Pacific Yew- The Cognac of Wood

This wood is my absolute favourite of favourites.  Quite simply, it has a richness that speaks to my senses like a fine cognac long-aged in French oak barrels, or perhaps your preference is Grand Marnier.  My kitchen cabinets are made from yew, as are many of our doors here at West Wind Hardwood, and upon returning from time away, I am always struck by how extraordinary this richly coloured, unique wood is.

There are many, many species of yew; one of the more common is English yew.  The name “Yew” comes from the Proto-Germanic “īwa-“and with a possible origination from the Gaulish “ivos” referring to the colour brown.  Our local species is known as Pacific yew, western yew, American yew, Oregon yew, bow-plant, mountain mahogany.

Read more

Mesquite – There’s a Love/Hate Relationship

On our annual Mexican road-trip inland, we were drawn to the beauty of the mesquite tree.  The traveler sees twisted, crooked limbs, sharp spiteful thorns amid flowers looking like long spikes of yellow catkins and delicate feather-like leaves; as yet, seasonal pods have not matured.  There is a delicate fragrance perfuming the arid landscape.







Mesquite (from Nahuatl mizquitl) is a plant found in Mexico and upwards through Southern US; some species are also found in Central and northern South America.  It is a deciduous tree reaching heights of 20-30 ft; depending on the particular species and environmental conditions, it can exhibit more shrub-like tendencies than tree.  With long deep taproots making it an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant, ranchers consider this a nuisance tree because it competes with rangeland grasses for moisture.

Read more

European Beech

Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree belonging to the beech family Fagacaea.  It has a natural range extending from southern Sweden though to central Italy, west to France, northern Portugal and central Spain.  Although oft regarded as a native in southern England, recent evidence suggests it did not reach here after until after the English Channel was formed in the ice ages.

It is a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to 49 m and 3 m trunk diameter.  It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years. The appearance varies according to its habitat and forest conditions; it tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches; in isolation with good side light, the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches.

Read more

The Yellow Cedar

A Communal Resident

It’s a given that my mission, when on holidays, is to take tree and/or wood-related pictures for our newsletter…and what an opportunity Strathcona Park gave us. This past September, found us on our annual tenting holiday; just before the park closed its gates for the winter. We came prepared, both mentally and physically, for full-day hikes of 5-6 hours; weather permitting. And thus we made a 6-hour round trip trek to Bedwell Lake; bringing us into the sub-alpine; home to the yellow cedar tree.

Although comfortable at lower elevations especially in the mid or north coastal regions, the yellow cedar is most common at higher elevations.
As we walk along, I’m constantly asking what tree is this or that. Of course, I never remember and why should I? I have my handy-dandy walking reference………..better than an IPAD or smart phone; don’t have to worry Wi-Fi hot-spots!


Read more

Danny’s Apprenticeship

A Journey into Journeymanship.

Do you know what a Joiner is? A Joiner will layout, machine, assemble, install and finish products that are fabricated from wood, plastics and other materials. Many of these processes will combine conventional techniques with automated (CNC/CAD/CAM) procedures.
As an example, joiners work in these areas:

  • Architectural Woodwork (Millwork)
  • Cabinets
  • Commercial furnishings
  • Residential furnishings
  • Yacht interiors
  • Specialty items

To become a certified journeyperson, you need to complete four years of apprenticeship training. Apprenticeship is a time-proven method of acquiring skills in the trade by combining technical in-school instruction with practical on-the-job training. Apprenticeship training is the best method for passing along trade skills from one generation to the next.
From the mouth of Danny:

“I’m looking forward to learning something new and spending time in the big city!”

Beyond acing his exams to date, Danny’s taken time to explore the Sloquet hot springs.  Here are his thoughts:

I wanted to go to a real hot spring, something in nature rather than pumped into a swimming pool!  I sure got what I wanted.  It took my around 4 hours to get there; 3 hours of that was on a rough road, and I mean really rough.   There was a lot of climbing with loose rock; so steep I had to use first gear, but still couldn’t go slow enough because it was so rocky.  Of course, the forester can handle it! I only scrapped the bottom a few times…lol…there were some deep washout as well. The drive was awesome, some nice views of Harrison lake and the mountains nearby

To temporarily replace Danny’s 6- week stay in Vancouver for his BCIT training, we welcome Sarah Von Drasek’s return.  Sarah will assist in our milling department.  Stop by and say ‘hello’ to an old friend..