What does a woodworker do while on vacation in South Africa?
I recently returned from a trip to South Africa with my wife and in-laws, which included stays in Cape Town, Plettenburg Bay, and Knysna. As a lumber jock, I was excited to learn that there was a rather large, sustainable lumber industry in the town of Knysna. Knysna (located here), is situated along the coast of the southern tip of Africa, about 450 km from Cape Town.
The drive takes you along the N2 highway through scrub desert, wine country, and along a 3000+ ft mountain range that is considered some of the oldest mountains on the planet (500+ million years).
Knysna is primarily an Indian Ocean tourist town that is very similar to a small coastal town along the east coast of the United States.
The town is also home to one of the best sustainable forestry programs in all of South Africa. The forests are littered with a variety of Pine, hard pear and Gum trees, but also support more unique hardwoods like Stinkwood, Ironwood (native to Australia), and South Africa’s coveted Yellow wood tree. This is a species that has some really nice golden yellow coloration, as well as a great wood to carve and work with. It’s a little on the softer side, but finishes beautifully, particularly with some of the larger slabs available.
We stopped by a few places in Knysna that boasted some locally made slab-furniture. Although the craftsmanship and style was less studio quality, and more rustic, the pure beauty of some of the giant finished slabs were worth sharing. Anyone who ever has a chance to visit the country should see Knysna. And to answer an obvious question, the cost of shipping anything back was 2x the price of any of the slabs.
Here are some photos from this adventure.
-- Andy Brownell