Look at all this timber!

12 April 2013, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

I had a call last week from a local country estate, asking if I was interested in some yew trees, which had just been felled – you bet I am! Just a quick look at all those sold pieces on my website will give an idea of what people like the most!

It is almost imperative that I collect yew timber when it’s green, or felled within a month or two. The wavy natural edge, which makes yew bowls so distinctive, is the outer surface of the tree and this can deteriorate if left in the sun for too long. The bark will dry too quickly and flake off, leaving the bare wood to soak up the rays and develop rather unsightly cracks.

Armed with my chainsaws, fuel and a friend (plus his landrover and trailer!) I arrived at the estate, to be greeted by a spread of lovely yew trees along the side of a track – a wood turners dream come true! However, I was less than impressed by the size of the mini digger, which had been hired to lift them on! I guess there’s no such thing as a perfect day…

Yew trees galore!


A small digger playing with a big tree…



The first few on the trailer...


Loaded and nearly ready to go...


After a bit of cutting and pushing, we loaded the smaller bits first and left the two larger ones for the second journey. Moving them is a tricky business, since any scuffs and marks on the outside, will render those sections unusable for natural edge bowls – yes I am very fussy! I knew the large ones would have to be cut in half, but this is unavoidable. Even as a wood turner, I still like to plank the pieces which most deserve it, but only when the opportunity arises.

The two loads totalled about four and a half tons – this should make a lot of bowls! I’ve already chainsawed some of it ready for rough turning and am blown away with the quality. There is no heart shake at all, something of a rarity in yew and the colours are stunning. When I process the next tree for rough turning, I’ll make sure I post some photo’s.

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

Your comments

  1. Gravatar of Steve Hall
    Steve Hall17 April 2013 10:42

    That's a great looking yew Jonathan. Have you ever considered selling blanks to woodturners? I find it difficult to find anywhere to get hold of recently felled timber down this way (South West) So I only turn blanks that are kiln dried and waxed etc.

  2. Gravatar of jonathan leech
    jonathan leech17 April 2013 16:04

    Hi Steve,
    I have often considered selling blanks and have a large selection of different timber - if you are in the area, please call in. I can happily post, but green timber is very heavy! I also have a very large selection of pre turned blanks, which are part seasoned. Do you have a favorite timber?

  3. Gravatar of Steve
    Steve 18 April 2013 07:33

    Maybe I'll try to get up that way when I'm off in the summer. My favourite timbers are, Yew (mainly because of the wide range of colours and the fact that you never know whats inside!) also I like Elm and Walnut

  4. Gravatar of Jonathan
    Jonathan21 April 2013 20:11

    Hi Steve,
    That's great - any day will be fine, just let me know when you're coming. I will also be holding my open studio in September and will be posting details soon.

Leave a comment

Post comment

Featured work

Hand, made, rustic, natural, edge, yew, wooden, bowl

Featured posts

Posts by month