Character is not a defect.

Jan 18, 2022 | furniture timber, Grown in Britain, joinery timber, wood knowledge

We’ve been having that discussion again… & we’re clear, Character is not a defect.

two waney edgeboards of a through and through cut english character oak log sitting on teh bandmill rollers waiting to be made up into a boule

It’s not something to exclude, engineer out, cut away or waste. Character is the essence of a thing, for us, it’s the essence of wood. It’s to be valued, understood, chosen, and celebrated.

We see it in the tree (or Tom does!).

Tom applies his understanding of how trees grow, strive and mature to select the logs we buy from managed woodlands, responsible foresters or chain of custody certified round timber traders.

He then works with a skilled and highly experienced sawmilling team to make the right choices on first cuts, thickness and boule length so that later on in the husbandry process we can make great choices on behalf of our customers and select superb quality character boards for stock.

the oak character logs on the bandsaw english hardwood logs waiting to be through and through sawn into waney edge through and through cut oak logs producing waney edge charater timber for boules

But character is not for everybody, or every job.

It isn’t always appropriate… and then we’re right back at selection again.

For joinery where small section profiles are required character timber is normally not part of the specification. It’s true, an experience joiner who knows how to work with through and through timber will know how to produce character joinery without sacrificing performance.

There is an art to selecting character timber to meet joinery spec’s, to excluding sap without wasting too much, to placing knots and grain variations correctly so that profiles aren’t compromised by split knots or adverse slope of grain.

Not everyone can work this way but we’re privileged to know plenty of extraordinarily skilled woodworkers who can.

Although not everyone’s a character fan (yet).

Maybe you’ve never used character timber before and you want to give it a go but don’t know where to start. Watch our video, get a feel, and if you get hooked select a pack of square edge to play with or come get a couple of tester boards out of The Timber Rack to start you off.

If you’re a joiner or maker in need of some support on a larger scale job but are unfamiliar with character boards you’re welcome to book a self selection spot with the sales team and ask to have Wayne, our head timber selector alongside. He’ll walk you through the thinking and help you select boards efficiently.

Built into character timber is an inevitable price reduction on prime or super prime. We fully understand the potential to expand your margins or reduce pricing by building in character timber where appropriate.

So we say treasure character timber, knots an’all.

Choose it when you can, and feel confident that you’re supporting sustainable forestry practices and espousing values of ‘least waste’ by doing so.

Character is absolutely not a defect, I mean.. if you didn’t have character, how would we know you were you?!



Read more about timber grades
Watch Tom’s video on Character grade Oak
Find a specialist joiner from our Woodworkers Directory
Search the stock for Character grade timber or Character Packs
Visit The Timber Rack or shop for Rack boards online

Joinery Specific Resources
The BWF website – lots of reference material and support for joiners and furniture makers
The TRADA website – great knowledge base, great advice & there’s even a course on the Fundamentals of Timber open to anyone.