Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Hawthorn & Elder

We were demonstrating at a show near St Albans on Saturday at the Woodland Trust's HeARTwood Summer Festival.  A young furniture maker (power tools) called Ben asked if I ever used Hornbeam.  "Only when it's really freshly felled," I replied, "or you find out why it's called Hornbeam!"  Apparently he'd been dropped off some logs by a local tree surgeon, didn't count on using them and offered them to me.  About an hour later he came back with the largest log which I could see straight away was actually Hawthorn.  Great, even better, I love it for turning and spoon carving - a very dense, hard and pinkish wood.
Jed added the tennis ball for scale
This is typical of the hit-and-miss way I source my timber - someone else also gave me a nice Hawthorn log only the other week (he also gave me a lovely piece of Apple and a Laburnum log - thanks Mark).  So now everything will be made of that for a while as it was from Catalpa earlier in the summer.  I've had a load of Sweet Chestnut for the courses this year but now I'm bored of that and fed up with cleaning the purple gunk off the tools.  I found a nice Ash log stuffed under a hedge in the Abbey Gardens last week but I would be happy if I could find a more regular, reliable supply.

I notice that in Mike Abbott's latest book 'Going with the Grain' he notes two suppliers of chairmaking Ash but only in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.  Wouldn't it be good if there was a nationwide directory of people who are willing to sell logs of different species of timber to green woodworkers?  I'm willing to compile such an index and would be grateful for the names of any woodland owners, tree surgeons, wildlife organisations etc that I could add.

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On a different note this Elder tree doesn't seem to know whether it's coming or going at the moment, bearing both ripe fruit and fresh blossom at the same time...?


Sean Hellman said...

I have noticed this on some elder trees as well, for the last month or so, flowers right on top of the shrub, with the berries below coming on nicely

Elaine said...

I've just been browsing round your blog and this entry caught my eye.

You see, I am the Secretary for a Scout Campsite called Danemead that is just down the road from you at Broxbourne, Herts. Its website is at :

The site is an SSSI site and we manage it under guidaance with Engish Nature. This does involve some tree work on an almost ongoing basis. We will soon be undertaking a small building project for a new toilet block that requires that two oaks be taken down.

As a Scout Campsite, always short of money, especially given that we're trying to fund this toilet block, selling the wood we prune is something we'd like to do and selling it to local craftspeople would be great.

I haven't got the full details of the timber involved but if you, or someone you know, is interested, I can get more details for you. You can see my email address in my profile. :)


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