I prefer to use locally sourced, sustainably grown woods. Typically that means a lot of ash, a fair amount of oak, some wild cherry, alder, yew and some smaller trunked species such as hawthorn and hazel. I search for oddly grown pieces, or choose forks in the trunk or where branches emerge from knots. Anything that will add a bit of character to the final piece.
I have a pile of wood I've gathered from may different places. It's got all sorts including what's left of my favourite piece of wood of all time - a damson branch from just up the road. Not big enough for anything substantial but a truly magnificent timber - though you would know from looking at it. On a lathe it becomes rich, purple streaked and glorious. One of the pleasures of turning is taking what can often be a rather underwhelming log or plank and transforming it into something special.
This plank on the right, for example, is from and oak tree that came down about 200 yards from my house. I was given it for helping out turning the tree it came from into lumber. It has been sitting around for a couple of years, warping and drying. I'm not yet sure what it will become, I'm just waiting for the right commission or inspiration.
However, finding that type of wood is not always easy. So I do buy in timber from time to time. I tend to go to auctions and look out for the awkward and unusual lots that others might ignore. Not only do you often get a bargain but you can also find some really interesting wood. I've recently been commisioned to make a breadboard which I did out of hard maple I bought about four years ago. Hard is an understatement, it took a lot of patience and a lot of blunt tools but it is, at least in my view, a stunning piece. I hope the person who commissioned it thinks so too.
"Wood does not need embellishing, merely revealing"
All text and images copyright Toby Murcott 2013.
"Each bowl is unique The feel of the tool on the wood, the aroma of the shavings, the shape that emerges is always different.
My speciality is simple, clean lines and elegant curves. No harsh angles and no unnecessary detail. Wood does not need embellishing, merely revealing."