The Log, the Whole Log and Nothing but the Log: Your Guide to our Boule Iroko
I have no idea how to build a boat, but I do know one or two things about boat builders. Firstly they can be fussy, but we appreciate that, we can be fussy too when it comes to timber. Secondly, perhaps more than any trade boat builders must know what their materials can and cannot do – there are few environments more challenging for timber than water, yet there are even fewer materials that can perform like timber when it comes to building boats. More often than not that means finding the best materials, and at Thorogood Timber we always want to be the guys with the best possible stock.
Sometimes that means going against the grain. Take iroko, it’s a fantastic timber for boat building; extraordinarily durable, natural oily and resistant to shock. It works in a huge number of applications from gunwales and rubbing strakes to planking. Conventional wisdom tells us that the world’s best iroko comes from the Ivory Coast, so for a long time that’s all we bought. It was the best stuff that we were being offered and it was always very good, so we told all our customers that Ivory Coast iroko could not be beaten, it was the best-of-the-best and no mistake. If you wanted a hardwood for boat building, then this was the stuff to have – if you built a boat with iroko from anywhere else then you might as well sink it now!
But then something happened to change our minds, to show us that the conventional wisdom about iroko was flawed. We got a call one day out of the blue from a trusted supplier offering us some new stock, which we were told was pretty special – pretty special, but not from the ivory coast… It seemed like heresy, but we trusted our guts and went with it.
It was perfect.
We sold it pretty quickly and ordered some more. This time we knew our fingers would get burnt – packets of frozen peas were on stand by.
But it was perfect again.
You see the difference is that this isn’t like normal Iroko, which is sold in great big packs drawn from all over the place. It’s complete logs, long straight boards of butt stock with the sap intact. Six metres plus of wide, virtually clear timber still packed in complete boles for overall colour consistency and greater selection. It’s also the first choice premium cutting, the crème de la crème, the extra virgin olive oil of the iroko world chosen out of all the felled logs before anyone else gets a chance. The received wisdom would say that because it’s not Ivory Coast it was bound to be inferior, but sometimes it’s good to be a rebel, to follow your own advice – sometimes doing the wrong thing is exactly the right thing to do. It paid off. We should have known all along though, because it’s exactly how we like to buy our timber. Working with a specific mill or importer who shares our obsession with quality, paying a bit more, dealing with the real experts and getting a vastly better product – seems like a fair trade off, right?
So the next time you’re in the market for some iroko, why be part of the herd? Conventional wisdom can sometimes lead you astray, or leave you missing out on something really special. Remember, conventional wisdom said that minidisk players would be the next big thing and people who follow the crowd watch Love Island. Why not book an appointment to come in and have a look? you won’t be disappointed.
Guides | 2 years AGO