Working with Oak

All our oak is air dried or otherwise known as seasoned.

Air Dried simply means that during the drying out process, a large percentage of the movement of the timber has taken place, so there is less splitting and movement than with green timber especially with oak. Oak will always have some movement its a natural wonder.


Once seasoning has commenced the timber is peeled from its bark, shaped and sanded over many hours until you can see its beauty starting to come alive.

Natural oils are applied to the seasoned sanded timber and polished off.  Tung, Danish and boiled linseed oils I favour because I find they really bring out the beautiful natural grain patterns.

Once I have the desired look and depth from oil applications the oak is cured and wrapped in sisal in certain areas for kitty to scratch upon.

Sisal is a natural fibre extracted from the leaves of the Agave Sisalana, a succulent plant closely related to the plant which brings us tequila, it grows in dry desert climates such as the plains of Mexico and other parts of the New World. I usally use quality 10mm sisal, its extreamly strong.

Finally the pieces are mounted on a array of different bases.The whole process can take 4-6 weeks.

Keeping it natural your cat with love the feel of our trees and you will have a beautiful piece of natural art to admire in your home or outdoors.

Unlike other cat scratching products these are built to last for years and with the right care a lifetime.


Agave Sisalana

Native to Mexico

Fibre is extracted by a process known as decortication

The strong sisal fibers are extracted from the plant's long, green leaves, then washed, sun-dried, brushed, graded and bailed on the plantations.


Hardwood Timber is a natural substance, we all know that and it is organic, it is greatly influenced by it’s surroundings and more specifically it is trying to reach an equilibrium with it’s natural surroundings. This photo was taken 3 months before the next photo of the exact same price of oak.

3 Months Later

3 Months Later

You can really see the change from the previous photo taken 3 months earlier most of the splits have closed up. Both the heart and the pith are reaching an equilibrium. Clever stuff wood!

Hardwood Splits and Cracks with natural beauty

We are frequently asked about splits and cracks in hardwoods and why does it happen? And will it damage the structure? The simple answer is they are totally natural and nothing to worry about.


Equilibrium of the environment 


Wood wants to be the same as its environment both in moisture content and temperature. During summer months and soaring temperatures timber starts to exhibit cracks and splits where it further dries out from its original point of FSP (Fibre saturation point).


Hardwood also tries its hardest to match its environment which you may not know, it moves, swells, and shrinks this is normal timber behaviour and should be fully understood when buying any timber product.

It is by its nature trying to reach an equilibrium with its surrounding air moisture. During summer this moisture content in the air is going up and down all the time as is the temperature and the wood is trying to do the same thing. 


As hardwood dries out it shrinks across the grain and develops splits and cracks, sometimes also called ‘shakes’. As the grain runs along any one piece of timber the splits and cracks which open up as the fibres dry and separate this gives unique, natural character. You will notice this mainly in bases and platforms because they are cut on the horizontal.

Cracks and splits are all part of the ageing process you will have probably seen this in the oak beam structure in an old pub at some point, we add expansion joints to all our timber bases to allow for this natural movement.


Regardless of how well dried a piece of hardwood is it will always grow and shrink according to seasonal changes in relative humidity of the air.


Sometimes cracks can open up alarmingly large this is entirely normal and once the inner core has dried  the crack will close up.

Likewise as the moisture in the air increases so will the free water absorbed by capillary action in the wood and once again the cracks will close up.


Enjoy it and embrace it as it is part of its charm and warmth we all enjoy. Watch it and marvel at it’s behaviour, cracks and splits will disappear, open up, wander and move. 


16th century Oak



Incredibly Strong

Apple Wood

Apple wood grows in a twisted fashion, which makes its grains uneven and therefore very rich and pleasing to look at.  

It is most often found as ornate handles, cabinet doors, and dishware as it is a dense wood that resists wear.

The price of apple wood is more expensive than other domestic wood varieties making it a less popular choice for full-on construction jobs but more desirable for those looking for quality and class.

Apple trees were common sources of wood for the immigrants who colonized North America. Today, apple wood is typically harvested from trees that have outgrown their usefulness as fruit producers.

Because the majority of today’s apple trees are dwarf varieties (they produce the same amount of fruit on a much smaller, more manageable tree), apple wood is not available in massive quantities.

Sophisticated Scratch has teamed up with local apple orchards giving another life to apple trees that no longer produce fruit.


Heartwood can vary from like reddish or greyish brown to a deeper red/brown

Apple is seldom available in lumber form, and is usually seen only in very small sizes when available. Likely to be rather expensive, and is usually meant for only small projects and specialized applications.

Grain is straight (though on some sections of the tree it can also be wild). With a very fine, uniform texture, closely resembling Cherry.

Natural Oils we use

Danish Oil is naturally water, food and alcohol resistant. It is safe for food contact when dry and can be used for wooden bowls, chopping boards and butchers blocks. It is certified EN71 toy safe. We do not use any synthetic or modified resins or varnish in our Danish Oil.  Danish oil is a wood finishing oil, often made of tung oil or polymerized linseed oil. 


Tung Oil is naturally water, food and alcohol resistant. It is safe for food contact when dry and can be used for salad bowls and chopping boards. It is certified EN71 toy safe.

Tung oil or China wood oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the tung tree. Tung oil hardens upon exposure to air, and the resulting coating is transparent and has a deep, almost wet look. Related drying oils include linseed, safflower, poppy and soybean. 

Tung oil or China wood oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the tung tree

Natural oils



Linseed Oil

Hard to believe that from these long stems with delicate blue flowers at their ends , derive a wide variety of products such as a golden oil


Tung Oil

Tung oil or China Wood Oil is arguably the best natural finish for wood. In over 100 years of development of synthetic resins and varnishes no one has developed a coating that surpasses the overall performance of natural tung oil.



Beeswax Polish is a natural wax used to feed and protect bare wooden surfaces, it seals and protects all types of wood and wooden surfaces giving a long lasting, durable and natural looking shine. Beeswax acts as a protective coating on the surface, enhancing the woods shine and helping keep it looking better for longer.



Sisal with the botanical name Agave sisalana, is a species of Agave native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated and naturalized in many other countries. It yields a stiff fibre used in making various products. It is sometimes referred to as "sisal hemp", because for centuries hemp was a major source for fibre, and other fibre sources were named after it.

The sisal fibre is traditionally used for rope and twine, and has many other uses, including paper, cloth, footwear, hats, bags, carpets, and dartboards. Sophisticated Scratch uses a 10mm minimal diameter sisal on all their products.