WORDS ON WOOD

We buy our timber in the form of trees, whole trees that have been planked into various thicknesses. This allows us to carefully select and balance grain patterns when making your furniture. We painstakingly go so much further than randomly picking timber out of a vast pile with a ‘take it as it comes’ attitude. It is not enough that it is just wood., it must be sensitively selected and thoughtfully displayed for it to give of its best. Each tree will reveal its character, its past and its charms, each tree viewed tells that individual story. We also like to search out those maverick trees such as rippled ash, tiger oak, olive ash, pippy elm, quilted maple, lace wood; all these timbers have a more interesting tale to tell.

At the heart of what we do is wood. We aim to use it responsibly and we select it from managed sources, principally in the UK, with a little from Europe and the USA. With each tree we aim to expose its charms and memorialise it in pieces of worthwhile furniture.

A FEW MORE WORDS

At the 100% Design show in the mid-1990s there was a promotional evening around the theme of “recycled furniture”.  Legions of visitors breezed past our stand muttering darkly that our furniture wasn’t recycled as they dashed towards stalls showing converted ladders, orange boxes or washing machines masquerading as furniture.  Eventually I felt moved to respond to one unfortunate mutterer “but it is recycled; it is made from wood which is the ultimate recycled material, it’s just recycled sunshine and rain water, a gift of a material” and that is how I will always see timber.

A LOT MORE WOODS

There are precious few outlets for home grown timber and only a handful of sawmills left in our country that are still cutting local timbers.  We spend a lot of time seeking out these sawyers and searching for those British timbers that are grown and cropped in sustainably managed woodlands.  We are trying to find timbers that tell the story of our nation; oaks, ash, elm, beech, walnut, sweet chestnut, yew, sycamore, maple, with occasional rarity such as holly, lacewood, boxwood, apple, pear and cherry.

We principally look for three types of timber.  Firstly, timber for stock, mainly one inch (25mm) and three quarter inch (18mm) thicknesses of oak and ash.  We use these for carcase frames, back frames, drawer sides and bottoms, and we are looking for clean, straight grained and the more stable cuts.  The drawing in ‘woodcuts’ shows the basic cuts we use, and which planks we select for which purpose.

Secondly, we are looking for 2 inch (52mm) and 1 ½ inch (38mm) thicknesses of similar timbers which we use for larger frames and carcase work, chair legs, table rails and legs.

Thirdly, and perhaps most interestingly we search for the maverick individuals within the British species, those that show their peculiar and individual history, and have the scars to prove it.  What follows are a few examples of what we are searching for.

CUTS

Annular Rings
Sapwood
Sapwood
Medullary Ray

These are the growth rings laid down around very trunk, branch and twig of the tree. You can discern each year’s growth because of the sharp contrast between the large quick growth of the spring and the small slow growth of the late summer which result in the series of definable concentric rings.

The most recent growth and not fully lignified (rigidly woody) and offering a tempting entrée for woodworm, so best avoided. Also a paler colour and in some cases (yew, laburnum) a very different colour.

When looking at the end-grain they are seen as lines or flecks radiating away from the centre of the tree and are normally non-descript. When the timber is quarter sawn or rift cut, they are seen on the face quite dramatically in the case of English oak, spectacularly in the case of lace wood and discreetly with elm or beech.

The outer boards with swirls, classic woody look to them, almost like cartoon drawings of wood.

Usually straight grained with medullary ray figure very apparent in the grain. The most stable, in terms of movement, of the cuts.

This is a cut seldom used these days. It is by far the most stable cut, but as you can see it's very wasteful. We normally pick out the quarter sawn cut if we are seeking very stable material which we might use for drawer sides or components that fit and move between other pieces of timber.

Tending towards straight grained with little evidence of medullary ray flecks. Reasonably stable. It gives a clean unfussy look.

Crown Cut

Quarter sawn

Rift Cut

Flitch Cut

Crown Cut Quarter sawn Rift Cut Flitch Cut
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