Pay It Back


During the commissioning process I would introduce you to different woods, both through books and physical samples, enabling you to see and feel the options available.  As a taster to whet your appetite and start you thinking about what you might like, there is a list below with some photos and comments on some of the woods that I have used.

As you can imagine there are hundreds of different species of wood available and used by furniture makers to create some truly stunning pieces.  There are also just as many sources of information on the different types of wood.  If you are interested in knowing more, one that gives a very informative overview is “The Real Wood Bible: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Choosing and Using 100 Decorative Woods” by Nick Gibbs (ISBN: 1-55407-033-3, Quatro Publishing Plc).

Introduction to Different Woods

African Padauk
A tropical hardwood found in Central and West Africa with a deep red colour that turns to a purple brown relatively quickly. Very easy to work although the red dust seems to get into every item of clothing.
American White Ash
A lovely wood that is instantly recognisable from its open grain and rows of little open pores that shine through any finish. Ash can sometimes be affected by fungus, similar to Brown Oak, giving rise to ‘Olive Ash’, a mix of white and dark brown streaks in the wood.
American Cherry
When finish is applied to American Cherry it turns a lovely deep orange colour with a red tint running through it.  The colour makes it quite distinctive and it is lovely to work.  I have seen the equally stunning European Cherry take on a similar orange colour yet the tint running through it is a very pleasing green as opposed to red.
American Black Walnut
This is one of my favourite woods not only because it works like soft butter, but because there is a sensual transformation when a coat of finish is applied transforming it from a milk chocolate to a rich dark chocolate colour.
Brazilian Mahogany
Although less consistent in texture and grain, Brazilian Mahogany is the best alternative to the near-extinct Cuban Mahogany. The deep red-orange mahogany colour makes this an attractive wood to use.
Brazilian Rosewood
This is one of the kings of wood. A relatively straight grain and colours ranging from light honey to very dark brown give this wood a striking appearance and instant appeal. Although one of the prized timbers, Brazillian Rosewood must be very carefully sourced and used with respect as it is severely endangered.
This hardwood, also known as African Rosewood, often has a wild look due to the purple-black streaks that run through brown red core of the wood. A tough and heavy wood that is a pleasure to work even with its open and coarse grain. Bubinga is a very good alternative to the more traditional rosewoods.
Cedar of Lebanon
This is a softwood used mainly for drawer and box lining.  Its fantastic characteristic is the smell, which if you spend a morning cutting boards in the workshop can be quite overpowering.  The smell does dull slowly with time and the cedar is coated with a thin layer of shellac to partly seal it and ensure the whole house is not affected.
Ceylon Satinwood
This wood gives the impression of being impregnated with millions of miniscule gold freckles that glisten as the light hits it. A very heavy wood and not that easy to work, yet its stability, subtle patterning and colour make it a very sought after wood. There are some reports of overexploitation so sourcing must be done with care.
Cocobolo, Rosewood native to Central America
I used this for the Ring Box as it looks remarkable and carves relatively easily.  What I also adore is the smell of the sawdust.  Rosewood has quite a distinctive smell but Cocobolo has an enhanced version which is very addictive making working with it very pleasurable.  The transformation upon finishing is also striking as the deep colours of the wood are enhanced.  Like all Rosewoods of the Dalbergia family, responsible sourcing is important.
Columbian Rosewood
A lovely pink and relatively straight grained wood that works easily. Dark streaks and piths can appear in the wood which create a lovely contrasting feature to the rich rose colour. As with all rosewoods, the beauty of the wood must not be taken for granted and responsible sourcing is important.
Cuban Mahogany
With a fantastic colour, texture, grain and stability, Cuban Mahogany is a wood that was used to near extinction over the past five centuries and is proving very difficult to regenerate in plantation. Although other mahoganies are available, the superiority of Cuban Mahogany has not yet been matched. Sourcing is now nearly only from recycling existing furniture, an example why it is important to have bodies who certify wood stock.
European Beech
This wood is at the top of my hate list.  Although fairly easy to work it has a fascinating ability to move as you are working it which never fails to amaze me.  To my frustration I have had this warp in the time it takes to get a cup of tea.  It does however take a finish very well.
European Brown Oak
Brown Oak is simply European Oak (see below) that has been affected by a fungal infection originating at the pith, or centre, of the tree. This infection results in a rich brown colour that looses intensity towards the outside of the tree leading to a varied mix in colour between the rich brown and the usual white-golden brown of European Oak.
European Oak
European Oak is lovely to work and although its coarse grain means that the wood is fairly porous, it also often contains distinctive medullary rays which make each piece unique and different.
European Sycamore
This is a lovely wood that, if dried properly, is as close to white as wood can get.  Every so often there are dark impregnations that are annoyingly sometimes deep in the plank you are working on but it is a lovely wood to work.  The trick is keeping it white on finishing as some finishes can give a slightly yellowish tint to wood.
European Walnut
Like its American counterpart, European Walnut works very nicely and when finished undergoes the same transformation into a sensual deep brown-golden colour although with less hints of redness running through it. English Walnut, which is more difficult to find, will undertake a similar transformation however the colour is not as dark and includes glorious shades of silver which are striking to see.
Gonçalo Alves (Tigerwood), from Brazil
This wood is unusual due to the randomly placed dark streaks present in the red-gold core but used well can be very warm.  All woods like this need to be considered carefully, as they can quickly become overpowering if over used or not balanced.
Although very commonly used as a constructional timber it is relatively nice to work and a wood that, with relatively little time and exposure to sunlight, goes from its original deep golden colour to dark brown.
Macassar Ebony
Like Brazilian Rosewood, Macassar Ebony is a very luxurious and eye-catching wood with stripes very dark brown and black mixed with bands of yellow-beige. It must be very carefully sourced as it is one of the rarest and most expensive woods, and like many in this category, often used for veneers to increase the yield.
True to its name this wood is purple except when it is worked where it turns a horrid brown colour but rapidly recovers to purple. The interlocking grain means that this is not the easiest of woods to work with. It is possibly for this reason, as well as its distinctive colour, that Purpleheart is not a commonly used wood, but when used well can be very striking.
A cousin of Brazilian Mahogany which is often used as a utility timber. The grain and colour is similar with the exception of some dark bands that, unless made into a feature, can be unattractive.
Steamed Pear
Pear is a wood that works like butter and remains stable when dried giving joy to any cabinet-maker. Pear is often steamed to enhance the pale brown-pink colour results in an almost creamy texture when finished.
Sonekeling, Rosewood native to India
Sonekling is one of the more difficult Rosewoods to work with an ability to dull a blade very quickly.  However, the beauty of the wood means you rapidly forget the effort.  Like all Rosewoods of the Dalbergia family, responsible sourcing is important.
Sugar Maple
Maple is a strong dense wood that can blunt a plane blade very quickly.  However, the flip side is that a glass like finish to a face can be obtained from a very sharp blade. 
A very interesting and unusual timber with a coarse but straight and even grain that planes to a wonderfully smooth finish. Some people leave it unfinished as its dark brown colour with paler veins running through it darken when finished almost transforming it to another timber altogether.
This is a fun wood, although it has been classed as potentially vulnerable so sourcing is crucial, it can be used in interesting ways which use the bands of dark and light grain.  Like all woods that have strong patterns or contrasting colours their use must be thought out carefully so as to not become too overpowering.

Figured Woods and Burrs

Some woods can be affected by fungus, diseases or abnormal growth. These changes in the normal growth of the tree create a series of “special effects” that can be used very decoratively in furniture making. Figuring in wood can give rise to woods like Rippled Sycamore, Bird’s-eye Maple and Lacewood (commonly found in London Plane). Growths, called burrs, give very decorative patterns as shown in the examples of American Black Walnut Burr, Maple Burr, Oak Burr, European Elm Burr, Madrone Burr, White Ash Burr, Lacewood Burr, Maple Cluster (a combination of bird’s-eye maple and quilted maple), Amboyna Burr (from Andaman Padauk) and European Walnut Burr. Diseased woods can also give very decorative yet more random effects such as in Karelian Birch.

If it is appropriate to the piece I love to use these decorative abnormalities to add a real individuality and exclusivity to the piece that is created.



Jean-Damien Lury | +44 (0) 7921 404 199
jean-damien@luryfurniture.com | Skype Name: jdlury-luryfurniture
Lury Furniture