Ebony and Ivory

…Live together on really expensive old pianos but no longer have any place on contemporary furniture. And hurray for that!

It’s come to our notice that fewer and fewer people are interested in exotic hardwoods, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in interesting hardwoods. This has had an unforeseen effect on the projects themselves.

At the risk of generalising, interesting and oft-forgotten woods are typically less expensive than the old school exotics. A reduction in the materials cost of any project is always a good thing, and I can think of three scenarios where this helps us as cabinetmakers.

For our better heeled clients with a good budget it means more of their money can go into the making of the piece. This might mean the addition of a drawer, or the inclusion of hand cut dovetails. It could be a finer marble top, or an extra chair to go with a table. 

On the plus side

As the price of certain woods, like American Black Walnut, go through the roof (in the UK it has more than doubled in 5 years), so other timbers are becoming introduced and appreciated. Olive Ash, Ripple Maple, Elm and Yew are increasingly sought after as their price no longer looks on the lumpy side.

Finally, and possibly most happily of all, woods that may have been overlooked at in the past, like regular Ash, Sapele and even Iroko, are now being considered for important projects. Better than that, the prices of these woods are so attractive that they can bring the pricing point of a project down to the level of a far wider audience.

It fills our hearts to know that not only is there a greater appreciation of the work done by people working in the crafts industries, there is also a greater number of people who can afford to buy what we do. 

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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