Chestnut Laths; A Stick Up(date)

Jan 6, 2020 | building timber, Grown in Britain, wood knowledge, woodland products

Welcome to the world of sweet chestnut coppiced woodland, the home of the hand riven chestnut lath.

coppice chestnut woodland on cowdray estate

This is no ordinary woodland.

In fact, we’re going to come right out and say it… this is not a natural woodland.

This is a coppice. A pact between human and nature where human vows to tend and nurture and nature does what she does to the best of her ability.

What does that mean?

It means that when the sweet chestnut trees that first grew here were felled and the stumps were left, nature sent back not one shoot but many shoots (she was covering her bases.. literally) to grow to replace what was felled.

Do you see how the growth comes up like fingers around a central space? Nature’s so clever. And the growth is heading straight for the sky. There’s so much light because they’re not overshadowed by a mature canopy they just race for it so the coppice shoots are super straight. That makes them super useful.

In Britain we have known to how do this on purpose, as a method of woodland management, since the stone age. Many of our ancient woodlands actually show visible ancient coppice practice.

Today coppicing isn’t terribly common.

Probably because the purpose of it was to be able to harvest trees. Coppicing is tree farming and these days there’s really no need or use for the small diameter sweet chestnut round logs that grow in just a few years (or is there?!). The value of this coppice product is relatively low and the labour involved in managing and harvesting a coppice is fairly intensive.

But still, some of us humans are dedicated to it.

Partly to keep the ancient knowledge and skills alive. Partly because it can be a very rewarding way to live if you love nature. Partly because there is sometimes a very quiet call for a few of the traditional coppice products and that makes it just about worth doing.

These bundles of sticks known as sweet chestnut hand riven laths are one of them.

Riven Chestnut Laths palletised and waiting to be delivered

And it turns out people do need bundles of sticks sometimes.

There is nothing to replace a riven lath for traditional lime plastering. The natural riven surface created by the natural splitting down the grain gives the lime plaster mix a perfect ‘grab’. The irregularity of the surface, the edges, the thickness even…  is the key to a successful ceiling or wall. For old house restoration or for heritage projects they are an absolute must. For a new build they offer a natural, healthy, sustainable, low carbon, simple method of creating an interior wall.

Want to know more?

Visit our Hand Riven Lath page to find out more, to get the product info, to get a link to the stock or to get in touch

We Keep Sticks (Stock)

To see our our current Sweet Chestnut Lath specification, pricing and stock click here and now 🙂

NB. All our coppice products are certified GIB-S (Grown in Britain) i.e. they have been legally and sustainably sourced from well managed woodlands and satisfy sustainable procurement process and administration. That means next time someone wants to build a skyscraper (hopefully from wood) they will be able to choose to use laths to do it with… !!!



Parham Estate ride through coppice sweet chestnut lath bundles stacked traditional woodland products sweet chestnut hand riven laths stack traditional woodland products sweet chestnut hand riven laths seasoning nicely traditional woodland products sweet chestnut hand riven laths in bundles ready for lime plastering chestnut coppice leaves light through the canopy traditional woodland products sweet chestnut hand riven laths in bundles ready for lime plastering chestnut laths fixed with austenitic stainless steel nails traditional woodland products sweet chestnut hand riven laths drying in the fresh air chestnut leaves detail Coppice product hand riven chestnut laths for lime plastering Coppice product hand riven chestnut laths for lime plastering



Choose a lime supplier and get plastered;

Old House Store

Mike Wye

Lime Stuff

Rose of Jericho

Read more about Coppicing at the Small Woods Association

Read Forest Research (FC) on Coppicing