seach from a wide range of timber stocks

Larch, Siberian, Eurpoean, Japanese. Whatever the genus, it’s long overdue for a bit of TLC.

This tough hard pine really helps us fill the gap that good old Pitch Pine left behind.

It’s a fantastic surfaces finish for cladding, flooring and  decking. It’s wholly sustainable with great supply routes from properly managed forests.

It seems that along with Douglas Fir, Larch is growing in popularity and being specified more and more by architects and furniture designers. Perhaps there’s a pine renaissance on the way!


What’s in a name?

When we (timber people) talk about  Larch we’re generalising about a few related timber species with some subtle variations.

Siberian Larix sibirica really does originate in Siberia but is grown in northern Europe, Canada and North America too

European  Larix decidua or Larix europaea generall originating from northern and eastern europe – alpine region, carpathian mountains, moravian heights – but was extensively planted across europe including in the UK in 17th century.

Japanese  Larix kaempferi originated in Japan but planted extensively throughout Europe including in the UK.

The details below give an general overview incoporating qualities from all three specie types.



Heart wood is reddish brown when dry (although quite rich bricky red when fresh sawn) with a contrasting band of narrow white sap and really sharp definition on the grain. This can give very nice firgure and grain pattern as well as a striking Pine appearance. Larch is a very resinous timber with sticky bubbles popping up here and there althoug UK trees are less so than and are probably faster growing.

It saws, machines & finishes fairly well but loose knots can cause trouble. It dries out quite fast once cut, with the potential to warp if not cared for during this process. Knots can split and loosen/fall out and that rumour you heard about Larch splitting is true if you try and nail it. Pre drill and you’re fine.


Technical Info from TRADA

Mechanical Strength: Generally tough and hard with good stength properties

(Jap 30% softer than Eu/Sib) and know to be 50% harder than Scots Pine

Durability: Homegrown = slightly durable,  Imported = moderately durable

Treatability: Extremely difficult although sapwood easier (maybe UK will be easier re: less resin?)

Moisture movement: Small, across the board

Texture: Fine

Density: 530 (Jap = soft) to 590 t Kg/m3 (dry)



Fresh sawn: (Homegrown) Custom cut & commonly available in widths or sections up to 250mm and 6m long. Larger sizes are always possible if there’s a tree to get it from. Larch does grow long and straight so getting above 6m isn’t so much of a problem depending on your widths. Widths are trickier. If you need it don’t be afraid to ask… and then we’ll ask the foresters!!

Dry: (Imported) Usually available ex 25, 50, 65, 80 & 100mm thick. Boards are not terribly wide but decent lengths with max 5ish metres similar to Douglas Fir & Western Red Cedar



Fresh sawn, this species is good for heavy structural work, cladding & decking

Dry, it’s a like Douglas Fir, a good all rounder really but it probably doesn’t reach teh dizzy grading heights the Douglas can. It’s still good for  joinery or furniture work. Super for flooring and excellent as air dried external cladding , looks great with a machined profile because it has a nice  machined surface as the grain is nice and fine.

We also supply bias cut shingles (sawn like the barrel making timber) for cladding (beautiful!) and sawn laths for plastering.



Imported Larch tends to be  air dried,  even if it was fresh sawn at the time of shipping. Kiln dried is also available.

Homegrown it’s easily available fresh sawn and can be dried to order for use as machined cladding or for interior use.



We keep kiln dried stock for furniture &  joinery and we supply a lot of fresh sawn homegrown as custom orders for cladding projects.

As with our dear old Douglas Fir, the homegrown Larch is becoming so popular that we’re planning to lay down stock for drying ( UK stock.. unheard of!) so that we can machine cladding, decking, for flooring in long lengths, wide widths… exciting stuff!


Use the links in our menu to explore the STOCK or to GET A QUOTE


We always loved these Larch shakes on the Foster + Partners apartment building nr St.Moritz, Switzerland

We are championing homegrown Larch but we can’t escape the fact that UK Larch has had it’s share of pests and diseases. The Forestry Commission website is the best place to find out what’s going on with Phytophthera

Larch by wikipedia



larch strip rainscreen cladding fresh sawn larch featheredge cladding featheredge larch cladding with superb detailing wood in architecture larch timber for cladding or joinery larch feather edge cladding French motorway services Larch pergola structuresaville gardens larch timber gridshell building larch gridshell structure in the making with finger jointing and glue saville gardens homegrown larch gridshell  French motorway services Larch cladding and pergola waney edge fresh sawn cladding includes larch





Oh, that’s what that word means…

Welcome to our collection of wood words and timber terms with definitions, explanations and elaborations all on the subject of wood and trees.

AD  or Air Dried

Air Dried timber is timber that has been left to season in the open air. Rule of thumb for Hardwood air drying is 1 year per inch of thickness to be fully seasoned. The reason for drying timber is to reduce the moisture content within and therefore reduce the chance of movement once in use. Air dried T&T timber is suitable for external joinery/furniture/cladding/ etc.



Horizontal load bearing timbers.



The useable (usually the lower& branchless) part of a log


BTM or Boards to make

Is a term used to refer to a way of supplying timber. ‘Boards to make’ is short for boards to make a cutting list and describes a method of supply where intact boards, waney or square edged, are selected and provided against a cutting list, rather than cut to match the cutting list nominal sizes or planed all round to match cutting list finished sizes. For experienced woodworkers it can be preferable as the choice of cut is theirs and any waste is kept but conversely it takes more work and space to store. It’s



The French term for a log butt that has been cut through and through



A method developed by Henry Ford to make a work area more organised and efficient. The five steps – which would be done in sequence – are Cleaning up | Arranging | Neatness | Discipline | Ongoing improvement.

Note: CANDO closely resembles the 5 methodology developed by Toyota which was based on Ford’s method & is often used within Lean Thinking as a business improvement technique.



This term refers literally to the ‘character’ of the timber species i.e. the typical look, feel, behaviour etc it displays.
It can also refer to a grade when talking about Oak, more than any other species, and generally means that the timber has too much ‘character’ to be able to make the plain, clear, knot free grade that some joiners and woodworkers like to use and which we call Prime. See our TIMBER GRADES page for more info



Separation of fibres along the grain forming a crack or fissure that does not extend through timber or veneer from one surface to the other



Although it is possible to obtain timber in large width dimensions for cladding there are guidelines for dimensions from TRADA that exclude large dimension widths because the shrinkage and movement that can occur will be greater in wide boards than in narrow boards and the same width long lengths tend to bend or warp very quickly, whether bowing off the saw or in storage. The resulting problems with fixing and wastage are enough for us to advise against use of timber cladding in large dimensions, width or length.

Durability of the timbers has been measured by TRADA** to a degree (we assume you are not going to bury your cladding in the ground), but the service life of your timber cladding will be largely down to the detailing and fixing methods. Water is the element most likely to cause rots and damage and is the element you are managing by purposeful design. TRADA’s book External Timber Cladding has very good information, details, photographs, advice etc.

TRADA and the BRE’s timber density figures are generally given at 12% moisture content – technically a kiln dried product – but all homegrown cladding material will be of higher moisture content than this and therefore will be heavier. As a rule of thumb F/S Oak is 1100kg/m³ at roughly 50% moisture content and A/D will fluctuate depending on the weather with an average moisture content ,once fully dried (1 yr per inch thickness for hardwoods), of around 20%.

Density of the timber is important for cladding in terms of impact resistance, durability, weight (loading), stability etc.



The colour of a timber depends on it’s species, age, the soil it was grown on, weathering and many other factors. It is probably the most important visual element in choosing a timber.


This the process of taking one raw material eg. log and converting it to another material for use eg. beam or T&T board



Forestry practice that involves the harvest of young growth of Ash, Hazel or Chestnut by cutting back stumps to ground level that quickly re-grow. The material harvested has many uses including for thatching, fence making, lath & batten making, and makes very sustainable fuel supply. We use coppice for our lime plaster laths and for fencing.


CTS  or Cut to Size

Meaning the timber is cut to a nominal width and length in a nominal thickness and sizes indicated are pre-planing dimensions



Likely to be the key factor in choice of species for cladding and external joinery work, the choice coming down to whether to use a preservative, a modified timber or rely on natural durability of a timber species and it’s ability to achieve a desired performance

Natural Durability: The inherent resistance of wood to attack by wood destroying organisms (BS EN 350.1) and in this classification relates to the resistance of the heartwood to attack by wood decaying fungi


Class 1 Very Durable
Class 2 Durable Cedar of Lebanon, Chestnut, Oak, Yew
Class 3 Moderately Durable Western Red Cedar, Walnut, Cherry
Class 4 Slightly Durable Elm, Larch (3-4), Douglas Fir (3-4), Scots Pine
Class 5 Not Durable Ash, Beech, Sycamore


External use

A few species of wood are suitable for use externally. The timber can generally can be higher in moisture content. Fresh sawn timber is fine outdoors and as air dried timber which has already lost moisture, shrunk and stabilised. Changing conditions will continue to impact timber used externally. The key is intelligent application i.e. using the right timber for the job with good detailing, good fixings and if any, good finishes.

Face dimensions

Face dimensions are the specific measurement – usually width in mm – of individual boards that are used for decking, cladding and flooring where the profile includes an overlap and the total width of the board is larger than the width of the face.


FE or Feather Edge

Feather edge is a simple 4 sided overlapping profile, usually cut from Fresh Sawn timber, for cladding and fencing use. It has one thin edge and one thicker edge, one overlaps the other.



Metals containing Iron – not many common metals are Ferrous free. For use with our timbers containing Tannin (Oak, Chestnut, Walnut, WRC) Austenitic Stainless Steel is recommended to avoid corrosion and staining issues.

Finished sizes

Finished sizes are exactly that, the sizes the piece of timber is machined to finish at. It’s used a lot in cutting list quoting where a customer provides a list of sizes of timber they require. The finished sizes have to be less (8mm) than the origin timber dimensions, what we call nominal dimensions.  So if the required finished size is 45mm thick, then the raw timber must be from 54mm thick to allow for 9mm of timber to be machined away to finish at the 45mm. It’s hard to talk about wasting so much but that’s the nature of requirements, need timber to be perfectly smooth, flat and to specific dimensions.


Fire resistance

Timber has minimal deformation during fire and it’s strength is not compromised by extreme heat, therefore risk of sudden failure is excluded. Timber will only fail mechanically after fire has eaten into the wood, which happens gradually over period of time. Steel by contrast, is affected by extreme heat and is prone to sudden failure



Also known as Woodland Management. The management of land and trees with regard to protecting the natural woodland environment whilst facilitating forestry based industries.


FS or Fresh Sawn

Fresh Sawn timber, also known as Green, is timber newly cut from the log. It is timber still in a soft state, it’s is high in moisture but evaporates most of that off as it dried,  hardening at the same time.


General Info

Descriptive. timber colour and grain pattern, whether it can be treated, painted etc and how it works. eg. prone to split when nailed etc


Timber Grade / Grading

Timber grades vary depending on the qualities within the wood and standards set for assessment for purpose. Structural timbers are graded depending on their use and fitness for purpose. Joinery (inc furniture, flooring etc) timbers are graded on their visual qualities and signs of stability. See our TIMBER GRADES page for more info. and or see Structural Grades and Joinery Grades

Grain pattern

Determined by the way a tree grows, different on every species. The main visual quality of a piece of wood is in it’s grain pattern, perhaps second only to Colour.




The inner zone of wood that, in the growing tree, has ceased to contain living cells or conduct sap.



Grown in the UK.


Internal use

Most species of wood are suitable for use internally. Wood for internal use generally requires to be kiln drying but air dried can sometimes be dried enough. Using timber internally always depends on ambient moisture content and is all about managing moisture movement.



Assembly of worked timber components and panel products other than structural timber or cladding. Generally Joinery refers to finely worked carpentry like doors, windows, frames, skirting, architrtaves and mouldings. It requires skilled wood working and a good understanding of wood. The deeper the understanding the better the joiner.


Joinery Grades

BS5756 Hardwoods
See our TIMBER GRADES page for more info


Jointed Wood

Piece of wood made up from smaller pieces joined together end to end, such as finger joint or built up with face to face or with edge to edge joints


KD or Kiln Dried

Kiln Dried timber is fully seasoned AD timber that can be further dried in the kiln. This takes the moisture level down from that achieved naturally in the open air so that the timber can be used in our very dry, centrally heated homes without risk of extreme movement.



Layer wood glued to make a solid thickness, width or length


Lean Thinking

Thinking deeply about purpose, process and people in order to maximise customer value while minimising waste.

For more information visit our Lean guru Gemma’s website SPARKimprovement



Horizontal load bearing timber supported on brick/blockwork over an aperture (window or door to you and me!)


Moisture content

All solid timber has a moisture content and this is measurable to within a few percent. Moisture meters are available in varying types and accuracies. The moisture content of a timber changes due to a natural rate of drying once sawn, the mechanical drying process and in response to atmospheric conditions.

Guidelines for levels of moisture content are given in BS 1186-3 as follows


Exterior Joinery – all 13 – 19%
Interior Joinery – Buildings with intermittent heating 13 – 17%
Interior Joinery – Buildings with continuous heating to room temperatures of 12º-19º 10 – 14%
Interior Joinery – Buildings with continuous heating to room temperatures of 20º-24º 8 – 12%


Moisture movement

Movement is the dimensional change across the width and thickness of boards when the moisture content of timber changes in response to atmospheric conditions (statement TRADA)

Moisture movement is a relative term and species have been given the broad classes of Small, Medium or Large movement

Rule of Thumb: within the moisture content range 5-30% the across the grain dimensions change by the following classes


Small 1% movement for every 5% change in moisture content
Medium 1% movement for every 4% change in moisture content
Large 1% movement for every 3% change in moisture content


to illustrate: a board of 150mm width Oak (Medium) at 25% moisture content will come down to 148.5mm at 21%, 147mm at 17%, and 145.5mm at 13%. Greater width boards are therefore more liable to larger movement.



These are the shaped profiles , often called architectural joinery, that will finish off the interior of a property. The door linings and architraves, the scotia, the picture rails, dado rails and skirting boards and any other decorative finishes that might be required.


Nominal sizes

Nominal sizes are the raw timber sizes.
When we use nominal sizes to pick on a cutting list we supply the original thicknesses – the ones we cut the logs at on the bandsaw, reduced due to shrinkage over time but pretty much predictable – and widths that allow for waste material in machining. When it comes to length we just aim for the least waste possible.

Oldest timber building

…in England, the Stave Church at Greensted in Essex, has timbers dated at 12th century. See:


Oldest timber building

…in the world is the Horiyu – ji Temple in Ikaruga, Japan has timbers dating early 7th century( built 607AD) and possibly late 6th. See:


PAR or Planed all Round

Meaning planed on each surface apart from ends (4 sides), usually to specified dimensions i.e. the required finished sizes


Peter the stockman

Peter has worked for us for over 30 years (he won’t thank me for telling you that) and knows all there is to know about the timber in the yard. He manages the stockshed and the kilns and you’ll know him by his hawaiian shirt and cheeky grin!



The occurance of Pippy knots in a timber is due to a species specific (usually Oak and Elm only) behaviour and results in a very attractive knot and grain pattern, also known as Cats Paw.



Vertical load bearing timbers


Prime Grade

Timber that is mostly knot free, clear and straight grained. See our TIMBER GRADES page for more info.



Logs are felled (generally a winter activity) and extracted (generally a summer activity) from woodlands throughout the UK and transported to our site as Round Timber (the whole log with branches cleaned off). We try to keep a stock of as many species as may be needed to cut plank and beam.

To produce Air Dried and Kiln Dried timber we saw the logs in our bandmill into planks of pre-determined thicknesses in anticipation of the future requirements of stock. These thicknesses are cut slightly larger than the required thickness to allow for shrinkage eg: to be able to supply a 25mm /1″ or nominal 27mm board we will cut a plank to 29mm and it will shrink to 27mm whilst drying. Allowances increase slightly as planks get thicker and shrinkage ratio increases.

The planks are then stacked as a whole log with small sticks of timber (usually Poplar) laid between each plank, evenly spaced to allow for constant air flow. These are then stacked in the yard and left to dry in the open air (Air Dry). The time can vary depending on thickness of board and species of timber. Some timbers are more sensitive and dry rapidly eg; Ash & Sycamore. In general hardwoods dry slowly at one year per inch of thickness. The timbers reach a level of moisture content after this time period that allows them to be kilned. Care is taken to avoid stick marks in sensitive timber species.

Beam timber is always custom cut to order so that it is in optimum condition and the customer can determine the exact size required.



The sectional outline of the timber i.e. the shape you see if you sliced across the grain. It’s mostly use to talk about machined shaped mouldings. These are the detailed, shaped profiles cut with a moulder – a machine with 6 or more heads (cutting blades) – often used in architectural joinery as part of interior finishes.



This refers to a traditional method of hand splitting wood down the grain. Used to make laths*, battens, shingles and shakes. *Hand riven laths are always the best kind as the lime plaster can grip to the roughly grooved surface of the timber easily.


RT or Round Timber

The term for trees that have been felled and are now large diameter felled logs



The outer zone of wood that, in the growing tree contains living cells and conducts sap.



Section is short for cross-section, a 90 degree slice across a width – as opposed to down a length.
Sections are the way we talk about structural timber – structural sections – because the inherent strength is a factor of the surface area of that cross section and the ratios of dimensions. Further info on STRUCTURAL TIMBER via TRADA


Service Life

The TRADA test for durability class involved timber being buried in the ground and measured the susceptibility to infestation and rot. It is not a measure of durability for typical uses eg: beams and posts, cladding, windows and doors, furniture etc. The actual service life of any species of timber may be a very long time depending on the fixing, design and detailing, orientation and prevailing weather.


Separation of fibres along the grain, irrespective of the extent of penetration, due to stresses developing in a standing tree, or in felling, or in drying of converted timber. ‘Shakes’ also refers to the riven timber tiles made for cladding.



These are WRC, Oak or Chestnut timber tiles, made by hand or machine, to clad walls and roofs



Also know as moisture movement. Can be estimated depending on species Re: Trada data.


Silver down

This is a term used to describe the way timber cladding, or any timber left unfinished externally, weathers as it dries and hardens whilst exposed to the elements. After a period, averagely 1 to 2 years, the colour will fade to a quite beautiful grey, silvery colour. To prevent this the timber must be protected with an external finish of some kind on a regular basis. To restore timber to it’s original colour would require sanding or planing work and the original colour will be revealed under the silver surface.



Where it grows/ it’s origins, inc where we source it from eg ‘SE England’ Typical growing sizes of the tree – dependent on growing conditions i.e. soil content, local climate, orientation and prevailing weather. Availability – common or rare/easy to source or not – some species are grown very low numbers, or only ornamentally and are therefore harder to source and available volumes are low and prices can reflect this.


Given as the Common Name and the Biological name of the tree



Separation of fibres along the grain forming a crack or fissure that extends through timber or veneer from one surface to the other


SE or Square Edge

Square edge, meaning the Waney edges of the boards have been cut off so that the timber is squared and usually rectangular shape rather than tapered. This is usually how imported timbers are supplied. Square edge also refers to a profile cut from Fresh Sawn timber for cladding.



Mechanical strength of timber should be assessed in relation to resistance to shock, axial compression & tension, resistance to bending and elasticity /deflection. various data sources are available for reference. Trada and BRE are good authorities on technical information on timber.


Structural Grades

BS4976 Softwoods

BS5756 Hardwoods

issues to be considered for use of structural timber : re: loading ; bending, tension, compression, shear, elasticity also :sapwood, knots, slope of grain, deflection, distortion, self-weight of frame. Further info on STRUCTURAL TIMBER via TRADA


Super Prime Grade

Super Prime grade really only applies to our Croatian Oak square edge boards that have been selected out from Prime grade stock as they achieve over and above the requirements. This grade of Oak is of a consistent pale oak colour,  it has very little variation in grain, it does include a fairly high percentage of quarter sawn boards, in appearance it is the ‘cleanest’ Oak it is possible to buy and in function it is very stable and as such is highly sought after for joinery. See our TIMBER GRADES page for more info

Tannic Acid

Some timber species contain Tannin, Quertannic acid that is corrosive to Ferrous metals, eating into the metal and leaving black blue stain on the timber but ironically (not pun intended) makes the timber species more durable.


Thermal properties

Wood is a good insulator, has good U-values, in that it does not conduct heat well. By the same token it has bad thermal mass, in that it does not store heat well.          This makes wood great as an insulator, as a barrier to stop heat getting out or cold getting in, which why it is great as flooring, external cladding and roofing. For this same reason it is not the ideal material to put over underfloor heating but if used, once the floor is up to temperature it will maintain the level of ambient heat required to heat the room but will not be able to store heat and therefore will probably use more energy than a material that has good thermal mass. It is also a good electrical insulator

T&T or Through & Through

A T&T plank is where a log has been ‘sliced’ right through the length with the bark left on. This is how we mill the majority of our logs and is always done to a specific thickness.


Timber Type

Given as Hardwood or Softwood depending on species


Timber properties

More technical info – on movement/stability, durability, strengths, density, particular values that are relevant to the appropriate uses. Fixings and metal components & tannin



The ease with which a wood can be penetrated by a liquid eg. a preservative. There are classes for which species are rated.



TRADA states that timber species rated as durability Class 3 or better can be used without treatment if non-durable sapwood is excluded (BS EN 350 Durability of Wood… statement)



This is the term we use to assess the amount timber left after conversion i.e. the ‘unusable’ timber separated from the usable timber. We have established averages for waste for the purpose of measuring and pricing, but it varies depending on species, specification and material.


WE or Waney Edge

Boards that still have the bark left on the sides, left as T&T or sometimes, e.g. for cladding, one edge is squared and one left waney. Waney edge timber is usually tapered, having the natural shape of the log i.e. the tree is wider at the base and narrows higher up



Western Red Cedar



This refers to how well a species works, whether it is easy or difficult with hand tools or machine tools, and is usually related to grain patterns, hardness, acid or resin content etc. Generally with dry hardwoods the more wavy grained and knotty they are, the more tricky they are to work. Fresh sawn timber is always softer and therefore easier to work.


Working Sawmill

We still operate as a fully functioning sawmill, sawing T&T plank through the autumn/winter season, beam, making laths, fencing and all our waste goes for firewood or sawdust for the local farm



The u-value (thermal conductivity) information for timber is very generalised and gives the value as 0.14 W/m.k .Not much data is available and what is does not go into individual species, although for construction purposes this figure seems to suffice (NB it is based on data for material 1 metre thickness) Ref.


Visual grading

Our resident Visual Strength Grader Steve (TRADA will be glad to grade your structural Oak to BS5756 if required. Call and ask him for advice on 01730 816941.



Got a question about the glossary of wood words? Get in touch…

Three hurdles a day…

keeps the doctor away…  that and a can of sardines.

Today I left the office (yup.. I really did) to go here…

I don’t leave the office very often so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity…  which, I should add, arose mainly because we now have extra hands on deck… yeay!!

Our lovely Chris…  and here she is

… oh please don’t look at the office!!!  We are getting a make over imminently…  new floor, new desks, new storage wall… everything…  in our own wood!!! I’m so excited…


I scurried around the yard doing some chores…   packed the dog, a google map (hmmm I wonder where the road atlas is…  Augustus Farmer???) and a camera into the car and promptly skipped off down the A272.

I found (yes I actually found it first time) the Sustainability Centre  in between East Meon and Clanfield It’s  SO pretty round there, all rolling hills covered in forests and meadows… I can’t get over how many trees there are in Hampshire.. one section of the A272 has incredible, huge copper Beeches at the side of the road… but I digress… Sustainability Centre..

After a quick trip to the reception desk I started wandering the paths and trails until I found what I was looking for…

Hurdle making central!

Hurdle making should be an olympic sport… can you see Darren Hammerton at work here? He is leaping up and down as Hazel strips sweep through the air at a rate of knots… he uses his whole body weight to stamp down between the vertical staves until they sit tightly on top of the previous strip. Hurdles are not as flimsy and delicate as they look!

No wonder there’s not an ounce of fat on this man… he is lean (but not very mean)…  although he puts it down to sardines (!) I can see a mile off that he get’s more of a workout hurdle making than I ever have on two wheels (there are plenty who will attest to that) and this is what he does from morning ’til night! It’s very impressive.

And so are the hurdles …as are the other beautiful woodland products he makes.


So that’s his day.. cut the Hazel, split the Hazel, shape the Hazel, weave the hazel, jump up and down with the Hazel.

I’m afraid I’m being flippant about something that is actually very important. Darren manages coppice – Hazel and Chestnut woodlands. He uses the timber harvested from those to create these products for use in building, landscaping, gardening. And if it wasn’t used to make all these different products then the timber would be perfect for fuel at the very least.

He’s just one person and he’s doing all of that. and ‘all of that’ is growing, naturally, out of the ground

I don’t want to bore you here and now with all the reasons why I think this is a big deal but it just is. What is exciting is there is so much room for more of this kind of industry, we have so much un-managed coppice in our part of the country and perhaps it could all be as productive as Darren’s?

If I wasn’t so decrepit I might have to consider it.. don’t laugh!! I’ve never met an unhappy coppicer…  just coppicers with sore hands and sore backs who are a bit soggy around the edges and haven’t had a holiday for.. ummm years?! Take a break you guys!!!!

So I stopped bothering Darren and asking him stupid questions. We said our goodbyes through a half made hurdle destined for Broadlands and I marched off back to the car.. dog in tow.. and made my way back to the office.

I got about 1 1/2 miles.

First of all there was a joinery shop with lovely old wooden buildings like something out of The Waltons I wanted to get a picture of… do you think that hole is for the birds or the dust extraction? I don’t care, I love it.. and I love the cobwebs..

The young ( I am old remember.. he was probably in his 30’s) guy from L Scott Joinery who came out to find out why I was skulking around his workshop was very friendly.. he turned out to be  a joiner who is a closet furniture maker… isn’t that just like all you woodworkers?

Harbouring thoughts of diversification in your own time ?  I know you’re all doing it.. I know hurdle making Darren wants to build a viking long ship… ! did I mention he was an ambitious chap??

So, it didn’t stop with ‘The Waltons’ at L Scott Joinery

Then I started hurdle spotting.

I found this sweet but sturdy village house displaying a wealth of traditional building materials and methods… I couldn’t not stop. Hurdles? check… flint wall? check… thatch? check… waney edge cladding? check.. black painted? extra points? check.. exposed timber frame? check…  shall I stop now? ok one more… handmade brick coping? check…


ok, I’m done now.

I did hurdle spotting all the way back to Cocking.

Conclusion? There aren’t enough of them. Same goes for coppicers… duh! That might of been one the dumbest things I have ever said..

On that note I shall go and get back to work on our stock list and website. Both thoroughly overdue.

Hey… (my Grandma used to scold me for that – hay is for horses.. ) in amongst leaflets at the Sustainability Centre I found there is going to be a WOOD FAIR at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.. are any of you people going?? I’ve never come across it before….  maybe I need to get out more?

You want to be a coppicer now don’t you? Do it! Darren started off studying at Sparsholt one of two local colleges for forestry, aroboriculture and woodmanship are near Lewes and near Winchester

If you’re not partial to that there book learn’n’ try one of the courses Darren runs himself with another well known coppicer Ben Law at the Sustainability Centre

If you are desperate to have hurdles, or shakes or laths or any other lovely woodland product in your home or garden or landscape or building project just let us know and we’ll do our best to furnish you with whatever your heart desires.. or your client desire.. in wood.

Thank you for being you.

Back soon. Sarah

Not had enough yet? try this.. the website formally known as .

One of these days you’ll get a shock when you visit here and find you can check our stock without having to rely on ‘the hawaiian shirted one’ to do it for you!!!

All in a lather

It’s our Riven Laths I’m all in a lather about.

I need to know more about their use. I need to know how a lime plasterer works. I want to understand more about their fitting and fixing. About the why’s and wherefores of  this length spec thing.

Our laths are Sweet Chestnut. Really really really sweet Chestnut. I mean, look at them.. don’t they look sweet?

They’re sweet because this traditional little building material has such a fabulous story.

Wanna hear/read it? Sitting comfortably?

Right, then I’ll begin. (I loved Jackanory.. can you tell?)

Once upon a time, deep in the forests and woodlands of ancient Sussex (& Surrey, Kent & Hampshire) there existed rare individuals, men, and undoubtedly women (we’ll call them workers-of-woodland for now) – who understood, believed wholeheartedly in and lived and breathed the art of coppicing*.

*For our purposes we shall say that ‘coppicing’ is the nurturing of Sweet Chestnut saplings into maturity that can be cut back and then will shoot up and grow again year after year, time after time, providing a renewable timber source for ever and ever into infinity…

So anyway, back to the workers-of-woodland…

The more they coppiced, the more the Chestnut coppice rewarded them (the men and the women) with fresh growth to cut until, one day, they found that where they might have been tempted to just make a whole load of split rail fencing or palings or chuck it all into chunks to make amazing charcoal with everything they cut, they decided that perhaps it would be worth their while to talk to the local Plastering Fairy and ask him if the Chestnut strips that split like nobody’s business and had excellent grab on the surface (because of the intact but irregular grain) might be of some use to him and his Lime Plaster Sorcery.

So they did.

And he said;


And then he said;

“Can you give me a pallet of 10,000 ft in bundles of 50 with mixed lengths of however long the Sweet Chestnut coppiced strips grow in please?”

The workers-of-woodland (a lady) said;

“Yes.. I can. The Chestnut strips will come in lengths of about 3, 3 & 1/2 and 4 of your ancient and sacred feet – that you will never change the use of even if anyone ever does invent millimetres, centimetres and metres…  and for future reference lets all call these strips ‘laths’… – have you got a purchase order number for that?”

“I have. 42” said the P.F.

And so she delivered a pallet of laths, just like these ones, and the P.F. was happy with lengths as they came…  he didn’t need fixed long lengths because every wall he plastered was different… mixed lengths meant he could waste less because he wasn’t always cutting little bits off the ends when he got to a stud or a joist…  so he managed to conserve his pennies (not metric pennies though, mind you) as well as his laths.

And so you see… that is the story (or a story) of the amazing and versatile and durable and about as sustainable and green and ecologically sound a product as there could ever be…  Hand Riven Sweet Chestnut Laths.

In 3ft, 3ft6 in or 4ft lengths…  mixed.

I think I would have liked the P.F.

NB.I. If the Plastering Fairy had asked for fixed long lengths though, the workers-of-woodland would have had to throw away at least a third of laths they produced or just stop making them altogether and make something else because it might not have been financially viable anymore… and then if the P.F. were adamant he needed the fixed long lengths the workers-of-woodland would have had to offer Oak and that isn’t coppiced, doesn’t naturally grow in these lengths but grows for tens and hundreds of years into big logs that would need be cut down into fixed length chunks to split lath from…   !!!

NB II. I do make this stuff up as I go along remember… or do I ??? Hmmmmm

Some real facts about coppicing…  not the gobbeldygook written by me.. and more

Good old IMDB’s got the goods on Jackanory…

Good old Google Images.. coppiced woodlands and lath

Another home run for Chestnut….  Trees..  for life after oil..

Learn to coppice.. become a woodland-worker-person… here

and here  on this pretty website

Or at Plumpton

Or Sparsholt  make products from coppiced woodland

When you think coppice.. this is what you really want to see..  groups and communities making it work.. even if this pdf is a bit out of date..

All joking aside, if you feel that the life of a coppicer might be for you and you can’t imagine anything better for your future than your days out in the woods producing Chestnuts products for sale and maintaining the land you work on for the generations to come maybe you should look into it? It’s a slow old business, the growing and harvesting of woodland products but opportunites do arise, and can be fruitful for those that are dedicated, determined and patient! The least we can do is put you in touch with someone you can talk to for advice… email me and I’ll do what I can to help.

Come and see a real live pallet of Hand Riven Chestnut Laths with your own eyes then come an visit us

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