About the Woods We Use...
White Oak, a prominent tree species in the Ozark foothills, is both water and rot resistant naturally, due to the tight cell structure. In the small community of Leslie, which our shop operates on the outskirts of, the white oak tree was once the dominate resource on which much of the growing town in the early 20th century relied on. Because of it's aforementioned properties, the H.D. Williams Cooperage Company created the largest barrel production factory in the world, creating white oak barrels for the storage of whiskeys, shipped many overseas for European wines. The cooperage company is now long gone, but the town and it's famous white oaks remain. It has a beautiful, light colored wood grain that makes it ideal for quality woodwork.
Maple, prized by the Native Americans for making baskets and furniture, this wood grain features an almost iridescent finish when polished. It is both a light-weight and light grained wood commonly used now-days for cutting boards and home decor.
Black Walnut, a North American continent native, was exported to Europe as early as the 17th century for its high-quality wood. Because of this superior quality, and rich, warm wood grain, Black Walnut is a favorite for both furniture makers and as stocks for rifle makers. It's such a quality, desired wood, that there have even been cases of Black Walnut poaching! We're fortunate enough to have a forest of it around us, and our sustainable harvesting practices ensure that that forest will still be there for generations to come.
Cherry, commonly known as Wild Cherry, is not the type of tree you pick the sweet fruit from. This tree produces small, tart berries, and a beautiful wood! Like the Black Walnut, Cherry is also prized in the furniture world for its premium wood grain and somewhat 'rosy' finish. It has a softer, more circular wood grain. The wood often starts off rather light when it is freshly cut and worked, but will oxidize over time to its famous rosy hue.
Osage Orange, also known as 'Bodark', is a very strong, rot-resistant wood prized for it's vibrant 'orange' tinged hue. It polishes beautifully to a lovely sheen and is often used for tool handles. The rich pigment can actually be extracted from the wood and be used as a dye. Quality, un-burled specimens of Osage Orange were valued for making bows once and it has been said that "In Arkansas, in the early 19th century, a good Osage bow was worth a horse and a blanket" (Keeler).
Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 186–189.