Holly Hardwood


Holly is a versatile and popular timber species, with a wide sapwood that is usually whiter than the heartwood. The heartwood can range from very white to ivory-white in colour. Holly has a close, irregular grain with a very fine, even texture and is usually free of any figure. It is commonly used in turnery, carving, and for making tool handles. The wood is also known by its botanical name Ilex spp. (Aquifoliacae).

Holly is sourced from sustainable and legal sources and is a great choice for a variety of woodworking projects. Its unique grain pattern and fine texture make it an ideal choice for projects that require intricate details. It is also a durable wood, making it a great choice for outdoor projects.

If you are looking for a reliable and versatile timber, Holly is a great choice. Its unique characteristics make it a great option for a variety of projects.

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Material Type:

Also Called:
European Hollu (I. Aquifolium), Houx (French), American Holly (I. Opaca), Ilex (German). There Are A Great Many Species Of Holly Worldwide.

Durability Notes:
Holly wood is non durable. It is perishable and should only be considered for internal use.

The drying and seasoning of Holly is dependant on a number of factors; the speed in which it is processed after felling and logging, the method of drying and the specific kilns or location (if air dried). Generally the care taken by those processing the wood will have an impact on its drying and seasoning. As an overview; Holly - it is better cut in the winter, so that the white wood does not discolour. Holly is not easy to season and will end-split and distort if dried in the round. Holly dries better if cut in to small timber sections and dried slowly while weighted down. There can be large movement in service. Please note that all wood is liable to move when in service plus there can be dimensional change. The extent of this will depend on; the stability of the species itself, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration and protection. You will find more information about the suitability of this wood, for any proposed application, by using our interactive system and the filters shown.

Holly wood is tough, heavy and hard in all categories. Holly is not normally used for steam bending due to only small sections being available. The irregular grain makes sawing and planing challenging. The wood has a tolerable blunting effect on tools. Holly turns, carves, sands, glues, screws, stains and polishes well.

Typical Uses:
furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, turnery, carving, inlay, marquetry, paneling.

Moisture Content:
Guide - 10-18% for KD (+/- 2%)

Commonly asked questions about Holly Wood

Is Holly a hardwood or a softwood? Holly is a hardwood. It is the same for; is Holly hardwood or softwood? - Holly is a hardwood.

Most groups/families of species share the same characteristics but this normally relates to their life as plants. Individual species do not always share the same characteristics as their relatives, in terms of the wood. Many factors influence how we use the wood and what we use it for, including where it grows, how it is forested, how it seasons/dries, etc. The answers to the following common questions, therefore relate to this particular species/wood and not the Holly family as a whole. Even more specific – our answers relate to the wood (as we know it) in its form as a useable resource.

What colour is Holly? Holly can be described as brown, light brown, white/cream (very light brown)

Is Holly good for outdoor use? or is Holly good for exterior use? Holly is most suited for internal/interior use. Holly should not be used as an exterior/external timber (without treatment).

Whether the wood is naturally durable or not we would still recommend that it is decorated and/or coated with a suitable product to provide protection and/or maintain its appearance. This even applies when using the wood internally as, even subtle, changes in temperature or humidity will affect the wood. This will depend on the application/purpose of the wood and the user’s desired appearance. We also recommend that a recoating, care and maintenance programme is adhered to, for the life of an exterior wood. Wood cannot rot if it is kept dry – coatings and decoration can provide this protection. All of that said there are many durable timbers that are often left to weather naturally and will last for many years untreated/coated – movement and visual changes will occur but this is sometimes the desired effect. All wood is hygroscopic (it 'wants' to be in tune with its environment) it will therefore take on water from moisture in the air (or when directly exposed to or submerged in water) and ‘release it’ when dry or exposed to heat. This, inevitably, results in movement and dimensional change. For more about moisture in wood please click here - Moisture in wood

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