Wood Philosophy

The Jenkins Woodworking philosophy of sustainable wood for use in spindle making.

We do our best to be conscious of the environment and natural habitats. Ed has spent quite a bit of time researching wood sources, tracking down and talking with wood dealers in an effort to find those who buy only products that have been harvested legally – and even more importantly – with long-term sustainability practices so we can purchase the wood we use with good conscience.

We love using local woods which Ed gets directly from farmers we know who practice good woodlot management. All the walnut that we use is grown in the US, much of it obtained from our area in Oregon. Quilted Big Leaf Maple is from trees native to the Pacific Northwest native. The Big Leaf Maple is so prolific in some areas that it’s considered a “weed” tree.. A farmer just up the road has Big Leaf Maple trees scattered across his vast, hilly acreage.He selectively harvests individual trees which he mills himself. Ed then stores it in a dry truck unit until the water content has been released and the wood is cured and stable.

Ed keeps his eyes out for people cutting down old Lilac, Boxwood shrubs and Holly trees. For the pieces to be big enough to use the plant is typically over 100 years old and being culled due to storm damage, rot and occasionally owner allergies.

Osage Orange is native to Midwestern United States as well as Argentina. It is a very durable, dense wood – perhaps the hardest wood in N. America – with qualities that made it sought after by Native Americans to use in bow making and clubs. The trees have thorns making it a formidable barrier which was used extensively throughout the lower plains states as wind breaks and for natural fencing until the development of barbed wire. Osage Orange has also been used for artificial limbs and ball bearings due to its strength and durability.

The term exotic only refers to the fact that it is not native, or common, to North America (with the exception of Osage Orange). Perhaps I should use the term non-native hardwood rather than exotic.

Pink Ivory is a common fruit tree in SE Africa. Amboyna Burl and Beeswing Narra are from the same tree which is planted along boulevards throughout SE Asia. Both of these woods are getting very expensive and hard to find.
Ebony is from African plantations.

Bolivian Rosewood, Cocobolo and Purpleheart, to name a few, which plantations and loggers practicing conscientious methods on controlled woodlots in Mexico and Central America. Ed has personally talked with wood buyers who make their living importing legal timber. They are careful as to where and from whom they obtain the wood; buying only from plantations using sound harvesting methods since they do not want to import something illegal that could potentially shut them down.

Snakewood, the rarest wood Ed occasionally is able to buy, comes from carefully guarded trees which grow deep in the jungles of Suriname. The government has very strict regulations in the harvesting of the wood: It can be harvested only during three months each year; all harvesting is done manually, no heavy equipment in allowed in that area of the jungle. People literally walk many miles carrying the wood on their backs after which it is inspected before it’s allowed to be sent to the market.

In wood harvesting throughout the world, the biggest issue is the need for ongoing education. We have a friend who grew up in the Amazon rain forest and first hand watched, and helped, the indigenous people annually practiced slash-burning to plant crops of manioc – their staple food. This is a centuries old practice and great, ongoing, effort has been made to teach them to selectively cut and replant new trees after the manioc harvest that rather than simply burn the forest, thereby providing a living for their family while looking ahead to the future. Without the ability for some indigenous people to selectively harvest and replant, these people groups would literally starve to death. They have to work with what they have, where they live; yet at the same time it’s crucial that long-term management and harvesting is not denied but carefully taught and encouraged. It is a delicate balance.

We have a sylvaculturist friend who studies and practicing the effects of selective harvesting and planting wisely for the long term, using models from Europe where some areas have practiced tree management through many generations with the goal of making their woodlots to be viable and healthy 400 years in the future. This is the attitude and practice we support and encourage.

Fine wood tools for fiber artists.