The timbers described here are from sustainable sources: single estate trees, forestry timber felled in the active management of local woodland, or deciduous hardwoods plantation grown for commercial use

We are not so pure that we have not, where appropriate, used tropical hardwoods such as Rosewood as a precious material. We do have small quantities of Mahogany in the workshop, albeit reclaimed joinery from a local estate. We also use timber from sustainable sources in North America and Europe.

Lost & Found, the brand we launched to promote our batch production items - which are all sustainable, recycled, or reclaimed - is a good example of our philosophy. Our guiding thought is that if furniture is made well, it will last, its owners and users will cherish it.

Ash

Ash's high elasticity makes it great for steam bending projects. Although it is not liked by many modern makers because of its open grain, it was used very successfully for some of the best nineteenth century furniture, in the form of ebonised ash, for example, by EW Godwin.

We've used it successfully in projects such as a sleeping platform and bunk beds, where the olive ash heartwood formed a striking contrast with surrounding honey-coloured figure. A really outstanding timber for this kind of project owing to its hardness, relative low cost, and inherent beauty.

Beech

 

Used extensively for upholstered framework, steam bending, and kitchen worktops. Often preferred for kitchen work where the tight, closed-grain properties of the timber lend it to food preparation and easy maintenance. Beech has a pronounced tendency to move. Available as white beech or as the distinctive pink, steamed beech, which most people know.

While much commercially available beech is pretty bland stuff we have a great locally grown source of 2-inch stock, which lent itself ideally to a small kitchen project recently. In this case we were able to utilise naturally occurring spalting and some beautiful colour in the figure the like of which I've never seen in commercially available stock.

Cherry

 

A fabulous furniture timber, used extensively for furniture making and possibly best associated with the simple, clean-lined aesthetics of Shaker Furniture. Typically a rich pink colour, darkening with age, but also can have streaks of green and orange. Becoming a bit a a modern cliche, we've only one recent example of work in North American Cherry, a smallish occasional table.

Douglas Fir

A softwood (termed because it is coniferous) it is actually very hard, durable and resistant to water. The size of the trees, growing up to 120m, means enormous sections are available, making it widely used in construction and outdoor furniture.

Elm

 

The king of British hardwoods. What can I say about this beautiful, elegant, fascinating timber. Sadly, much diminished by Dutch Elm disease, we have to view sizeable boards of Elm today in the same way as a valuable tropical hardwood. When it is available, elm is unsurpassed in native hardwoods for figure, colour, lustre and interest. Massively durable and makes the most impressive tables. We have local sources for some truly impressive boards, a small number of attractive boards in the racks as well as a reliable UK supplier.

Maple

     

North American Maple is hard, lustrous, sleek and interestingly pale. Milky white maple yellows less than sycamore and like its fellow acer family member can have the most exquisite quilting and fiddleback effects in the grain. Maple of course looks very modern, even a little severe, and can make furniture with really amazing clean lines.

Oak

Many of our projects are made in Welsh oak. Best known for its durability and density, oak lends itself to fine interior cabinetry, outdoor furniture, structural timber framing and of course was the basic building block for British Naval power. We use three types of Oak, all of which are distinctive timbers.

Welsh Oak

     

The Welsh word for Oak, "derw" is thought to be the source for the word Druid. Along with Yew trees, majestic and ancient oaks were worshiped by our pagan forebears as the oldest living things known. Quite right too..

We source it from a local saw mill on Gower (when available), from Wentwood Forest in the Usk Valley, Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire. I've found greater depth of colour and more interest in the figure from locally available oak, and it can have lovely pippy knots. All of which make it a fabulous material for a variety of projects. It can be a bit temperamental, meaning it's not always the first choice for larger pieces. Having said that, we installed a matched set of bookcases in 2008 made from traditionally air-dried local oak, with no problems from movement whatsoever.

European Oak

   

Honey coloured, reliable and regularly grained. A modern staple. I tend to use Danish Oil and wax on European Oak. Traditionally and still sourced by importers and merchants from the Baltic states of Eastern Europe.

American White Oak

Very regular, straight-grained, great for a contemporary look and for projects where long or wide lengths mean stability is at a premium..

Chestnut

Or poor man's oak as its called for its resemblance to the grain structure, stability and durability. Like Oak it has a high tannin content, making it naturally resistant to rot and also unsuitable for fixings which contain iron.

Sycamore

Although now numerous in the UK, not really a native species as it was first introduced in the eighth century. Grows like a weed locally, supports relatively few fauna compared with natives like ash and oak and much disliked by gardeners.

But it does make distinctively pale and interesting furniture. Available locally - we currently have some nice wide, waney-edged boards sourced from Wentwood Forest in the racks.

European Walnut

Walnut is no longer readily available, which is a shame, though the odd tree does come up.

North American Black Walnut

   

Plantation grown and completely sustainable, its darkness and figure can be truly sensational, especially where the colour can tend toward deep purples with the figure flame-like or cloudy. Stunning. A real staple of the best cabinet making, I like using this most traditional of furniture materials in a modern context, for example the antelope dining chairs. In this case we twinned traditional navy blue leather and horsehair upholstery with walnut plus two rosewood backsplats. I love this combination of traditional and contemporary.

Yew

The great longevity of Yew - the oldest UK specimens being measured in thousands of years - led to it being worshipped by our pagan forebears. Indeed it's often found in churchyards because the Druids were worshipping the ancient tree long before the Christians pitched up to build their altars. Where better to build the church than on an existing sacred site. As a timber can be fantastically colourful and also difficult to work.