SK Bushcraft Knives


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The Native Wood Selection

Every piece of wood has it`s own colouring and unique characteristics, so instead of showing you a 'wood colour chart', here is a brief description, some folklore and some other interesting information too - you never know, it may give you that winning point in the next pub quiz!!  If there is a particular wood you favour and its not listed, please let us know.

Ash - Fraxinus Excelsior
A very strong timber in terms of tensile strength.  Many butts have a core stained by 'black heart' otherwise known as 'olive'.  A very popular wood.
Before the coming of Christianity, the people of Scandinavia worshipped the Ash as a sacred tree, the symbol of life-force.  The Ash was supposed to have medicinal as well as mystical properties.  It was believed that if a sick child was passed through the cleft of an Ash tree, it would be cured.  Burning ash logs were said to drive out evil spirits from a room.

Beech - Fagus Sylvatica
The most widely used timber in the UK furniture industry.  The color of the timber varies greatly according to soil type - the local beech tends to have a core varying from dark brown to orange - but it is generally whitish to pale brown with characteristic flecks like tiny raspberry pips. The edible nuts are a source of oil, which was extracted on a large scale in Germany during the World Wars, and may be made into a kind of margarine.

Cherry - Prunus Avium
Freshly sawn wild cherry,  is pale brown with prominent streaks varying from darker brown to reds and even green, mellowing to a rich honey brown over time, with an almost translucent depth to the grain. Its fruit tends to be bitter, but it is one of the parents of most European cultivated cherries.

Elm - Ulmus Procera
Ironically, in establishing the Elm as one of our most familiar trees, man was also responsible for its susceptibility to disease.  To meet the demand of a stately looking tree, nurseries propagated a few such strains by taking the suckers that sprang up around the roots of selected trees.  All Britain`s Elms are therefore genetically similar, and any disease to which they have little resistance, can spread unchecked.  Dutch Elm disease, so called because it was first identified in Holland, entered the country in 1967 and has destroyed one in five of the timber trees of our hedgerows with 12 million English Elm trees being the victims.  A re-planting programme has secured the survival of the English Elm tree.

Maple - Acer Spp
A  pale honey brown timber with a pronounced and wider grain pattern. Maple wood is used also for violin making and forms the back, sides and neck of the instrument.  The rippled grain used for the backs is known as 'fiddle back'.  The supreme violin maker, Antonio Stradivarius (1644-1737), was the first to use a bridge of maple to support the strings.

Oak - Quercus Robur
Druids in Celtic Britain, held the Oak tree sacred, and gathered Mistletoe from its boughs for their sacred rites.  Ever since those days, the English Oak has been the 'king' of British trees.  Not for nothing did the botanists name it robur, 'sturdy', for until men devised iron cutting tools, the Oak resisted all attempts to fell it.

Spalted Beech - Fagus Sylvatica
Spalting is a modern term used to describe the decaying process in timber.  Our supplier Stiles & Bates, lay up prime beech and try to catch it just before the bacteria succeed in recycling it.  As the bacteria invade the timber, it takes on various shades of brown to pale cream with dark zone lines running throughout giving a beautiful grain to the wood.

Walnut - Juglans Regia
The heartwood varies from grey brown to dark brown, sometimes with striking black lines or even an orange tinge.  The sapwood is cream to pale brown.  The resemblance of the peeled nut to the human brain led to the medieval belief that it could cure mental disorders; this belief arose from the so called 'doctrine of signatures', according to which, preparations made from plants that looked like parts of the human body could be used to treat ailments affecting those parts.

Yew - Taxus Baccata
Good trees are becoming rare as the best are sold into the veneer market.  Pale to creamy white sapwood, heartwood varying from reddish brown through to bright orange with the odd streak of purple or green from some long ago nail or wire.  Minor shakes, knots and ingrown bark are part of the wild character of Yew and give the wonderful colour and texture. The elastic qualities of the close-grained yew were highly prized in the Middle Ages for making longbows such as those with which the English won the Battle of Agincourt.  Legends abound to explain the presence of Yews in churchyards.  In most European mythologies, the Yew was sacred, so the trees may have been planted at places of pagan worship before the early Christians built their churches on the same sites.