Updated: May 8, 2019
From tall tree to tabletop - Let me explain...
On our About Us page we mentioned that every slab of wood we source has lived a life before it becomes your statement piece. It’s the reason we love working with speciality hardwoods - the tree itself will have had a rich history spanning 100+ years, and we get to continue the ancient craft of building beautiful things out of history’s greatest natural resource.
We select wood from sustainable suppliers dedicated to providing the best home-grown timber, and picking your slab is one of the most exciting first steps in the project.
What happens before the wood comes to our workshop?
The tree is chosen - Trees are carefully selected from responsibly managed forests at the right stage of maturity to be cut down. This process is called felling, and the person responsible for selecting and cutting down the tree is a Timber Feller (not to be confused with a Timber ‘fella’... #equality). In timber production wood is very rarely wasted, but thankfully if it is, wood is 100% biodegradable. """we also bag up the woodchips from our planning machine and give them to a local equestrian fanatic who uses them for bedding in the stables. mmm cosy""""
Logs are taken to the sawmill - The Sawmill Operator will use their years of experience to decide how the log should be cut in order to make the best use of its size, structure and character. It is then passed through the sawmill and cut into slabs. The way the log is cut will determine the aesthetics of your piece of furniture. There are different techniques of cutting against that will change the way you see the growth ring patterns in the final piece.
* Reading between the lines - did you know that specialists are looking at the growth rings in trees to better understand climate change? Trees provide us with years of data to understand our climate’s past (rainfall and changes in temperature), and may give us key clues as we look forward.
The slabs are dried - Something you may not know - hardwood takes a long time to dry. The rule of thumb is one year of drying time per each inch of slab thickness. If you tried to make furniture with a slab of wood that had just been cut, the moisture content would be too high, making your furniture more likely to warp, change shape and crack. Nowadays, wood can be dried in a kiln to speed up the end of the drying process, but only when the tree is at roughly 30% moisture content.
There is a downside to the kiln drying process. The end result of usable timber is reduced as the heat inside the kiln can warp the timber more than air drying for an extra year or so, resulting in a super stable/ furniture grade slab but more material to take off in our workshop flattening process.
The wood is ready for use - Once dried, slabs become available for excited Makers to drool over and buy!
We pick your slab - We’re all about attention to detail, so we don’t simply click and collect your slab like it’s a Dominos pizza. Whether we’re making something for the store or selecting a particular species for a bespoke commission, we take a dedicated trip to the woodyard. We’ll study the grain patterns and natural colouring of the wood to find the most striking slabs for the project.
We’ve taken you on a little history tour of the early stages of your furniture. Want to see what your finished piece might look like? Take a look at our portfolio. Or, if you want to come for a coffee and see for yourself, take a trip to our showroom in Kent.
We're dedicated to searching for the best timber suppliers we can, even if that means a coffee fuelled 4 hour drive in the Dark Iron delivery van. If there's a timber supplier that we should look into, please let us know in the comments below. We'll be forever gratefull.