Timber Trails part 1


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Chris Knight

Established Member
14 Jan 2004
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SE London - NW Kent
I have no idea if there will be very many parts to this - however..

I went down to Wests near Petworth today (140 miles roundtrip) in search of oak and elm. I had said on the phone that I was primarily interested in square edged, having little room for long waney boards and not very keen on the wastage that can occur either.

The square edged I saw had just been received from Croatia. It was not very wide (7 - 8 inches in the one inch thickness stuff) had too many checks, and kinks and was too wet. - VERY disappointing.

The yard hands were great guys though and showed me some super French oak but all waney and a bit wetter than I wanted. It was about 20 inches wide in good straight pieces with very little wastage potential. I was very tempted but the moisture content put me off. I don't have the space to store boards that long (20 -30 ft), and I certainly don't want to layout and cut up stock on the driveway with the weather as it is and with the potential of warping as it dries in my shop - rendering all the layout work pointless anyway.

The elm was nice but I am not familiar with the wood and being confronted by all that twirly grain, misshapen trees etc. the wastage potential added up to a per cube price of walnut or cherry. It was very variable in moisture content too - some quite dry. other boards very wet. I chickened out.

I saw a few guys "measuring in" a recent arrival of cherry. Gosh, this was the stuff - absolutely gorgeous. waney edged but very straight and very little sapwood. It was American and quite the best cherry I have seen in ages. The hands told me that they preferred to buy cherry as waney edged stock over square edged because they did better on heartwood that way. Square edged was almost always coming in with one face and an edge as sapwood. In a related conversation about the oak, this was also noted and the suggested reason was that selective removal of quarter sawn stock simply left the sappy stuff behind and therefore available to sell in square edged packs. The moisture content was also very low - great boards!

I shall go tomorrow to Norwich to look at North Heigham Sawmills. I need to think more about the merits of waney edged boards and the merits of buying a flitch. Mind you, I am also looking at mahogany there and I can doubt there will be any flitches to see!


Established Member
19 Apr 2004
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North Lincolnshire
Chris, I sympathise with you on the wood trail, I too have been scouring the local countryside too. I'm only after some vg Douglas Fir to make french doors, Most of what I've seen is much to wet. There's no real timber mills or merchants round where I live (well, not that I know of). I was also looking for
WRC as well, and their quoting £30 cubic foot approx for both, which seems expensive.

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