African Lumber Adventure #1: A Woodworker's Visit to Knysna, South Africa

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Blog entry by Andy Brownell posted 12-14-2010 02:09 PM 3425 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of African Lumber Adventure series Part 2: "Pitruss" Table and Benches in Niangon »

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

8 comments so far

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 3131 days

#1 posted 12-14-2010 02:49 PM

Great stuff Andy. Very interesting and informative. Thank you very much!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Cozmo35's profile


2199 posts in 2074 days

#2 posted 12-14-2010 03:14 PM

Looks like a very fun trip. I bet you enjoyed every minute of it!

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 2766 days

#3 posted 12-14-2010 06:58 PM

great photos. thanks for taking the time to post. I’ve never left my home continent, but I’m jealous of the adventure you had!

View Karson's profile


34987 posts in 3439 days

#4 posted 12-14-2010 09:17 PM

Some great vacation phiotos. Of course the wood didn’t heart either.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View swirt's profile


1985 posts in 2010 days

#5 posted 12-14-2010 09:23 PM

Wow. Fascinating wood. It would kill me to have to leave it all there.

-- Galootish log blog,

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2495 posts in 2145 days

#6 posted 12-14-2010 09:42 PM

How many of those hairy legged LJ’s did you run into? I understand there are quiet a few still allowed to roam free down there. lol

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 1978 days

#7 posted 12-14-2010 10:25 PM

Yeah, I’m one of them! Just sorry that Andy didn’t pay me a visit, I live near Knysna! ( I could have shown you some studio furniture!)

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6790 posts in 3018 days

#8 posted 12-14-2010 10:34 PM

Very nice photos.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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