For several years I have been seasoning and conditioning some hornbeam boards that came from Ockham Park in Surrey. Alex there had called me to say he had hornbeam about to be milled, so I went over and together we sized the main trunk down to boards the sizes I wanted. Altogether there was around half a ton of 2" and 3" boards, widths 5 - 6 inches.
A few months ago I sized one board to condition it down to around 8% moisture content, it was close at 10 - 12% already so I knew it was about ready to use.
The result is the first of the Ad-vices in hornbeam - the entire vice including main and guide screw, the lower nut... all very close grain, dense stable hornbeam. I wanted this vice to be really understated so the main boss is holm oak which also came from Ockham Park. The oak has been lightly fumed - this not only darkens it a little but also accentuates the amazing grain and shading.
The T-bar and other small detailing is ebony, so the overall look is quite monochromaitc with just one accent of mid-tone from the oak boss.
I was surprised how well the hornbeam works. It has a reputation for being difficult to work and hard on cutting edges, but I found it a delight. It turns very well (a bit creamy with long ribbons off a sharp edge) and planes very nicely - it's reluctant to tear and a fine set smoother will leave a lovely glossy finish without needing to touch surfaces with abrasives.
This, the first hornbeam Ad-vice, is on its way to Dan Schwank at Red Rose Reproductions. Dan makes very fine wooden planes in Lancaster PA and the first project this vice will see is some matched-pair hollows and rounds. So obviously Dan chose the Toolmaker version.
I'll be adding the hornbeam option to the product page shortly - the beech is still available, the hornbeam version is offered as the premium alternative. If you are interested in either get in touch.
Dan's planes (and a few other nice things) are here.