Timbers used in Furniture making

Timber is one of our most precious resources so we take care to buy and use it carefully and waste as little as possible. The gallery pieces, being of more compact dimensions usually make best use of the smaller pieces of wood which would otherwise be burnt All our suppliers trade ethically and ensure that all our wood is from sustainable sources.

I always use British or European hardwoods when I can but sometimes small amounts of more exotic timbers can enhance a piece. Here are some brief notes about the main woods I select for my furniture:


Although oak grows widely across Europe and North America, I prefer English oak for its beautiful grain and figure which tend to be more decorative and unique than in oak from elsewhere.

The heart wood of English oak ranges in colour from pale straw to dark honey brown. The flat cut boards will show the swirling patterns that result from cutting through the growth rings near their crest . Quarter sawn boards with medullary rays running parallel to the direction of the cut exhibit beautiful sliver figuring  and for this reason I normally choose them.


Sycamore is similar in appearance to maple being creamy white in colour although it is not as hard. The most prized sycamore is described as rippled which means there is a regular wave in the grain. Rippled sycamore when cut exhibits a stunning three-dimensional figure which becomes more pronounced after polishing so I will frequently use this for the front and tops of furniture.


Although Beech is a very plain timber it is susceptible to spalting. This is when a fungus attacks the growing tree with the result that the spores penetrate the wood in a random manner often giving rise to amazing decorative patterns (see example - left). I often use this as a decorative finish for my furniture.


Most British Elm now comes from Scotland. The best boards are those which display a lot of burr and these make a most attractive surface. Elm is an inherently unstable wood and is prone to distortion during drying so for this reason I do not usually use it for furniture construction itself, prefering to use the burrs as thick decorative veneers.


Valued for its beautiful appearance, toughness and flexibility, Ash is the ideal wood for furniture. Its flexibility and straight grain make it one of the best woods for forming curved components. The sap wood is indistinguishable from the heart wood which ranges in colour from pale cream to light straw.. Ash trees will often develop darker olive coloured wood around their heart while others show a brilliant rippled effect which I use for showy surfaces.


English walnut is considered to be one of the most beautiful timbers and is widely used for high class furniture. The sap wood, not normally used for furniture is a creamy white in contrast to the heart wood which ranges in colour from grey to dark brown. The timber is good to work with and will take a high polish.


Cherry is one of the few fruit woods commercially used in the UK for both furniture and joinery. The natural, warm lustre and attractive grain of English cherry set it apart as one of the most luxurious species from our native forests. The sap wood of cherry is a creamy white colour which contrasts with the light pink of the heart wood. English-grown cherry can develop green tints and streaks which add interest.


Maple has a heartwood that is uniformly pale reddish brown or light tan, the sapwood is white with a reddish tinge. It has a typically straight grain which can sometimes be wavy or curly, and a fine, even texture. Birds Eye and Rippled Maple are favourites for decorative finishes on furniture.

Spalted-Beech used in furniture making Back

Spalted Beech