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Wood is produced by designating trees to be chopped down. Any dwarf with the wood cutting labor enabled and access to a battle axe will cut down the trees, which will turn one tree into one log, the raw form of wood.
Only nether-cap wood is magma-safe, thanks to its fixed temperature.
"Timber" is the name of the ninth month of the dwarven calendar, covering late Autumn.
Trees start their lives as saplings. Saplings cannot be cut down until they mature into full-grown trees, which can take several years. Frequent unit movement over a square with a sapling will likely kill the sapling, leaving you with a dead sapling occupying the square for a time.
Saplings will randomly appear in appropriate above-ground soil to provide a slow (but steady) supply of wood. Saplings will begin to appear in below-ground soil and muddy underground rock only once you have hit the caverns.
Full grown trees will impede units' movement and can block the path of wagons, making your trade depot inaccessible. Be sure to clear trees out of active corridors.
Besides cutting down trees, wood (and some wooden goods, such as barrels) is often available from the elven, dwarven and human caravans. Wood can also be purchased before embarking. Wood is quite inexpensive, costing only 3☼ per log, and you may wish to bring a large number of logs when embarking in order to jump-start your wood industry. The wagon you start the game with can also be dismantled for three logs.
Reasons you need wood
- To build beds. Without beds your dwarves will get unhappy thoughts from sleeping on the ground.
- To build water wheels, windmills, and axles--without wood, you cannot generate or transfer power.
- To build siege engines and ballista bolts. These can be very effective defenses when traps fail.
- To be burnt for ash, which is used in glass making, soap making, glazing, and for fertilizing crops.
- If you want obsidian short swords, they require one log of wood in production, presumably for the handle. Note that these are primarily a novelty; all metal weapons are superior.
- Wooden training weapons can be used for military training started shortly after embark should you feel the need. They are also useful for live training and danger rooms.
Reasons you want wood
- It only takes one log to produce a bin, cage, wheelbarrow or minecart; but if you forge them instead then they'll take two or three metal bars. Wooden tools are also much lighter than the metal alternatives (apart from adamantine), which is a large benefit when the items are moved by hand.
- All metalworks (smelters, forges), glassworks and ceramic kilns are either coal-fueled or magma-fueled. If you are planning on having any sort of serious metal or glass production, then you're going to need either a lot of wood, or magma (and charcoal or coal for steel).
- Crossbows can be made from wood (or bone) and may be preferred if you have a skilled bowyer but not a skilled weaponsmith. They will suffer reduced damage if used to bash enemies in melee combat. However, since even metal crossbows are spectacularly bad melee weapons, this is a fairly unimportant consideration.
- A stack of 25 Crossbow bolts can be made from a single log. Wooden ammunition is sufficient for training and use by hunters, though significantly less effective against armored opponents.
- Shields can be made from wood, and currently material does not affect a shield's ability to block, so shields can be made without consuming precious fuel and metal. The low weight can improve the movement speed of soldiers, but the occasional shield bashes in combat will also be weaker than those delivered by metal shields.
- Wooden floors can be useful to reduce falling damage, the lighter the better.
Reasons you don't need much wood
- While beds, axles, windmills, water wheels, siege engine parts, and ballista bolts absolutely require wood, and soap, clear and crystal glass and fertiliser are based on wood ash, almost every other wood product has non-wood alternatives.
- Once you have magma then you don't need wood for fuel. If you have coal, you can get by with much lower wood usage until the deposits run out. If you have both, you shouldn't need wood to produce metal or steel products.
The 'unit' of raw wood, the log, has a "material size" of 50 litres, the weight can be derived by dividing the density of the material by 20. An oak log will thus weigh 35Γ, a featherwood one 5Γ and a bloodthorn log 62.5Γ. the densities for each individual type of wood is listed under the appropriate tree. Wood has a default [SOLID_DENSITY] of 500, making it about five times lighter than most stone and fifteen times lighter than iron. Feather tree wood is the lightest, with a density of 100, and blood thorn wood is the heaviest, with a density of 1250. Candlenut (140), and glumprong (1200) are also notable. However, since average wood is relatively light to begin with, with the possible exception of wood hauling, this makes (almost?) no practical difference in the daily routine of a fortress or your dwarves.
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