Good question Tony. The species of wood available to local areas played a large part in its use. Cherry has always been a favorite for furniture and such. But if one was in an area where cherry didn't grow, it was seldom seen in locally-made articles.Originally Posted by TPPhotog
Just as an extreme example, the area where I live now once had large stands of American Black Walnut. These stands, of course, were felled long ago. A friend was telling of a job his father got to tear down an old barn. The deal was his father and brothers would do the labor and salvage the wood as payment. This is a common practice. They started working the demolition and soon realized the entire barn was built from walnut; structural timbers, siding, roofing, everything. A virtual gold mine. The lumber provided many pieces of fine furniture for the family and paid off all the debt with several thousand in cash left over. No one these days would even contemplate building an entire barn with black walnut; but in the days when the trees were cleared for farming and there were many of them close by, it was logical.
An example of wood use that had international significance was the War of 1812. One of the primary reasons for the war was that England wanted to regain possession of the the Live Oak stands in the Carolinas. Live Oak was, at the time, the ultimate material for building warships. This is the wood "Old Ironsides" was built from. The Live Oak is so dense it could withstand and repel cannon bombardment, such as it was in that era.