We are big London Plane fans here at EWT. It’s one of those species that tests our mettle as sawmillers.
To achieve those delicately pastel coloured boards and lacegrain requires concentration and commitment. No doubt about it, Plane is a demanding timber but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s in a name?
Meet Platanus. Platanus hybrida, Platanus acerifolia or Platanus orientalis. They’re all in the Platanus gang botanically known as the Platanaceae family.
In ‘plain’ (terrible #woodpun alert) language they’re known as Plane trees. Often given suffixes, European Plane, French Plane, London Plane, English Plane… we don’t don’t think we’ll have to explain why that is!
However, they do get mixed in with Acers in the USA. Our american colleagues call a Plane tree a Sycamore but the less of that the better. We’ll just call this lovely wood ‘Plane’ and thank the heavens it exists at all.
So, now what would you like to know about Plane?
As a tree Plane, or London Plane, is unusual. Not especially common, but where it grows, it reaches incredible sizes. Often fond in parks and estates as specimen trees you’d know them immediately by their bark.
It’s a thin skin like bark that seems to be permanently shedding in large greeny grey abstract shaped jigsaw pieces. It’s seeds are bauble clusters that hang and eventually drop to break up into a fuzz of tiny windblown wisps. It’s leaves are lime green, large, leathery and typically acer-esque with vibrant, long lasting colours in autumn.
The Plane timber is unusual too. Fresh sawn it has an amazing colouration of pinks and peaches. As it dries it calms down and becomes more milky brown with a hint of pink but it displays an extraordinary laced grain pattern. Within the grain you often see little hooks and pip like patterns too as the trees often suffer from epirormic growth or burrs. No one can accuse Plane of being plain!
The proper Technical Info from TRADA
Wood Type: Hardwood
Mechanical Strength: High strength properties similar to those of Oak
Durability: Not durable (without further processing e.g. thermal modification)
Moisture movement: Medium
Density (Kg/m3 at 12% moisture): 630 but varies by up to 20% +/-