly expensive||Much cheaper than teak|
|Suitability for outdoors||Yes||Yes|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||Yes|
|Workability||Yes, but need to sharpen blades frequently||Yes|
|Smell||Leathery smell||Odorless wood|
Sheesham wood is a great wood to work with as it yields easily to tools and takes most types of finish quite well. Being reasonably-priced, it is a popular choice for woodworkers the world over. Teak, on the other hand, is considered the “King of Hardwoods” and remains a superior and high-quality option for most woodworkers.
Sustainable teak is not impossible but difficult to obtain. If you want to use the ultimate wood in a woodworking project, use teak if you must, but ensure that it comes from legal sources. You will end up with a tremendous looking woodworking project. But with either teak or sheesham, you can get satisfactory results.