Since their felling, the boards in THE RESERVE have been eased through the stages of preparation for use gently.

Now they have arrived. They’re ready to use, but we don’t let them sit gathering dust.
Once Hillgrove boards have been selected and put aside we spend time on them. We take away the weathered surface with a light plane and sand to expose the colour, grain and individual characteristics. In this way you can make your choice of board more easily.

But our ability to work on your boards doesn’t end there. We have a range of workshop processes that change the way your board looks and feels, from smooth planing, making straight edges to cutting at specified dimensions.

Read below about the different ways we can prepare your board…

ways to work your board

Each of the following workshop treatments is available to you when you choose a board from THE RESERVE.


Raw boards come straight from THE RESERVE, we give them minimal treatment so they’re essentially as they were when they were first sawn from the log except for a small amount of thickness and surface roughness that has been removed in the initial cleaning up process to allow them to present as clean, fairly flat boards.

As such they can be taken away and used immediately on trestles, or kitchen units or stacks of your favourite if you wish, or just stood against a wall as a piece of art or sculpture.


One of the most requested of the workshop processes is what we call ‘straight line edging’.

This is a straight line cut down the full length of board to remove either one or both of the waney edge, creating a straight edge.

This is useful if you need a flat back edge to fit a worktop against a wall or to join to boards back to back. To achieve a completely straight edged board the waney edge  of both sides is taken away to give a rectangle rather than the irregular shapes of a natural, bark edged board. The straight line edger will do this.

It will also make a vertical cut down through the centre of the board to enable a flip to have both waney edges facing inwards as for a river table.

It’s worth noting that, like all the workshop machines, this process does not give a fine finish. The straight line edger has a big toothed circular blade and the result is still crude compared to that of a furniture maker. The cut it achieves is squared but is rough to the touch and would need some further treatment with a planer or sander.

Also, even thought we do our best, we cannot achieve parallel edges. We can do ‘roughly’ parallel but for a true geometric rectangle it really would take the work of a skilled furniture maker.


If your favourite board is too long for you to use or you want the ends of your board squared off rather than left natural we can achieve an approximate square-ness using our cross cut saw. The saw is a big toothed circular blade that sits on a long flat bed and can cut boards up to 600mm wide in the blink of an eye.

For boards wider then 600mm we need to work by hand ‘with a skillsaw or a chainsaw.

As you can imagine, none of these three methods can produce clean, accurately geometric results. Instead they can produce something approximately squared to a rustic level.

For a fine, square, smooth, touch-friendly finish we recommend using the services a furniture maker.


Planing is the process of shaving the face of the wood with exceedingly sharp blades to smoothen a rough, uneven surface.

We have a range of machines to do this including a wide board planer that for widths of up to 800mm wide (including natural edge) and up to 100mm thick. The plane works by shaving small increments of 1 or 2mm at a time, the board turning after each pass, alternating the faces, gradually taking away the thickness and eventually flattening the boards undulations and unevenness.

The result is flat, clean boards ready to use as table tops, desktops, worktops or more or for further working.

For boards wider than 800mm we would use the three head sander which can be used to the same effect as it’s first head of three is a 1600 blade planer quite capable of flattening the widest of boards.


Sometimes when you choose a board it doesn’t matter what thickness it is, you want it because you’ve fallen for it’s aesthetic qualities or provenance, however that particular board might not meet your dimensional requirements. When the board needs to fit into a new kitchen, with other joinery or with existing furniture then iit can be crucial that it is dimensionally accurate in thickness as well as width and length.

Our boards are milled at many different thicknesses, then they shrink a little bit as they dry and the surface becomes uneven as the different densities of grain contract at different rates.

Thicknessing is the process that makes the board you choose the exact thickness you need it to be. We use the planer to take off the excess thickness in 1 or 2 mm increments evenly on both faces.

It’s worth noting that we do not like to take more than 8-10mm off of either side of any board over 65mm thick because it can affect the stability of the wood. If you have a specific thickness you need the board to finish at it’s best to look for boards 10-20mm thicker so you have room for planing. e.g to finish at 40mm look at boards of around 50 – 60mm.


Sanding is the last workshop process before oiling or varnishing or lacquering.

We use a double head sander* to finish our boards which is ideal if you are using the board on a trestle or existing table frame. The board will be flat and clean and ready to oil.

If, however, your board is being worked into other furniture, is part of a commission or you’re not sure how you want to use it then the sanding is best left to the furniture maker to manage as close to the end of the project as possible.

* we have a sander the same one in the above video, which also has a 1600 blade planer head in addition to the two sanding heads.

Talk to us

If you’re unsure about any of the workshop preparations we’ve talked about here please don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask for help or advice. Use our online enquiry form, call us on 01730 816941 or email us and we’ll do our utmost to help.