Walking Stick Forum banner

Yew -hoo! the luck of a cut.

4541 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  gdenby
Gotta post a pic.

Wood Ingredient Vegetable Dish Cuisine

The pic is of a piece of yew (probably taxus canadensis) heartwood. Thickest portion is about 1 3/8 thick. The reason I am posting it is that it has had no treatment other than rasping and sanding

This stuff is incredible! I decided to pause as I worked the piece down to a good handle shape. It feels in the hand as if it has already been waxed. As glossy as can be. Will need more work for a final shape, but the time spent getting it to gloss finish was less than 10 min, hand work only.


I have a bunch of ornamental yews around my front porch. I am slowly turning the porch into a work space, and need lots of light. They had become over grown in the past few years. Knowing that yew will grow back when cut way back, and because I'm not getting any younger, I decided to do some radical trimming.

One of the "shrubs" had reached tree height. It was already about 12' high when we came to this house 35 years ago. It has been very vigorous, and despite several trimmings, became tall enough that I was worried it would start to push into the 2nd story eaves.

The trunk has branched every few feet, but I did get a couple of 4' - 5' sections that had few side branches, and were not too wavy. I was delighted to see the color of the heartwood.

I decided to carve right into some smaller pieces. Despite cutting when there had only been a few days above freezing, water dripped from the sapwood as I cut away the bark and cambium. I decided that if I was to escape bad checking, I needed to cut away the sapwood. At first it was easy, but within days, even the sapwood was becoming very tough and stringy.

Its a few weeks after cutting, but no cracks yet on the pieces I am carving. Finger crossed. Likewise, no splitting on the bigger pieces, tho' I've earned here it would be good to seal them better than w. the parafin I have on them.

Most remarkable. I have read about the famous yew bow, but never imagined the wood wasd so very fine for carving. Will have to try thinning some scraps, as the branches I've saved are so tough, I can't image bending them by muscles alone.

If you can find someone who wants there shrubbery trimmed, you might have the makings of a fine walking stick. Wood Ingredient Vegetable Dish Cuisine


See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
I'm jealous. I have been searching all over for Yew around here in the Pacific NW. It is supposed to be plentiful, but I still can't find any. Oh well, the hunt goes on. Gorgeous wood.
Beautiful piece of wood! Now I have to go on a hunt for Yew! :)
I so lucked into this. I'd read that, in descending order, the finest woods for bows were Osage Orange, English Yew, and then Pacific yew. Yew is not native where I live, but common a few hundred miles farther north. I really had no idea that shrubbery would be anything so good. I'm not a boyer, but I want a lot more of this.

Another reason I posted was that after this discovery, I sorted thru my memories about where I had seen other yew shrubs. I recalled a few dark green shrubs on properties where the houses were gone. Did not know if they were ornamental yew or arbor vitae. Drove by early this morning. Sigh... or Sh__! Bulldozers, cranes, and 2 big piles of giant splinters. Hope some of the demolition crew salvaged a couple of pieces of good wood.
Excuse me for venting some on the last post. I'm gonna have to post on Craigslist "gonna bulldoze down a few acres of trees? Call me if there are a few sticks you don'y mind selling for gas."
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.