Stiles and Bates
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Our Timber
We believe we are the only woodturning supplies business in the UK nuts enough to attempt an annual catalogue with a comprehensive range of blanks in both ‘Homegrown’ and ‘Exotic’ timbers.
Timber is the core of our business but with a customer database that has grown massively since 1996 and at a greater rate in recent years, inevitably, as demand grows, we do struggle to keep up from time to time despite buying several years ahead on most timbers. We are frequently asked about our timber so have made space to answer the most common queries.
Are S&B timbers from sustainable sources?
We hope so because we all depend upon them. As well as buying round logs from all over the UK, we import timber from Europe, the US, Australia, and through dedicated importers, from Africa and Asia, much of which is plantation grown or part of sustainable forestry schemes.
As timber traders, we are bound by law to comply with European Timber Regulations (EUTR) which came into force in 2013 and requires us to keep Chain of Custody and verification of the legality of all timbers we sell, whether of UK, European or world-wide origin.
Wherever possible, we buy FSC and PEFC certified timber and in the absence of this certification, make sure all the timber we buy as planks or round logs is from licensed and permitted felling.
We comply with the laws.
Why do you describe your timber as Homegrown or Exotic?
We copied others before us really. Temperate and Tropical would probably be more appropriate. Homegrown is used to describe British timber but now we are all [for now] Europeans, we apply it to all temperate hardwoods. Exotics are generally those from warmer climes, most often tropical.
Is S&B timber seasoned?
Most times yes, we only sell blanks we would be happy to turn, but the term ‘seasoned’ is a greatly misunderstood term so to answer more fully:
When we mill timber, it often has a moisture content (mc) of 50% (by weight) or even more. Over time, timber will balance to the surrounding air moisture and temperature.
In August in the UK, it will normally be about 16% mc. In December, it will be around 20%. In a centrally heated house, it will dry to between 8% and 10%, maybe lower.
Some cabinet makers specify timber kilned to this low mc, but for woodturning, many timbers this dry will turn like a digestive biscuit or can be brick hard, certainly more difficult to work on bowls and dishes than spindle work, so a little moisture helps and gives it some ‘life’.
We air dry and/or kiln our timber. We kiln to a minimum of around 14% so the major warping caused during the drying process has occurred before we saw it into blanks.
Even then, air or kiln dried, timber thicker than 2” is likely have a higher core mc, maybe 4% or more. We sometimes sell timber as ‘part seasoned’. This is timber that has been air dried for more than 6 months and will have a moisture content between 20% and 30%.
We buy in some ‘exotic’ timbers in various states of drying, from kiln dried to part seasoned.
The latter is often waxed all-over due to export or import regulations.
All of the part seasoned exotics in our catalogue are at least one year dried but because the wax coating slows the drying process, we still describe them as part seasoned.
Some of the exotic timbers have tenons or similar cut on the ends as part of schemes to provide local employment in the country of origin; a pointless process in truth but it satisfies a regulation.
Why do you wax the edges of your blanks?
To show off the colour of the wood and to protect the end grain from wild temperature fluctuations over which we have no control.
DALMANN Timbers from Mozambique
If one thing has changed over the past twenty years, it is the supply of sustainable timbers.
Back then, there were more than 120 different timbers we could drop on with just a phone call, but many of the UK and European importers have ceased trading and with political unrest, wars and eye-watering shipping charges, it is no longer so easy. And this applies to UK timbers too.
Linking up with Dalmanns last year was one of the best moves we have made in recent years. This year we have added two more of their timbers to our list and will be bringing in some spectacular plank slabs in other types to add to our plank store display.
Look out for the D symbol next to their timbers and do take a look at their website to see their credentials - we need more like them!


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14th June 2019
Our Timber

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2019 Stiles and Bates
Wednesday 17th July 2019