Including WLW’s Oak Grading Rules, ‘Making the Grade’ a Guide to UK Grown species, French Grading rules and NHLA Grading Rules. Please scroll to the end for these guides.
We have listed some of the species we currently trade in, PLEASE NOTE, WE DO NOT NECESSARILY STOCK ALL SPECIES IN ALL SIZES BUT CAN GENERALLY SOURCE THEM. If the species you require is not here, please ask, our sales team will be able to help you.
Other names: frêne (French); gemeine Esche (German)
- Originates from Europe , Western Asia
- Light in colour – creamy to light tan. Heartwood and sapwood are not clearly distinguishable. Some specimens have streaking which is sold as Olive Ash.
- Non-durable, tough, heavy and dense timber, dries fairly rapidly and need care to avoid degradation of the timber. Straight grain, course texture. Excellent for steam bending.
- Wide range of uses including sports equipment, boat building and cabinet making. Internal use, polishes well.
Other names: white ash, Canadian ash (UK).
- Grows in Canada and USA
- Heartwood is grey brown, occasional red streaks. Generally straight grained, coarse texture. There are two other variants, black and brown ash which have similar properties but are darker in colour.
- Typically used for sports goods, joinery, boat building, kitchens. Internal use.
Other names: hêtre (France); buche (Germany)
- Grows widely across Europe
- Variety of shades in colour from a pale whitish colour to pinkish brown. There is a trend in other parts of Europe to steam Beech, which changes the colour to a darker reddish brown.
- Used for a wide range of uses, quality joinery, furniture manufacture, tool handles, flooring, plywood. Internal use.
Cedar of Lebanon
Other names: true cedar
- Found in UK and Middle East
- Brown in colour the sapwood contrasts distinctly with the heartwood, strongly scented and resinous. Usually straight grained with fine to medium texture. Durable
- Dries easily, only a slight tendency to move. Easy to work. Used for joinery, doors, gates, fences and outdoor furniture. Internal & External use. Soft and brittle with low strength ability.
Cedar, Western Red
Other names: British Columbia red cedar (UK), giant arborvitae, Pacific red cedar
- Originates: USA and Canada, introduced into UK and New Zealand
- Colour varies when fresh sawn from salmon pink to dark brown. Matures to a Reddish brown, in time changes to silver grey if untreated.
- Durable, but can be attacked by the common furniture beetle. Uses include shed and green house construction, shingles, cladding, exterior boarding, beehive construction, fences. Straight grained, coarsely textured with prominent growth rings. Works easily with hand and machine tools. Low crushing and bending strength.
Other names: merisier (France); kers (NL); kirsche (Germany)
- Originates from Europe, Western Asia
- Reddish/Pinkish Brown darkening with age.
- Straight grained with fairly fine and even texture. Sapwood is non-durable and can be attacked by powder post beetle, heartwood is moderately durable. Similar to Oak in its strength properties.
- Dries fairly quickly and can be vulnerable to warping and end-splitting if not treated with care, and therefore is used in smaller amounts for furniture manufacture, turnery, panel work and decorative joinery. Internal use
Other names: Black Cherry
- Grows in Canada and USA
- Colour varies from red to reddish brown. Has a fine straight and close grain. Fine texture. Heartwood is moderately durable.
- Used in quality joinery, cabinet making, boat interiors. Internal use.
Other names: châtaignier (France) edelkastanie (Germany)
- Widely found in Europe
- Colour pale to mid brown, similar to Oak without the silver rays, this is due to finer rays.
- Similar to Oak, the sapwood is non-durable, but the heartwood is very durable. It is difficult to dry and generally has a straight grain, with a coarse texture. Like Oak, it has an acidic character which tends to corrode metal when in damp conditions. Can have blue/black marking after contact with iron/steel.
- Used for furniture, kitchen utensils, cleft fencing, stakes. Internal & External use.
Other names: British Columbian pine, Oregon pine
- USA and Canada
- Heartwood light reddish-brown with sap being pale yellow. Straight grained but sometimes curly or wavy. The contrast between early and late wood provides prominent growth ring figure, which shows an abrupt colour contrast on plain sawn timber.
- Typically used for joinery work, roof trusses, laminated arches and beam. Moderately durable, but subject to beetle attack. Internal & External use.
Other names: orme (France); feldulme (Germany)
- In the UK it is only found in commercial quantities in Northern England and Scotland. This follows the decimation of Elm in the South of England in the 1970’s.
- Elm has a cross grain and a dull darkish brown appearance. This results in a very attractive figuring in the timber. Non-durable and subject to insect attack.
- Used extensively in the furniture trade, although availability due to Dutch Elm disease is limited. Is used for Furniture, Flooring and Weatherboarding amongst other uses. Internal & External use.
Other names: Grapiapunha, Pau Cetim (Brazil). Pau Cetim is often used locally to describe this wood, but it is misleading since it is also applied to Pau Amarelo, Euxylopora Paraensis. There is some similarity in appearance, but the timbers are unrelated.
- Grows in Argentine and Brazil.
- The sapwood is narrow and whitish in colour, while the heartwood is mainly yellowish, varying from yellow brown to pinkish- yellow, tending to acquire a reddish or coppery hue after exposure to the elements. The wood is lustrous, with a straight to roey grain and fine, uniform texture. The wood is hard, heavy, tough, and strong, and weighs from 800 to 960 kg/m3 when dry.
- Durable, easy to work and machine and finishes smooth
- Used generally for constructional purposes, decking etc. External use.
Other Names: Demerara Greenheart
- Guyana, Surinam, Brazil, Venezuela
- An evergreen tree, varies in colour from yellow-green to golden-yellow, light olive through to almost black. Texture is fine and even.
- Used extensively for sea defence work due to its high durability and resistance to marine borers. Also used for bridges, heavy duty flooring or decking.
Other names: framieré (France, Ivory Coast) emery (Ghana, UK)
- West Africa
- Heartwood is very pale yellow-brown. Grain is straight to slightly interlocked. Texture medium to fairly coarse. Generally works well, grain picks up when planing. Heartwood is durable, sapwood vulnerable to insect attack.
- Used for furniture and joinery. Internal & External use.
Other names: kambala, lusanga, rokko
- West & East Africa
- The colour of this timber can have a dramatic range from golden orange to mid to dark brown. Fairly coarse, moderately interlocked. Works satisfactorily with hand and power tools, but has abrasive properties that blunt tools quite quickly. Heartwood is durable, but sapwood vulnerable to insect attack.
- Used in the marine industry, interior and exterior joinery. Internal & External use.
Note: The colour of Iroko can be very deceptive, it does change from Yellow to Chocolate Brown very quickly. The Yellow is not a defect.
Other names: tilleul (France); linden (Germany)
- Found throughout Europe
- Colour ranges from creamy white to a yellow colour, straight grained and fine texture
- Lime is quite a soft hardwood and works easily with hand tools. Non-durable but permeable to preservable treatment.
- Used for carving due to its soft properties, used also in the musical instrument industry. Sometimes used for turnery. Used in the leather industry as it does not draw the knife. Internal use.
London Plane (Lacewood)
Other Names: European Plane. Lacewood
- Throughout Europe
- Heartwood reddish brown, with very conspicuous and numerous broad rays present on quartered face. This shows on the lighter background as a decorative fleck.
- Works well with hand and machine tools. Perishable, but is permeable to preservation treatment.
- Used for cabinetmaking, furniture, panelling and ornamental work. Good for woodturning.
Other names: Rock Maple
- Grows in Canada and USA
- Colour varies from pale cream to light tan. Straight grained, can sometimes be wavy or curly. Non-durable. Fine texture. Large trees sometimes have dark brown hearts.
- Has high resistance to abrasion and wear, suitable for flooring. Joinery, sports goods. Various other uses including butchers blocks. Internal use.
- From West Indies, Central & Northern South America.
- The heartwood can vary between light red to rose red when freshly cut, turning dark reddish brown on exposure.
- The texture is fine and uniform, the wood is hard, heavy and very dense. Difficult to dry. Has similar strength characteristics to Greenheart. Very durable. Is used in Heavy construction, bridges, heavy wear flooring/decking. Currently stocked as decking, but sawn stock is generally available.
Other Names: Chene (France), Eiche, Stielleiche (Germany)
- Europe, Turkey, North Africa
- Light tan to biscuit in colour.
- Usually straight grained, but irregular or cross grained material can occur depending on growth conditions. Characteristic silver grain figure on quartered surfaces. Dries very slowly, with a tendency to split and check. Heartwood very durable. The acidic nature of Oak can cause corrosion when in contact with metals, blue-black staining can occur in damp conditions when in contact with iron/steel, or when fresh sawn due to the chemical reaction with steel saws.
- Used for furniture, joinery.
W.L.West & Sons Ltd – European Oak Grading Rules
We aim to meet our customers needs to the best of our abilities. To assist customers in making the correct selection of grades, we have put together a guide to the grades of European Oak available. (Subject to availability) We created this guide prior to there being any formal guidance in the UK.
- Graded on 1 edge and 1 face with 2m x 150mm being the benchmark size
- Sap – no more than 10% of reverse face
- Knots of up to 25mm in diameter but no more than one per 2 metres
- Frequency of knots may be greater for thicknesses of 65mm & up
- Pin knots of up to 4mm, with an accumulative area not more than 50mm in 2 metres
- Some colouration
- No Brown stain
- Excludes – Shake and dead knots (and heart centre in square edge)
1 – 2 Grade
Some 1st quality, some 2nd quality-will include:
- Sap wood one face, no more than 25% of surface
- Sound knots, on no more than 25% of the width of the board
- Cross grain included, also ‘Cats Paw’ small growths/pin knots
- Can include some discolouration, brown streaking/colour allowed
- Excludes-shake, dead knots, & dead sap
More Species Descriptions
Oak, American White
Other names: Arizona oak
- Found in Eastern USA and Canada
- Colour can vary from pale yellow brown to biscuit, with a pinkish tint. Very similar to European oak. Straight grain with silver ray on quartered boards. Heartwood is durable.
- Used for flooring, cabinet and furniture making, joinery, barrel making. Internal & External use. Caution – sap on one face will make the species deteriorate in external applications.
Oak, American Red
Other names: Northern red oak, Canadian red oak
- Grows in Canada and USA, can also be found in Europe
- Similar to other oaks in colour, but also has a distinctive red tinge. Coarse texture, straight grain. Non-Durable.
- Used for flooring, furniture, internal joinery, plywood, veneers. Internal use.
Other Names: American Tulipwood, Tulipwood
- Eastern Canada & USA
- Pale olive-green to brown, can be light yellow to tan.
- Usually straight grained. Low resistance to shock loads, low bending strength. easy to work with hand and machine tools. It does not mould well, but is good for turnery and carving. Non-Durable.
- Furniture, interior joinery
Health Risk – dermatitis
Other names: Sapele mahogany, aboudikro, sapeli
- East, West and Central Africa
- Newly cut Sapele is often a pinkish colour, this darkens to a reddish-brown or purple-brown colour. Characterised by a well defined stripe on quartered surfaces. Grain is moderately interlocked. Moderately durable. Sapwood liable to insect attack. Works well with hand and power tools.
- Typically used for furniture, joinery, doors, worktops. Internal & External use.
Other Names: Redwood, Norway Fire, Scots Fir, Yellow Deal
- This species come from a wide geographical area
- When dry the heartwood is pale reddish-brown and resinous.
- It varies in strength, texture, density and number and size of knots. The annual rings are clearly marked by contrasted light early wood and dark late wood growths.
- Non-durable, used for furniture, joinery and building construction.
Southern Yellow Pine
Other Names: American Pitch Pine, Florida Longleaf Pine,
- Eastern Canada & USA
- Pale yellow to a light reddish brown in colour.
- Soft and very stable. Non-durable. Classified as weak in all strength categories.
- Has a variety of uses including, joinery and carpentry, furniture making and boat building.
Other names: plane (Scotland); érable sycomore (France); bergahorn (Germany)
- Found throughout Europe
- Colour ranges from white to creamy yellow. If not dried quickly enough after felling, a sliver grey effect takes place as a chemical change occurs with the sugars in the timber.
- Generally straight grained with a fine texture. Can be found with a wavy or rippled effect. This gives an attractive figure.
- Used for its white colour in flooring, furniture, turnery and musical instruments. Internal use.
Other names: Burma Teak
- Teak originally comes from Burma, Thailand and Java.
- It is a uniform golden brown colour without markings. Other Teak is rich brown with chocolate-brown markings. Indian Teak is wavy grained and mottled, but generally straight to wavy grained and coarse textured, oily to the touch. Plantation grown Teak is now being grown in various locations around the world.
- Very durable. Used extensively in the marine industry, interior and exterior joinery, flooring and garden furniture.
Note: Teak from Burma has an embargo on it due to the way the Burmese people are being treated by their government. Teak traded by us is from alternative sources and is plantation Teak. Sadly, this is not always as good a replacement as the Teak from Burma.
Other names: assié (Cameroon); sipo (Ivory Coast)
- Grows in West, East and Central Africa
- Pink-brown when first cut, it changes to a deep red-brown. Grain is interlocked to irregular. Produces wide striped figure on quartered surfaces. Moderate texture. Heavy density. Durable.
- Used for furniture and cabinet making, high quality joinery, work/counter tops. Internal & External use.
Other Names: Noyer (France) Nussbaum (Germany)
- Europe, Turkey, South West Asia
- European Walnut is very scarce in supply. Usually a grey brown with stripes of darker colouring irregularly distributed as streaks of darker brown.
- Moderately durable. This is a very attractive timber, used in veneer and furniture making, cabinetmaking, carving and many other uses.
Walnut, American Black
Other names: Virginia Walnut., Eastern Black Walnut
- Grows in Canada and USA
- Rich, dark brown to purplish black. Tough hard timber, medium density, coarse texture, straight grain. Heartwood is durable.
- Used for high quality joinery, furniture and cabinet making, boat building and for decorative veneers and inlays. Internal or External use – Note: sapwood not durable.
- PLEASE NOTE:Walnut trees are small in diameter which means that joinery sizes are difficult to obtain. The wood is variable and includes sapwood which is lighter in colour than the heartwood. The presence of sapwood and knots are not considered defects under the American Lumber Grading Rules.
Other names: if (France); eibe (Germany)
- Found throughout Europe, North Africa
- The sapwood and heartwood are strikingly different, with the sapwood being white and the heartwood dark golden orange brown, sometimes streaked with a purple. The grain is straight, but normally has clusters of knots and is wavy. Durable.
- Used traditionally for bow staves by English Bowmen, it is used for turnery, joinery and furniture making. Internal & External use.
Health Risk – toxic to Humans, always use a good dust mask
NHLA Grading Rules
The National Hardwood Lumber Association of America publish clear rules on the grading of timber. Press the ‘download button’ to obtain a copy.
Making the Grade
A guide to UK hardwood timber, compiled by a variety of contributors from the UK timber industry including W.L.West & Sons Ltd. It was sponsored by: The Forestry Commission, Scottish Enterprise, WDA, Welsh Assembly Government, The Scottish Forestry Trust, Forest Service, European Commission & England Forest Industries Partnership. Press the download button for a copy, the file is quite large, so please be patient.
Fence Grading Rules
French grading rules as published by APECF—Association Pour la Promotion des Emplois du Chêne et du Hêtre Français.
Machining profiles and complex shapes is second nature to us. Whether new or to match historic mouldings we can help.
Beams & Constructional Timbers
We are able to offer planed beams, beam end scroll cutting as well as braces to customer templates.