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Choose your wood!

October 18, 2015


I am often asked why I chose a particular wood to work with. 

There is no easy answer. The feel of the piece, the way the grain runs, the effect I can achieve with the finished article. There are lots of things to consider. You always have to keep in mind, that wood is a natural and living material, no two pieces will turn out the same, even if the process is identical, this adds to the challenge and the craftsmanship that makes Woodturning such an interesting and enjoyable process. 

Native irish Wood that I work with.

Ash / Fraxinus excelsior / Fuinseog: Ash is a large, common deciduous tree, probably the most common farmland tree. It is late to come into leaf (hence the Irish tradition that potatoes can be planted until you can no longer see through the tree). The wood is traditionally used to make hurleys. They can grow up to 45m high.

Yew / Taxus baccata / Iúr: Famously long lived, it is famously able to rejuvenate itself, an unusual trait in a conifer. Some trees in Ireland are believed to be up to 1,000 years old. Famously used in Britain to make longbows, the wood is durable and flexible


Birch / Betula pendula / Beith gheal: There are two species of birch in Ireland, silver birch and downy birch. Birch is a colonising tree, and is thought to be one of the first trees to have made it to Ireland after the last ice age; they are more tolerant of poor soils than most trees, and can act as a nurse species to other species which take longer to establish. They are quick growing, short lived, and grow to around 25 metres.


Occasionally I come across a piece of wood that is not native to Ireland, such as English Oak or mahogany, these are hardwoods and require a completely different skillset, and it is the mark of a good craftsman that with patience and perseverance, you can achieve amazing and beautiful results. 


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