Wood comes from trees. Yes I know you knew that but just think about it for a minute. That means it is a material that was once alive. It was part of a tree and so subject to the seasons and weather that tree experienced through its lifetime. You may know that the rings inside a tree mark each year’s growth. In good growing years the ring is wider, as the tree grows more. In bad growing years the ring is narrow as it grows less. Thus the tree’s history can be seen in its unique ring pattern. The trees location effects its growth, the number and position of branches and its eventual shape. It can also be marked by disease, bugs or fungus. This means each tree is completely unique and by extension so is each piece of wood. Your wood has its life story written right through it. Much like the wrinkles on an old face, this is where its character is.
When new and unfinished, oak will naturally appear quite light with a slightly yellowed hue. All woods however can have significant colour variation from one piece to another, as with any natural product. Over time, sunlight will cause the wood to darken and mellow throughout its life. Oils in the skin will accelerate this process with any areas that are regularly touched, gaining a noticeably darker tint.
Compared to oak, walnut is quite dark when first cut, especially the American black walnut varieties. Sunlight will cause walnut to lighten overtime, often bleaching into a light brown, with perhaps a slightly red tint to it.
In all other respects, walnut behaves much in the same way as oak (see above).
Ash behaves in all respects nearly identically to oak, the main difference is ash has a slightly narrower grain. It starts off very pale and again, as with oak, ash will darken over time. The grain also becomes more pronounced.
The colour can vary from creamy white to a very pale tan; it may darken to a pale pink or pale brown. It has a straight grain with a fine even texture and a characteristic fleck.
Colour tends to be a light cream to yellow, which tends to darken slightly with prolonged exposure to light. Boxwood has a fine, even texture with a natural lustre. The grain tends to be straight or slightly irregular. Boxwood’s ability to hold crisp details, in combination with its colour and silky-fine texture truly make it a classic.
Spalted Silver Birch
The wood has a silky lustrous appearance and delicate grain pattern. The ‘spalting’ is caused by invading fungi. These fungi are stopped when the wood is dried. This creates dramatic colouring and patterning effects. It mellows to a light tan after a while, but retains its natural lustre.
Sapwood is usually a thin band of pale yellow or tan colour, while the heartwood is an orangish brown, sometimes with a darker brown or purplish hue. Colour tends to darken with age. Grain is straight, with a fine uniform texture. Good natural lustre.
Some of my collections include stained versions of the woods described above, usually in Ash or Beech, adding colour and a little more protection.
Staining also adds a greater level of colour control, however, there will still be some level of natural variation between pieces.
Finish: My pieces are either finished:
- by sanding silky smooth and leaving completely natural,
- with a protective nourishing, food safe, eco-friendly hemp oil or
- with a more durable eco-friendly wax oil.
These are all healthy, easy to care for finishes that don’t compromise the natural beauty of the wood grain.
Care: solid wood may expand and shrink with differences in temperature and humidity. Take care not to place your wooden item on top of, above or next to radiators or anywhere subject to excessive changes in temperature or moisture content. Avoid the dishwasher.
In the event of any spillages, wipe up all liquids as soon as possible before the liquid has the opportunity to soak into the wood.
Cleaning: to clean, wipe with a damp cloth before buffing with a dry cloth. Silicone based polishes should not be used on the wood as they will build up and leave a sticky residue on the surface.
Treat your wooden item with care and respect and it will grow old as gracefully as I hope you will.