Small logo Timbers Notes Page 2

Here's a list of the timbers I generally use, plus a few others. As with other 'thumbnail' pages, if you have Javascript and Popup Windows enabled you can click on a small picture to see the larger version in a popup. Otherwise use the links in the text to see the larger picture in the current window.

See Page 1 for details of price and availability notes, etc.

Mallee Burr One of several Australian burrs of the Eucalyptus family. A mid-brown colour with darker birds-eye spots and pale sapwood around the edge. See Coolibah Burr for more information.
Brown Mallee Burr Mallee Burr, Brown Another Mallee variety. This one isn't typical, as the tree seems to have been infected with Beefsteak virus (or the Australian equivalent), giving the wood a reddish colour, but it's the only photo I have. Normally it's a darker version of normal Mallee Burr (above). See Coolibah Burr for more information.
Red Mallee Burr 1 Red Mallee Burr 2 Mallee Burr, Red - Another variety of Mallee from Australia. This one is rather special, having a warm deep-red overall appearance, with dark red birds-eye spots surrounded by lighter red areas (see the carved bowl), which show as streaks of colour when cut into vertically (see the turned pot).
See Coolibah Burr for more information.
Red Fruit Mallee Burr Mallee Burr, Red Fruit Yet another Mallee, the 'red' in this case clearly refers to the fruit, not the wood. This one does have a pinkish tinge, but others can be a yellowish colour. The outer surface under the bark is quite spiky.
See Coolibah Burr for more information.
Mgurure Mgurure I don't know much about this timber, it isn't listed in my reference books or timber catalogues but I'm fairly sure it's African in origin. Fairly dark brown with darker stripes, takes a good finish if carefully turned, but prone to grain tearing. Although not as dark as Ebony or African Blackwood it's less expensive, and useful where a general 'dark wood' is required.
Price - Fairly expensive. Availability - generally available, and usually in stock in sizes for small boxes and spindle turning.
Myrtle Burr Myrtle Burr, Tasmanian Not to be confused with American Myrtle, the Tasmanian species has a fairly plain pink colour, though interestingly-figured pieces can sometimes be found. The burrs, on the other hand, can be attractive, with streaks and patches of pale pink and greyish-brown, though sometimes there's rather too much grey for my liking.
Price - Expensive, like all Australian/Tasmanian timbers. Availability - not something I generally buy due to the chances of getting a dull piece (you can't tell from the outside).
Oak Oak Generally a light tan colour, but can be darker. Distinctive medullary rays run across the growth rings, making this timber easily identifiable. Hard and heavy, usually quite coarse-grained but sometimes fine enough for small items like lace bobbins.
Price - Reasonable. Availability - generally available in a wide range of sizes.
Evergreen Oak 1 Evergreen Oak 2 Oak, Evergreen Also known as Holm Oak, this is harder and heavier than common Oak, and usually darker. It's still unmistakably Oak, though, with its distinctive medullary rays. The pear shows a fairly light piece, while the bowl is darker with pale medullary rays showing clearly.
Tends to split badly during seasoning, so it's not easy to get pieces suitable for large bowls etc. Takes a very good finish.
Price - Reasonable. Availability - not common. I have plenty left for small items, but no idea when I may find some more.
Spanish Olive Bowl Spanish Olive Box Olive, Spanish A rather impressive mostly pale-coloured timber, only available in quite small sizes due to the relatively small size of the Olive tree. The heart is generously streaked with dark brown, and the grain is often twisted, giving very attractive markings, as seen in the bowl. Even the gnarled bark has its own beauty - 'log bowls' like this are traditionally turned with very thin walls, but I left this one thick to show off the bark. The very fine grain allows turning of quite detailed items like the pictured box. Has a quite distinctive smell which is reduced once the wood is polished, and fades with age.
Price - expensive. Availability - generally available but I don't use a great deal of it.
Padauk Padauk, African Yes, it really is that red. To start with, anyway - as turned items age the colour deepens to a rich reddish-brown. Some pieces show very dark irregular lines. Has large capillary channels which show as tiny grooves in the turned surface. Not a pleasant timber to turn, managing to be dusty and oily at the same time, so it produces great quantities of red dust when turning, and clogs abrasives when sanding.
Price - Moderately expensive - one of the cheaper exotics. Availability - Fairly common.
Purpleheart Purpleheart Another of the more colourful and reasonably-priced exotics, from Central and South America. In contrast to Padauk above, Purpleheart actually gets more colourful when exposed to strong daylight.
Price - Moderately expensive. Availability - Fairly common.
Rosewood, Honduras Pinkish to purplish brown with irregular black markings. Splits very easily during seasoning, which is probably why it's not often found for sale. Only mentioned here because I make a few lace bobbins and pens from some badly split offcuts I obtained.
Price - Uncertain, probably quite expensive as it's a Rosewood. Availability - Uncommon.
Rosewood, Mexican See Bocote
Santos Rosewood Rosewood, Santos An exceptionally beautiful Rosewood from Bolivia. A warm fairly dark brown with darker lines throughout, takes a very good finish. Some people are badly affected by the dust from this when working with it, suffering breathing difficulties and/or skin rashes - fortunately I'm not one of them.
Price - Very expensive. Availability - Generally available.
Sonokeling Rosewood Rosewood, Sonokeling A very dark Rosewood from Indonesia. This species is actually plantation-grown Indian Rosewood, given a new name to distinguish it from the protected native Indian variety. Cultivation produces faster growth and more colourful timber - although it looks almost black from a distance or in poor light, it usually has many coloured bands of grey-brown and golden brown, plus narrow stripes of dark purple and dark red (not necessarily all in the same piece!). Best seen in good light to appreciate its true quality.
Price - You guessed - very expensive. Availability - Generally available.
Rowan Rowan Sometimes known as Mountain Ash. A pale timber similar in colour to Ash, but with a finer grain. Not at all common - this is the only Rowan wood I've seen, so I don't know if the dark brown heart is typical. Quite a nice timber, but tends to have odd dark marks in the wood, which could be mistaken for dirty patches except that they go deeply into the wood - the marks on the pictured bowl can be seen on both sides of the bowl walls.
Price - Probably similar to Ash. Availability - Not generally available commercially. I have a small tree drying, some of it I may turn while wet.
Snakewood A very hard, very beautiful and heavy timber from French Guiana. Its name comes from its snakeskin appearance, due to the presence of black spots, or stripes running across the grain, against a background of red-brown. It can be mottled, striped or speckled, depending on the configuration of the spots. It is generally priced by grade - the lowest grade (= least markings) is merely extremely expensive (two to three times the price of most Rosewoods, for example), while the price of well-marked timber is about 2,500 a cubic foot. Mastergrade (fully figured on all four sides of a square length) is nearly 2,700 per cubic foot. That's getting on for a hundred times the price of the cheaper native British timbers. Fortunately, the very small pieces sold as lace bobbin blanks are rather more reasonable - I suppose they're from offcuts which are of no other use.
Price - Probably the most expensive timber in the world (see text). Availability - Lace bobbins and similar-sized items only!
Sycamore A pale timber, almost white, often quite plain and uninteresting, but sometimes showing pleasant pale brown streaks and patches. These usually occur when the freshly-cut planks have been laid flat immediately instead of standing them upright to allow most of the moisture to drain before storing flat for seasoning or kiln drying.
Price - Relatively low. Availability - Generally available, but not something I use much.
Thuya Burr Thuya Burr - from the root of a Moroccan shrub, very attractive ginger colour with numerous tiny dark brown knots. Pungent smell which becomes very unpleasant when you're exposed to it for a while, and a ludicrous price, so I rarely use it. I managed to get some direct from an importer at a more reasonable price (very expensive rather that eye-wateringly so) and still have a couple of small pieces left, but it's unlikely that I'll be buying more.
Price - sit down before asking. Availability - Rare, export is strictly restricted, and I don't intend to buy any more due to the crazy price.
Tulipwood Tulipwood, Brazilian Not to be confused with American Tulipwood (a.k.a. American Whitewood), a totally different species which is far plainer and a lot cheaper. Brazilian Tulipwood is a yellowish or creamy pink with vivid irregular stripes varying from salmon pink to violet. It is hard and fairly fine-grained, which combined with its appearance and high price make it a timber for small decorative items.
Price - Very expensive. Availability - Generally available but too expensive for most items.
Utile Utile One of the Mahogany-like group of timbers, mid to dark brown, with a fine grain. Usually has few markings, though good light in the right direction can highlight subtle grain patterns.
Price - Moderately expensive - another of the cheaper exotics. Availability - Generally available but not something I use much.
Walnut, African
Walnut, American
English Walnut 1 English Walnut 2 Walnut, English Usually a fairly dark brown heartwood, as seen in the vase base, but sometimes a paler grey-brown like the thread lifter. Always well figured, and has a pale sapwood that can be very thick. Where it is exceptionally thick I sometimes use it with no heartwood, and describe it as 'White Walnut', but usually there is just enough of it to add contrast to items like the vase base.
Price - Moderately expensive, one of the dearer native timbers. Availability - Usually available, though less common than Ash, Oak etc.
Yellow Box Burr Yellow Box Burr Another Australian burr, I'm not sure if this is one of the Eucalyptus family like the Mallees and Coolibah but it's very similar. Golden brown with pale sapwood and a spiky outer surface.
See Coolibah Burr for more information.
York Gum Burr York Gum Burr Yet another Australian burr, as with Yellow Box I'm not sure if it's a Eucalyptus but it seems likely. The lighting used in this photo has distorted the colour - this bowl was sold a long time ago but I'm fairly sure it wasn't such a vivid golden colour, but more of a mid-brown.
See Coolibah Burr for more information.
Yew Bowl Yew Lamp Yew Probably my favourite British timber. Heartwood varies from pale orange to dark gingery orange-brown, with pink, purple and brown streaks and patches often present, along with small knots, often in clusters. Grain is generally twisty and/or wavy. Sapwood is totally distinct and almost pure white. The bowl shows a typical shade, some is quite a lot lighter than this. The lamp is an unusually dark piece, with some sapwood.
This timber looks beautiful and takes a good finish, but is very prone to splitting during seasoning. This applies particularly to thick boards, so it's very difficult to get suitable pieces for bowls and hollow items like lace pillow tidies.
Price - Reasonable. Availability - Quite common, but hard to get thick pieces with no splits.
Zebrano Zebrano A pale to mid-brown timber (the photo shows an unusually dark piece), with dark brown to black stripes and pale sapwood. Fairly coarse grain with visible capillary channels. Not very good for boxes but makes striking bowls. I sometimes use this for lace and needlework accessories, and some bobbins - it's usually too coarse for detailed Midlands bobbins but is quite good for the continental styles.
Price - Moderately expensive. Availability - Generally available.
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