Old Growth Wood
Often, people will say to me, "Jim, your furniture, it look pretty good, why it look so OK and above average and pleasing to my eyes?" They'll say it just like that. This, is the reason: old growth wood grown during the Little Ice Age, 1300 - 1850. During this cooling period, winters were a bit longer and summers a bit shorter than today. Like, the East River would freeze over on a regular basis, and it would snow in May. It was a thing. So, the tree on the left grew goddamn slow. It also grew in a thick, natural forest, where it had to fight for sunlight, water, and nutrients with plants and trees of other species. This made it super dense and strong and gave it the beautifuller, rich grain. The sound of a Stradivarius or the look of a Chippendale dresser or a Shaker table owes as much to the appearance of the wood that came from this growth pattern as it does to craftsmanship. The commercially available 2X4 on the right grew up in a corporate owned, species homogenous forest and had full access to unnatural amounts of sunlight, water and chemical fertilizers. So it grew fast. Like a goddamn hothouse tomato. Its available at Home Depot right now for $2.50 a foot. The wood on your left is probably in a dumpster on your block right now for free and will not be available in nature again until the End of Days. So, now you know.