This is another phenomenon that occasionally manifests itself in some British timbers. I like to search it out amongst elms and oak and, less often, find it amongst maple and sweet chestnut. I particularly search for it in elms because I’ve been trying to memorialise this magnificent tree’s timber since we lost the majority of them in the mid 1970s. Elm grain is an awkward cussed timber that does not give up its charms easily. It is flecked with tool blunting silica and it can ‘move’ mercurially in its seasoning, and, as anyone who has tried to split it with an axe will tell you, it is extremely tough. Once captured and honed, its rugged character worn on its sleeve, and its rich colour make this the quintessential British timber.