I’ve been experimenting today with a Japanese wood preserving technique called “yakisugi” which involves charring wood to make it more durable.

It all stems from trying to find more natural, low-impact processes for my products. Most carved signs are made from oak, a very durable wood, but oak needs protecting with oil or varnish as it tends to go black when wet, and also needs UV protection to keep it looking good. These products are pretty nasty for us and the environment and they also need re-applying regularly.

So I was looking for an alternative.

My answer came in the form of larch, a durable softwood grown here in Scotland and much more plentiful and sustainable than oak. It chars very well and takes on a lovely deep hue. The charring makes it much more water resistant and also protects against insects.

I charred the larch, then gave it a good clean and stiff brush which leaves a beautiful and tactile texture. When carved the letters really stand out although they will soon fade to a silvery grey colour. There’s no need for ongoing maintenance of the sign, although all wood used outside will love the odd coat of oil every now and again. A pure, all-natural oil such as Tung oil is all that is needed, rubbed in with a cloth.

This is the first sign I’ve made of this type and it’s for our new house. I look forward to seeing how it weathers and ages. I’ll report back on how it lasted in 20 years or so!

These signs are available to order via the shop page.

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