Before I started working for English Woodlands Timber I was told that I would be making my own desk. Having just coming out of college with 3 years of furniture making under my belt I was more than excited. I wanted to have a modern and simple desk which had the timber as the highlight of the desk.
The fruit of the Walnut tree is deemed a ‘super food’. Full of antioxidants, it is of great nutritional benefit to us humans, so it stands to reason that the wood of the Walnut tree is a ‘super wood’… full of incredible qualities and of huge nutritional benefit to us humans… well Ok, maybe not nutritional… but undoubtedly of benefit.
We’ve not met anyone yet that didn’t appreciate Walnut.
It’s one of those timber species that people have at the top of their Christmas lists when they’re thinking of making something special. It carries a lot of weight in a design for furniture or interior joinery aesthetically but it also gets the job done in terms of service and function.
Here’s the low down on it’s particular Walnut-ty qualities…
What’s in a name?
Well, Walnut timber comes from one of two variations of the Juglandaceae tree family. Our English and European stock is from the same Juglans regia tree and our Black Walnut is Juglans nigra tree. It’s also known as N.Am Walnut because that’s where a lot of this tree species is grown, but it’s also grown across Europe so if you’re interested in the provenance of your timber it’s worth checking origins.
Bear with us, because when it comes to descriptions on this particular species of timber can be a little schizophrenic as there two different trees involved!
So, Eng/Eu Walnut has a very varied grain pattern, it can be really swirly and wild (think gnarly growing trees) with sound knots incorporated into the flow of grain. It’s colouring is softer brown with contrasting cream sap. It’s sometimes a bit mousey until finished, but the more exciting boards are mixed with red-dy orange and give a bit of a vivid highlight to the grain. Sometimes the European is steamed to try to even out (flatten) the colouring which can be useful (?) but mainly just flattens the colour…we don’t want that do we?
Black Walnut has a purple-y chocolate brown colouring, usually with a strong grain pattern but mostly quite straight. It’s harder to find wild patterns here because the trees just grown bigger and straighter (darn those straight growing trees!). But ‘bigger’ can be a good sign.. we’ve had some Juglans Regia recently that makes 800mm wide… that’s a tabletop right there! And of course the lengths are larger for this species too.
Timber of either tree works well with machine or hand tools but of course the grain pattern is going to play a part. That wild swirlyness needs more attention as the grain will be going in all directions. It’s hard and strong (if it were bigger and less swirly we’d all be using it for structural work!) and good for turning and carving. It is difficult to treat (acid content & density) being fairly dense and also moderately durable timber. It has medium moisture movement (beware trapped moisture in dense uneven grained timbers). The right glues and polishes work successfully.
Waney edge boards go from 20mm to 80mm in Thickness, currently up to 940mm in Width and up to 4.3m in Length which is pretty gargantuan for Walnut!
Walnut timber is a specialist hardwood that is mainly used for furniture and interior joinery, although having said that it is durable and could be used externally too. So if you feel like creating something special we dare you to use it for external timber cladding.. we think that’d be amazing!
Our stock is mixed, we keep Kiln Dried waney edge and square edge although we’re stocking more waney edge than ever to serve our furniture makers better. We find waney edge gives more value for money aswell as more creative choice and opportunity to differentiate for our customers. There is always a chance we have someboules air drying too, so if you need a higher moisture content or you want to buy complete boules for stock these might suit you.
It’s True! The fruit of the Walnut tree is deemed a ‘super food’.
The Walnut, full of antioxidants, it is of great nutritional benefit to us humans. So it stands to reason that the wood of the tree is a ‘super wood’, full of incredible qualities and of huge nutritional benefit to us humans… well Ok, maybe not nutritional, but undoubtedly of benefit.
Prices for air & kiln dried boards, waney edge &square edge, in Ash, Beech, Cherry, Chestnut, Cedar of Lebanon, Elm, Maple, Sycamore, Walnut, Southern Yellow Pine, Sapele, Wenge, Tulipwood, Western Red Cedar,
…not an instrument of torture but a playground for woodfans.
The Cocking Sawmills Timber Rack has been around forever (or at least 4 years!). Recently it’s taken on a life of it’s own, a sort of woodyard within a woodyard. In response to crowds of woodfans vying for elbow room in the overly stocked, single bay of racking… we’ve had a makeover. And not just any makeover. A proper makeover, with real thought and planning and everything!
This week Tom took a trip up to Helmdon Sawmill to select our next batch of English logs for milling.
As usual he’s keeping us well stocked with large dimension Cedar of Lebanon logs to make boules of 20mm and 27mm waney edge for furniture making and interior cladding. There are no Tineola bisselliella on us…!
Next on the list is the sought after yet hard to come by English Walnut he’s been keeping for best.
He’s decided it’s time to commit so he’s putting it on the bandsaw but Tom says we’ll have to wait until we’re sticking it to find out what thickness it is. We all piped up with different suggestions based on wants and needs for different customers – not very helpful – but as Tom only has the two logs to mill this time we’re going to have see who gets their way… but perhaps it’ll be mixed thickness?! That would be clever…
After Walnut we get a nice big parcel of Pippy Oak from the Scottish borders. It grows beautifully up there in the cooler climes. Big straight logs with lots of good looking external burring indicating we could be in for some nice medium and perhaps a bit of heavy pip.
Tom will be watching this parcel closely… he loves to predict his pippy log outcomes. We’d all be happy if some of those logs we’re over 3m, nice, long pippy oak for kitchen joinery and table making to add to the mix for some furniture makers we know…
The art of buying logs to yield particular grain patterns and figure is a practice exercised through accumulated experience of sawing and observation over generations. Knowledge has been acquired that enables current round timber buyers to predict likely outcomes. (more…)
Wooden & Woven is incredibly finely made wooden homeware.
And art pieces. And furniture. And especially beautifully turned wooden vessels, sometimes with delicately edged with bark, sometimes with burnished and blackened, satiny grain. You really need to see them… look!
We met Alex as he was working on a very special table project using book matched black Walnut natural edged boards (you know… through & through sawn).
Intrigued to say the least and thrilled about the book matched project (we love hunting down these special sister boards) we nagged Alex until he shared some of his images of this particular piece of work. It’s always great to see the evolution of raw to made. We’re sharing the pictures with you below so you can marvel at his work too.
Want to see more? Here’s his website for you to browse to your hearts content.
The UK imports over 90% of its hardwood and yet we leave huge amounts of the same material in our unmanaged woods.
The woodstock project is looking at the options to improve and streamline the complex supply chain that has been identified as one of the key barriers to using more homegrown hardwood, and in turn improve UK woodlands.
A Grown in Britain consortium, led by English Woodlands Timber, has been awarded funding by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to explore how hardwood supply chains in the UK could be improved.
Dougal Driver, Grown in Britain Chief Executive comments: “There are close to 100 million tonnes of timber in unmanaged woodlands and significant unused processing capacity throughout the UK, which the project will begin the process of unlocking. With the UK relying on high levels of imported timber this Grown in Britain project is vital to breaking down barriers within the supply chain for home-grown hardwood, making it much more accessible and readily available.”
Specifically aimed at construction supply chains, project partners include the BRE, the Forestry Commission, forest and wood charity the Sylva Foundation, building contractor Willmott Dixon, and other representatives of the timber and merchant sectors. Consultants Sustainable Construction Solutions and Resource Efficiency Services are special advisors on the project. The project started on the 1st October 2015, and will run for 12 months. The findings from work stream 1 are outlined below, and the full report is available at: www.growninbritain.org
“MAKING THE GRADE”
INDUSTRY SURVEY RESULTS
As part of the initial market research, we asked processors, suppliers and consumers for their help in identifying the hardwood timber they use, how it is specified, and supply issues arising with home grown sources.
We found some interesting key points, many of which backed up the research team’s initial thoughts, including that a key reason why customers did not specify British timber was the lack of information on timber availability (quantity and species). Going forward this will be a major focus of the Grown in Britain WoodStock project.
However the research also showed that another barrier was that no appearance grading standard had been adopted for British timber, which means there is no way to maintain a consistent appearance grade across all suppliers. One of our partners, the Forestry Commission, has previously recognised this, and produced a guide called ‘Making the Grade’ which is available online at: scotland.forestry.gov.uk/supporting/forest-industries/hardwoods
Charlie Law, Managing Director of research consultancy Sustainable Construction Solutions, said: “We always suspected that lack of information was a key reason why British timber was not specified; but to find out that there was no consistent appearance grading system in place surprised us! However we were pleased to see that this had been recognised and that the Forestry Commission had produced this excellent ‘Making the Grade’ resource, which we would advise the timber supply chain to adopt.”
HARDWOOD – CURRENT UK CONSUMPTION
UK HARDWOOD RESOURCE
The project aims to improve the flow of hardwood timber from UK woodlands to the end customer and has five main work streams:
Market research to establish the timber species and section sizes being purchased by the UK construction industry, and identify what timber is available in UK woodlands to match this, and also identify the infrastructure required to process this.
Timber stock funding options that will look to increase round wood and sawn timber stocks without imposing additional risks on the supply chain.
Timber supply hub that will be able to locate available timber in independent saw mills around the UK.
Material efficiencies, looking at how sawn wood yields could be improved.
Industry engagement, to unite and galvanise the full support of the UK timber industry.
Key Points from Market Research
Internal and external joinery are the main uses for hardwood
Oak the predominant species specified
Ash, Beech, Cherry, Maple, Tulipwood, and Walnut specified for internal joinery
Iroko, Sapele and Utile specified for external joinery
Lack of information a key barrier for not specifying British
Lack of a consistent grading standard a key issue for all
A belief that timber requirements cannot be met from British sources
British timber is (wrongly) perceived to be more expensive
Merchants unsure on the availability of British timber
Chain of custody a must; required by 80% of customers
Ash availability in UK woodlands would easily meet current demands
Existing infrastructure could easily support a 100% increase in production