Unique hardwood properties
Each species of timber has it's own unique character and properties from being clean and non-tainting (an ideal surface for food preparation) to being naturally durable without the need for environmentally damaging chemical treatments. All timbers available from our Sawmill, Timber-shop and online store and can be used to make furniture, crafts or used as building materials plus more. If you would like to discuss your particular requirements further - contact us and we will be happy to help.
Keep reading to find out more about timber properties or click below to choose your preferred species.
More info available from 'Making the Grade'.
Strong and extremely durable
Uses include - construction both indoors and outdoors, furniture both indoor and outdoor, flooring, cabinetry, cladding, decking, waymarkers, fencing, gates, mantels, lintels, posts & beams, bar/work tops, panelling, veneers and craft work.
It is known for it’s golden yellowy brown colouring but Oak has variations depending on origin and grade and therefore a piece of natural Oak can take on a variety of hue; from light beige through dark brown, there is usually a clear distinction between heartwood and sapwood as it is generally lighter. Scottish Oak tends to be straight and uniform - exceptions are when quarter sawn or pippy/burry (cats paw)* which are extremely popular and sought after for the stunning unique grains produced. When cut quarter sawn the surface of the wood shows the attractive silvery figure of the medullary rays. Quarter sawn Oak is also much more structurally sound and resistant to cupping than timber that has been straight cut through and through. Scottish Oak works well but with moderate to severe blunting on blades, it stains and polishes well.
Scottish Wood has sold Oak for a multiple of purposes, including boat building, construction beams, restoration work, post and rail fencing, bridge-building, signs, waymarkers, mantles, lintels, board-walks, flooring, outdoor and indoor furniture, crafts etc.
Durability - Oak is extremely durable outdoors and does not need any preservative treatment. It is popular for outdoor fencing, gates, furniture and features especially in urban areas - both because there is no painting or maintenance requirements and also because of its high resistance to vandalism (cutting, sawing and burning).
Building material - Traditionally Oak was the main building timber in Europe including posts or beams, boards or roof shingles. It was also the main shipbuilding timber. Oak structures can and do last for centuries and there are churches in Scandinavia whose original Oak timbers are over 1000 years old.
Tannic Acid - Most parts of an Oak tree are full of tannins or tannic acids, Powerful chemicals that have the remarkable property of making skins and hides resistant to decay. Tannins in the wood make the heartwood exceptionally durable out of doors and without treatment. But they react to iron causing "inkstains" Can be ignored in rough outdoor work, but for indoor work Oak should always be secured with wooden pegs, brass screws or other metals containing no iron.
Medium to course texture
Resistant to splinting/splitting due to interlocking grain
Common uses include - flooring, wall panelling, furniture, kitchen work tops, table tops, boxes, baskets, hockey sticks, veneer, crafts, wood pulp, and papermaking.
Elm heartwood is light to medium warm brown and can be highly grained. Paler sapwood is usually well defined and can be quite a striking contrast against heartwood which is viewed as an attractive quality making it an extremely popular wood to work with. Elm is know for these exquisite grain patterns which can be drastically different, offering many variations including striking green in colourful Wych Elm and stunning unique detail in burrs/cats paw, a waney edge is also often sought for in Elm. Overall a beautiful warm brown coloured wood, highly grained and with a distinctive “partridge-breast” figure. Today it is most frequently used for furniture and is especially popular for it’s attractive and pleasing natural or waney edge. Elm also has some unique qualities that make it ideally suited for use in variety of specialist circumstances.
Elm, particulary Wych, is generally a strong timber, the grain has a stepped pattern in it's wood fibres - making it very resistant to splitting, with a somewhat coarse, uneven texture.
Elm machines well, (unless grain is irregular), it has moderate blunting effect and generally saws without issue, it also nails*, glues and finishes well. Rated as moderately durable it is less so than some hardwoods, though interestingly enough Elm is extremely durable, almost indefinitely once placed in water or below ground level. Living trees are susceptible to Dutch elm disease which has affected the supplies of this beautiful timber. The majority of our Elm stock has come from trees that have been killed by this disease.
*Due to it's grain growth pattern Elm end grain can be nailed/screwed without splitting unlike other hardwoods.
Good strength properties
Good properties for bending
Used for butchers blocks, in food preparation, kitchen cabinets, table/works tops, children's toys, furniture, flooring, wood panelling, turning and crafts.
Beech is pale brownish pink with some reddish heart, streaking & occasional spalting*, it has a fine even grain with small radial flecks visible. In general, Beech has a uniform appearance, with sapwood that can't be distinguished from heartwood. It is not durable but a heavy strong, hardwearing timber. It is clean, odourless and non tainting. Beech is easily worked with and can be glued, stained, polished well and is permeable to treatment.
Clean, odourless and non tainting- Beech timber is clean and odourless making it ideally suited for use in areas of food preparation and children’s toys. Traditionally it has been used to make tableware, plates and bowls and is currently popular for worktops.
Hardwearing flooring - Beech is very hardwearing making it ideal for flooring. It meets the British Standards for home grown hardwearing floors (i.e. floors coping with high levels of traffic such as in public buildings) along with Oak and Hornbeam. It is also the traditional wood for the construction of workbenches.
Easily worked Beech is easily worked in any direction, even across or at any angle to the grain. This is due to its even growth and lack of large pores or rays. It is also very stable once seasoned, ideal for steam bending and takes a stain well. This makes beech one of the most favoured woods for furniture.
*Spalting is rot in the wood while still in log form - this dark coloration of wood is caused by fungi colonising the wood and travelling up cells from the end or broken off branches, the fungi creates zone lines in the wood where territories meet - seen as dark dotting and markings/lines resulting in the most striking patterns! If the log is left and this process continues it can progress too far and cause the wood to soften and rot beyond use. Once milled the spalting process no longer continues. Most commonly seen in Beech but can occur in other timbers.
Resilient and durable
Often uses include; furniture, archery bows, veneers, cabinetry, carvings, decoration, musical instruments (lutes), and turned objects.
Technically not a hard wood but Yew has properties worthy of a hardwood, it's annual growth rings are so tight that it is usually harder and heavier than your average hardwood.
Yew, with it's lustrous smooth, fine texture is an extremely favoured, prized timber boasting a vibrant chestnut brown heartwood with streaks of orange and even purple contrasting richly with it's pale sap, tiny decorative pin knot clusters further enhance this stunning timbers appeal making it a clear favourite. Yew is heavy, very hard and firm, it is tough and elastic. Yew is not prone to shrinkage and has good stability. The wood is resistant to weather and not susceptible to fungal or insect infestation. It can be difficult to work with unless the grain is straight but glues, planes and sands well. Yew can take a stain and produces a brilliant smooth sheen once finished.
Yew produces a spectacular chestnut brown timber with streaks of orange and even purple, contrasting richly with the pale cream sapwood. Clusters of tiny very decorative pin knots further enhance this fine textured, smooth and lustrous wood making this a very sought after and prized timber.
Ornamental - The spectacular colouring of Yew makes it popular for all kinds of ornamental turnery or furniture construction.
Oldest trees - Yews are the oldest intact trees in Britain and are very slow growing (the oldest living tree is in Perthshire and is estimated to be over 5000 years old). Often found in Churchyards some predate the churches and probably have ancient religious significance. In Celtic culture Yew came to symbolise death and resurrection, no doubt due to the trees qualities of longevity and regeneration (drooping branches of old Yew trees can root and form new trunks where they touch the ground).
Non durable outdoors
Used for furniture, flooring, panelling, internal joinery, table/work tops, musical instruments, domestic utensils, boxes, wood burning/pyrography and crafts.
Sycamore is a plain but attractive timber popular for it pale lustred colouring that darkens to a golden colour over time and fine grain. It is usually straight grained but wavy or "rippled" grain can be found caused by varying grain direction. Sycamore has a subtle figure, with visible growth rings but few other distinguishing features*, the sap and heartwood are of the same colour and visual qualities. Sycamore demonstrates low stiffness, making it ideal for steam bending, it has medium to strong bending and crushing strength and Sycamore could be used structurally, but only indoors as both the heart and sap wood is classed as perishable. Overall Sycamore is easy to work with, cutting well in all directions and produces an excellent finish. It has moderate blunting effect, nails, glues, stains and polishes well. It also has excellent bending properties and can be easily stained which makes Sycamore an excellent choice for furniture and internal joinery. Clean, non-tainting properties – It’s clean white appearance and smooth finish means that Sycamore is ideal for use in food preparation areas like kitchen table tops, work tops and butchers blocks, rolling pins and bread boards (traditionally it was used for turned bowls, platters and tableware). It is also used to make rollers for textile machinery because it is both hardwearing and never stains the cloth.
*Depending on how the Sycamore is grown/it's conditions, the heartwood can be darker in colour - almost orange or brown. Marbling and flaming/spalting colour variations can often found, similar to those in Beech.
Fine and uniform texture
Popular uses; Carving, turning, furniture, table/work tops, boxes, veneer, musical instruments and crafts
Lime wood is a pale, even creamy/yellow colour with a straight grain and even texture. Lime is light to medium-weight, soft and tough and very rarely warps.. It has a fine and dense structure, it has low stiffness and shock resistance and doesn't split very easily - with medium bending and crushing strength. When dry the wood is stable it can be worked easily in all directions. Lime wood displays excellent carving properties making it ideal for shallow chip carving. Seasoned lime is very stable and is soft enough to be carved and yet firm enough to hold precisely cut surface well. Easily worked by machine and hand. Lime stains well and has good bonding properties.
Most lime wood sold by Scottish Wood goes for furniture production and carving.
"Tree with a thousand uses" - Lime is native to Britain, and in Roman times was know as the "tree with a thousand uses" from household and agricultural implements to shields. Traditionally the underbark or bast was soaked in water and beaten to produce a coarse fibre to make strong rope, fish nets and rough clothing. It also makes good quality charcoal and is said to be excellent for gunpowder.
It's stable properties have also made it the favourite wood for the construction of piano boards and keys and other parts of musical instruments.
Medium to course texture
Good properties for bending
Tough and flexible
Popular uses include; flooring, stairs, furniture, skirting, interior joinery, sports equipment, tool handles, cabinet making, table/work tops, turnery and crafts.
Ash is a highly grained, pale creamy wood with usually no distinction between the heart and sap wood though figure can be characterised by contrasting early and late growth, particularly in crown cut boards, some Ash can also contain a subtle olive grey to vivid colouring through the heart wood. Ash is favoured not only for it's looks but it's incredible strength, it is tougher than most other woods, it is often described as being as tough as Oak, though this does not extend to outdoors as Ash has low tolerance for ground contact. Ash can be split, and has fantastic bending qualities, when steam treated it can be bent without breaking or losing strength.
Ash is easy to work with, with moderate blunting on tools, sawing, cutting, peeling and turning is unproblematic. Ash finishes and stains well.
King of Trees; A tall deep-rooted tree, the Vikings considered Ash the king of trees with "its roots in hell and its branches reaching the heavens"
Naturally durable Scottish Larch is a hard strong timber with an attractive warm reddish brown or terracotta colour with gold streaks, which fades to silver after prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Natural strength and durability; Larch heartwood is strong and is durable outside without the use of preservatives. These properties make it an ideal wood for outdoor use such as garden furniture, decking, cladding and fencing. Larch is a more cost effective alternative to Oak. Traditionally boats were planked with European Larch and some timber still finds its way into quality boat building today.
Overlooked beauty; Traditionally valued for its strength and durability the beauty of this wood has often been overlooked. Larch works and finishes well however some care is required to accommodate the frequently changing grain and resin pockets. Once varnished or oiled the finished effect is well worth the effort.