Illustrating a Timber Story

Apr 10, 2018 | english hardwoods, Grown in Britain


Growing up in and around the woodlands and woodyards of South East England we felt young illustrator Thomas WH Compton was well placed to turn his creative skills to our timber story.

Designed to illustrate the processes, skills and people involved in bringing beautiful wood to market, this print series was Thomas’s response to our brief and we’re really pleased with the results. The story of our British timber, from tree selection out in the forests to sawmilling, drying, cataloging and tagging each individual board so that British woodworkers can source great homegrown timber is told here in these super illustrations.

Plate.1 Selection & Felling

The felling of old hardwood trees is emotional.

This thing of beauty has grown and matured over centuries locking up carbon and history inside it’s grain. We carefully select individual trees rather so that the forest canopy is not too disturbed.

The selection and felling is carried out under approved management plans and felling licenses. Skilled timber fellers are employed to drop the tree carefuly, ensuring the butt is not damaged and neither are neighbouring trees.




Plate.2 Milling

Selected logs are transported by round timber lorry to the sawmill where a lifetimes experience is brought to bear on the milling process.

Reading the log and making judgements on how best to cut a particular log happen in the blink of an eye.

This is a raw process and it reveals the first sight of intricate grains patterns, figure, colour and fine details that have been hidden inside the tree.




Plate.3 Wood Seasoning

Hardwood timber takes time to season.

Each board is separated with a run of small sticks to make the log into a boule, labelled then left to dry and season in the open air of the Sussex Downs.

As a rule of thumb the drying is for at least a year per each inch of timber thickness. This plate represents the drying seasons, until such time as the boules are taken into the kilns to reduce the moisture content to levels that mean the timber can be used inside.

Plate.4 Select Your Own Boards

Once kilned, we catalogue, photograph and tag each and every board.

This detail is uploaded to our online stock database so that our woodworking customers can browse and pick their own timber, board by board, piece by piece, from the comfort of their own workshops where ever they are in the world.

We have worked hard to develop this fantastic resource to support and enable designers, makers, framers and joiners everywhere and as such has expanded our customer base geographically to reach far and wide.




Plate.5 Visit the Woodyard

Having selected an online picking list or just developed an appetite to visit we welcome customers at our woodyard.

For selecting a picking list made online in the small hours or for sheets of cutting lists urgently required… the selecting of timber is a tactile as well as visual process, with all the possible timber choices of the proverbial sweetshop.

Once a pile of boards has been accumulated our customers have the choice to take the wood away with them on the day or to book a delivery.

Plate.6 The Maker’s Workshop

Set back in the woods, in his workshop a maker sets to creating a piece of furniture, the fruits of his creative thoughts, ideas and woodworking skills.

Perhaps a commission from a customer, perhaps a speculative piece, but always way to ply his art and make his living.

From his creative endeavours a finished piece of furniture emerges, imbued with a sense of purpose. On completion, with time to reflect, there is a sense of deep satisfaction, the acknowledgment of work well done, and in this moment the wood from the once growing tree, hand felled not so many years before, reaches it’s second and hopefully long life.


You can see why we’re please now can’t you. Come and see these prints for yourself, they’ll be framed and put up in the office any day now.

If you’d like to commission Tom for a project get in touch on the details below.



Tom’s web portfolio

Tom on Instagram

Tom is based in Cornwall and studied at Falmouth University, Illlustration BA (Hons)

P.S. If you think you recognise the name or the illustration style you might remember this Christmas post from Thomas…  he’s pretty good isn’t he?!