Monkey Pod & Thai Teak Wood Eco Furniture

 

These hand carved tables, platforms, and furniture --and really, we should be calling them works of art, they're so amazingly gorgeous!-- are something that the King Of Futons is very proud to offer to you. They add life and warmth and an amazing energy to any living space and practically any decor. They are about as eco-friendly and sustainable as you can get in the furniture industry. They are 100% all natural solid wood that is only harvested when new orders come in and are made from either true Thai Teak wood or wood from the Monkey Pod tree which grows and replenishes itself quickly. The leftover scraps are used by the people in the community to heat homes, the oils used to finish the products are natural, non-toxic, non-petroleum based, and biodegradable, and the workers are not in some dangerous factory but consist of agricultural families and villagers who have years and generations of experience.

They are made with a great deal of care, patience, skill, and Love. And that's what the King Of Futons is all about. It is our mission to work with companies like Strata Furniture who share the like minded philosophies of sustainability, low environmental impact, and fairness in trade and worker's living conditions. No, it is not a perfect world, but we're strategically working to make a difference, and you can help in the choices you make as a consumer.

You can read Strata's manufacturing partner's environmental statement here.

A little bit about true Thai Teak wood

Teak is one of the most valuable kinds of timber and long been one of Thailand’s most important exports. The teak wood industry is thriving and controlled by practicing sustainable forest management. The majority of teak products are made from farmed teak. Teak’s physical features are moderately hard and heavy, with moderate bending strength and excellent decay resistance. The color is lighter with variations of whitish wood to the “teak” or orange brown heart wood. With the application of a light coat of teak oil the wood is very beautiful in appearance and maintained properly will last for years. Teak has numerous uses including ship building (especially decks), indoor or outdoor furniture, high class joinery, flooring, paneling, plywood, decorative veneers, turnery, carving, chemical tanks and vats.

A little bit about Monkey Pod Wood

Wait, did you say monkey? What's this Monkey Pod business anyways?

Monkey Pod (Samanea saman) is easily recognized by its characteristic umbrella-shaped canopy . The tree usually reaches 50–80 ft in height with a canopy diameter wider than its height. It is common in the Pacific Rim region as a shade tree on small farms, along roads, in parks and pastures. The tree grows freely almost everywhere it has been introduced and is considered an invasive pest in Vanuatu and Fiji. In many other places it is a useful wood source.

        

In Thailand, Monkey Pod is mainly grown in the Northern provinces along the neighboring mountainous borders providing a bountiful source of larger wood for the carving industry. Harvested correctly the trunk is left in place and larger limbs are cut for use. Eventually the trunk is cut as it passes its best producing cycle. As this tree grows freely a new tree quickly starts growing. There are no lumber yards for this wood. We cut limbs and trees based on our production need. The wood must be rough cut and carved within several weeks. Otherwise the wood dries out, becomes stringy, and breaks up easily if carved too dry. The wood requires careful drying because of shrinkage and moderate to severe warp.

The journey from tree to table

Our carvings are made from the Monkey Pod tree. Branches from the tree are generally cut between one to two meters in length and delivered to the carving facility. Branches rejuvenate very fast. Occasionally a tree is cut and used for large one piece carvings. As the trees grow quickly a new tree soon takes its place. Monkey Pod has greater then 50% Moisture Content (MC) when first cut.

Once the larger pieces are brought to the carving facility, the wood is then rough cut by chain saw into the shape of the product that will be made from this batch of wood. Scrap is used for small carvings and heating homes in the cool season.

        

It takes skill and time to rough carve a shape like the Twist leaving enough material for the finish carvers to make consistent shapes. The carving is done while the wood is still wet. The picture above on the left is a roughed out Twist made by the chain saw operator. The wood is still very wet and will shrink and crack by a large percentage. The picture on the right shows a roughed out Cube body. The hardest part is carving out the inside. The wood is still wet and the blades of the chain saw can jam easily if care is not used during carving.

Finish carvers have generations of experience behind them and work by the "feel" of the wood. Carving is not a full time job and is generally a family affair involving cousins and close friends. Being an agricultural society, carving can slow down or stop during the rainy season for rice planting and again for harvesting.

        

A skilled carver knows what tool to select based on how the wood feels and what they see as they are working. Tools are generally hand made and every carver has their own set they have created for the work they perform.

After hand carving, the rough products are brought to a solar oven where over a period of months they are brought down to below 11% MC (moisture content) as measured with non-invasive and invasive Delmhorst wood lumber meters. At the end of the final drying stage we raise the temperature high enough (80°-90°C or 176°-194°F) to insure that there are no parasites in the wood. Drying can be difficult as most of our designs have varying wall thickness.

The product is sanded to smooth the rough carving into the desired shape. This is all done by hand so every piece is unique, sizes are not exact, and products are not perfectly square. The beauty of the completely unique piece can start to be seen at this time. Now that rough sanding has exposed all of the natural and drying cracks and wood inclusions, these areas are blended and smoothed. The product then goes through final Quality Controls, individually piece by piece, to discuss any corrections required with the finish sanders. Once approved oil is applied.

Applying the oil is a time consuming art. The oils are applied in three stages over the course of five to seven work days. No wood sealers or chemical bases are used, so there can be dull and rough spots. This is keeping with the manufacturer's policy of creating an all natural piece that can complete the product life cycle and be safely disposed of into the earth from which it came.

Earth & Living Creature Friendly Oils

After completion of the product, Livos Oil is applied by hand to seal and protect the woods surface. The oil contains natural resins that can be buffed to light gloss sheen. Livos is a safe natural oil and is a food safe surface. Livos offers a variety of all natural, non-toxic, biodegradable products. These products are petroleum and chemical free. Based on renewable raw plant materials that are organically sourced and never tested on animals, Livos products are environmentally responsible, non-polluting, ecologically friendly, and emit no harmful substances. An important component in most of the Livos products is linseed oil. Made from organically grown flaxseeds by farmers in northern Germany, it is cold pressed at the Livos factory for use as the main ingredient in oils and other products.

Livos products are not only human friendly they are fully biodegradable and not detrimental to our waterways as many of the synthetic water based products. Livos has a range of products that contain zero to extremely low amounts of solvents. It is not necessarily how much solvent that is the critical factor, however which type. Livos not only uses plant based solvents however also synthetic ones such as the Isoaliphates. These are also used in the pharmaceutical and food industries and are well established in Europe. 95% of these solvents decapitate in the first hour of application. Once dried, there is no further “off gassing” as occurs with many synthetic products. It positively influences the indoor air quality and does not contribute to harmful ozone depleting emissions.

There is no detrimental effect on ones health from the Livos products; from manufacturing, application, the occupier to disposal.

Natural Variations & Character

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO READ AND INVOLVES RETURN ISSUES AND WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT AND ACCEPT ABOUT THESE GORGEOUS NATURAL TABLES

As with all natural exotic wood products there will be some slight variation in color, texture, and finish color. This is mainly due to the underlying natural wood tones, which the translucent oil is applied over, creating a truly unique, one-of-a-kind, functional work of art. Products could have visible marks from tools used, patches from small repairs, knot holes, natural inclusions, and/or worm holes. There will be various separations or cracks on your piece when it arrives. These naturally occurred as the wood was dried and shrank. Over time, some continued shrinkage may accentuate existing separations or generate new ones. This does not compromise the structural performance or integrity of the wood and is considered inherent to the natural beauty of the design. These variations are not considered flaws and not acceptable reasons for returns.

All of our products are natural and handmade. Therefore sizes are just an approximation but are generally within plus or minus 1/4". We cannot guarantee the products are perfectly square or flat. We do create useable and reasonably flat surfaces while highlighting the natural wood inclusions and hand carved surfaces. We do not fill in or repair carving marks, or natural inclusions like knots and branch growths. Instead we sand to blend them in and assure smooth edges and surfaces that are useable. On some products we will use the same wood to fill in old worm holes and such.

         

The wood is from a tropical climate, and like all wood, is still "alive". It will change some over time based on your climate, and whether you place the piece in direct sunlight, or by a heating or cooling source, like in front of an air vent. Small cracks may appear but this is normal and will stop occurring over time. Of course, if a major crack develops that threatens the structural integrity of the product, we will allow an exchange.

For Monkey Pod wood (Samanea saman aka Acacia, Rain Tree, and other names depending on the country of origin) the heart wood color ranges from light reddish beiges to dark reddish browns (some with black swirls). Due to humidity, the wood ages in front of your eyes as small cracks may appear in the grain over time depending on the climate where you live. It's a small slice of life transported straight into your home. direct sunlight can cause more checking (cracking) on the ends, but simply rub in a natural neutral color wood oil to seal again and enjoy the beauty of Monkey Pod wood!

The color, after finish is applied, will vary from the pictures depicted for every single piece. This is because the oil is the same tone but the color of the underlying wood of the piece it is going on varies. Monkey Pod Wood (Acacia, Rain Tree), like all woods, has varying tones of browns in the reddish to black ranges depending on its age. The new growth or "white wood" ages from white to yellowish changing to light yellowish browns over time. Therefore we will not accept a return due to color discrepancies from the product pictures depicted.

         

Look, we know that most other stores wouldn't dare be so upfront with you, but at the King Of Futons we truly believe that an informed consumer is our greatest partner. You deserve to have the respect given to you to be treated fairly and with openness. We want you to know what to expect so that you don't act surprised or feel anything but satisfaction with your purchase.

 

Pictures and major portions of text from Strata Furniture; used by permission; all sourced pictures & materials © Strata Furniture