David Gunton's Hardwood Floors.
Grange Lane, Winsford,
Cheshire, CW7 2PS
Tel: +44 (0)1606 861 442
Fax: +44 (0)1606 861 445
wideboards@gmail.com


David Menu

Elm

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David Gunton supplies several species of Elm in boards from many sources, but, most especially, wide long boards. By clicking on most pictures on this site you can see a larger version.

Not all these photographs show finished floors. This will be because these are new stocks of which we do not have finished floor photos. Others may show floors laid in unfinished rooms - because we have not been able to get back to photograph the finished job.

Elm Boards


We and the designer had to work quite hard to persuade the board of directors to fit this gorgeous English Elm floor into the refurbishment of their listed 16th century pub restaurant 'The White Hart' at Wytham near Oxford ( I'm told the food is very good and the chef is making a name for himself. White Hart, Wytham, OX2 8QA. tel. 01865 244372 ). They now think it is absolutely wonderful and the very best thing since sliced bread - which it is! This photo is of the room in its unfinished state. It is not apparent from this photo, but we have fitted the boards so that most cross the room from skirting to skirting in a single length. We have also matched boards where practical so that their grain patterns compliment one another in the same way that matched veneers are laid up in fine furniture.










This picture shows the floor after they cluttered it up and spoiled it with furniture. What are the lines crossing the boards? In olden days, before the advent of machine saws, boards were pit sawn. This involved digging a pit about 6 or seven feet deep and 16 feet long or longer. The log to be sawn was laid on bearers over the pit - lengthwise. One man stood on the log, another stood in the pit. With a double handed saw they would saw the log into boards or beams or whatever was required. Hence the term 'the pits', used to describe almost anything insalubrious, because the man in the pit was constantly showered with the sawdust from above.
Excepting for the finest work for the richest customers, the boards were laid unplaned or only partially smoothed. Thus, there were many saw cuts in the face of the boards.


In Tudor buildings these can still be seen in the dark polished flooring, and are called 'the pit saw marks'. Second hand timber still exhibiting pit saw marks is much sought after and very costly. These elm boards were sawn by a modern automated band sawmill. However, the log was sawn with the bark on. Lodged in a crevice in the bark was a stone. When the saw hit that stone, it bent one of the teeth. That tooth cut a deeper impression than all the rest. We deliberately left that piece of the history of the wood in the floor when we smoothed it by hand.
The elm is from the estate of a German nobleman. An ancestor planted an avenue of English Elms. Dutch Elm Disease attacked some of the trees and they had to be felled and burned. This spoiled the continuity of the avenue so the current custodian has had the remaining trees felled - about 1500 trees - and new young elms planted so that they will all present the same appearance.








English Elm is one of those timbers in which one constantly finds new patterns and delights. Rather like looking into a fire or clouds and seeing faces or castles, to those with imagination, the whorling grain of the elm presents an endless parade of discovery of images. If you go to Wytham and dine at the White Hart, see if you can find the hidden Lion of Wytham, a wraith in the floor.




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