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Worktop Express Blog

May 30

Wooden peace symbols by Kid CraveWe have to say that it’s no surprise to us, but now at least it’s official. Wood is good for you! According to Dr. Marjut Wallenius of the University of Tampere, Finland, “Wood has psychological effects on people and a similar stress-reducing effect to nature”.

After conducting super-scientific studies in Norway, Japan, Canada and Austria, Dr. Wallenius and his team of researchers concluded that wood appears to have positive effects on people’s emotional state. They observed that if you surround yourself with wooden furniture – ideally in a wooden structure – it will cause a drop in blood pressure and pulse rate, leading to a calming effect.

What exactly is it about wood that has these positive influences on people? “Wooden surfaces make a room feel warmer and cosier and they also have a calming effect. In these properties, wood beats all other normal surface materials,” answers Wallenius.

His research found that touching wooden surfaces gives people a feeling of safety, security and being close to nature. “It is especially interesting that the feel of wood is softer than other materials, not only experientially but also psychologically,” says the doctor.

Conversely, it was found that touching aluminium, stainless steel or cool plastic caused a rise in blood pressure. Even plants were found to have less of a calming effect than wood.

So with that in mind, it’s clear that solid wood is the perfect material to create a calming atmosphere in your kitchen, office or dining room. As well as providing a tranquil environment, wooden worktops also look absolutely fantastic. And indeed, as we’re surrounded by wood here at Worktop Express® HQ, we can attest that Dr. Wallenius’ research appears to be true – we love our iroko and wenge desks and the atmosphere here is a productive yet serene ocean of calm!

May 26

Every month we have some fantastic fabrication going on in our Gloucester warehouse, and May has been no exception. Our fabrication team have been tasked with some rather unusual bespoke wood worktops, and here’s our pick of the bunch:

Iroko

The bronze hues of iroko worktops mean that they never fail to be amongst our favourites here at Worktop Express®. The recent launch of a new collection of Deluxe iroko worktops has coincided with a surge in demand for this timber – and it’s not hard to see why when we take a look at this stunning specimen! The customer requested an unusual shaped cut-out right in the centre of this worktop that’s for a four-in-a-row hob – something we rarely see. For precision, it was cut with our CNC machine, then finished by hand to ensure that every millimetre of the edge was honed to a beautifully smooth and even finish.

Iroko worktop with irregular cut out.

Oak

There’s little we enjoy more than seeing a truly unique worktop design, and this customer’s breakfast bar is no exception. After biscuit-joining two of our 620mm oak worktops together to create this extra wide surface, we were able to fashion a beautifully large ellipse end that smoothly rolls out in to two internal ellipses, finishing in a flat end to mount the worktop up against a wall. We love the mixture of grain patterns in this piece, and can happily imagine chowing down on some eggs and bacon around it (or perhaps something a little more civilised…).

Bespoke oak worktop with ellipse end and also 2 internal side ellipses.

Beech

Whether your kitchen has some rather unusual shaped walls, or obstacles that stop a standard rectangular worktop from being installed, we’re able to customise our worktops to any requirements – that’s the beauty of wood. This lovely example of a beech worktop was made to snuggle up against an unusual wall, but was no struggle for our fabrication team to get spot-on. After making the irregular cut, a single radius corner was also cut, and then a pencil edge profile applied to both the top and the bottom of the worktop.

Beech worktop with irregular cut out, radius corner and pencil top edge profile.

And there you have it – May’s finest fabrications are a sight to behold and full commendation must go to our skilled fabrication team who continue to manufacture some truly fantastic bespoke worktops from timber of the highest quality.

If you’re one of the lucky customers to have one of our customised worktops in your kitchen, we’d love to see some photos! Share them with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter or on Google +.

As our ‘Fabrication Fever’ sale has just kicked off, if you’re planning on any bespoke alterations to your worktop of choice, now’s the ideal time. You’ll save yourself 25% off any fabrication services we do – but hurry, fabrication slots are on a first come, first served basis so do feel free to get in touch if you need any advice on deciding what’s best for your next kitchen worktop.

May 23

Customise Wood Kitchen Worktop Surfaces with Our ‘Fabrication Fever’ Sale: 25% Off!

HAY, it’s that time of year when we’ve got the FEVER for fabrication – do you see what we did there? We’ve already had a few sweltering days of summer sun, and are now well fuelled up for the beautiful summer ahead of us (we’re keeping optimistic!)

What better way to usher in the summer season than by offering you lucky folk a full 25% off all of our fabrication services from today until the 23rd June – a deal which was very popular earlier in the year, so we’re running it again. Thanks to ultra-modern CNC equipment and a team of highly skilled wood-working experts, our fabrication team have been turning out some exceptional bespoke worktops of late. If you’ve never used our services before, now’s the ideal time!

Are you curious to know just what our fabrication team can do to one of our excellent wood kitchen worktop surfaces? Here’s a little selection of some of our favourites:

Prime oak worktop with 85mm radius corner and pencil top edge profile.Prime oak worktop with 85mm radius corner and pencil top edge profile.
Black american walnut 800mm wide worktop with 300mm ellipse end.Black american walnut 800mm wide worktop with 300mm ellipse end.
Bespoke oak worktop with irregular cuts outs, hotrod grooves and pencil top edge profile.Bespoke oak worktop with irregular cuts outs, hotrod grooves and pencil top edge profile.
Oak worktop with overmounted sink cut out and irregular cut out.Oak worktop with overmounted sink cut out and irregular cut out.

For some other examples of our fabrications, take a peek at our extensive Fabrication Gallery.

Feeling the fabrication flavour now? Well we’ve also got fantastic savings on black American walnut worktops too, so if that’s the worktop for you, find yourself a great deal with Worktop Express® over the next few weeks. If you’ve got any queries about our fabrication service, don’t hesitate to contact us.

We’re open throughout the week between 9am and 5:00pm, and 10am – 2pm on Saturdays.

May 19

As you’ll well know if you follow the Worktop Express® blog, we’re not only keen sports fans, but also big supporters of a variety of local sporting talent. The latest addition to our roster comes in the form of the First XI team from Frocester Cricket Club, based in Stonehouse, which is near our offices in Gloucester. Some of our directors went along to cheer on the team, wax lyrical about our solid wood worktops and share a drink or two – they don’t like cricket, they love it.

Solid Wood Worktops Sponsor Frocester Cricket Club First XI

The second match of the season was played on the afternoon of Saturday May 10th against Weston Super Mare’s first XI.

After winning the toss, the Frocester team invited the visitors to bat first, letting the lads make some early quick wins over WSM including taking out their number 2 batsman who was run out after only 8 balls. By this point, the home team were up 30-3 and the visitors were starting to struggle, but two of the visiting batsmen managed to build up some decent innings to keep them in the game.

Following a series of well-placed balls bowled by captain, Nick Trainor, he managed to take control and catch out 3 of the next 5, Frocester easily working their way through the WSM Batting line-up. The visiting team were finally all out for 171 in the 40th over, their tally boosted by 41 wides – possibly an area for improvement!

Solid Wood Worktops Sponsor Frocester Cricket Club First XISolid Wood Worktops Sponsor Frocester Cricket Club First XI

Frocester came in to bat: Quereshi and Beard took care not to get bowled out, and led the way with Quereshi sprinting towards his century. Beard was caught out for a fine 55, and replaced by Sam Bracey, who joined Quereshi to lead Frocester to victory in the 37th over, clinching a win for the Frocester by 9 wickets.
A big well done to all the team – we’ll be following their progress throughout the year and keeping you informed of any big news right here on the blog.

Solid Wood Worktops Sponsor Frocester Cricket Club First XI

May 16

Become a MasterChef in the Kitchen with Wooden Kitchen WorkbenchesIt’s no secret: Britain has gone a little culinary crazy. Aspiring chefs will be glued to the telly for the final of the yearly ‘MasterChef’ competition tonight, and other foody shows – such as the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ and ‘Saturday Kitchen’ – have also acquired huge followings in recent years.

At Worktop Express we’re equally excited by anything that might tantalise your taste buds and firmly believe that solid wood provides the perfect backdrop to food preparation. Our wooden kitchen workbenches are naturally hygienic (particularly those timbers like iroko that have a high oil-content, or bamboo, which is water-resistant) and resilient – wenge, for example, is often called the timber equivalent of granite.

Whilst our worktops are not suitable for direct cutting, we offer some other complementary solid wood items such as end grain butchers blocks and chopping boards. Both can be a permanent addition to your worktop and provide an excellent surface on which to chop fruit and veg, or become a bakery whizz.

Got a kitchen island? A butcher’s block can make a fantastic centre-piece: the chequerboard pattern of maple, walnut or oak is aesthetically pleasing as well as incredibly hard-wearing.

We’re always keen to see the fruits of your kitchen labour, so do share pictures of your culinary efforts or beautiful kitchens with us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

May 12

We’re a little infatuated with wood – there’s no denying it. Anything that makes creative use of this wondrous natural material has our interest.

This is the first in our new series of ‘Top 5s’, blogs in which we’ll explore wooden products in a variety of markets. We’re kicking off with five favourite wooden kitchen accessories that complement our wide range of solid wood kitchen workbenches.

At number 5: The Typhoon Hachoir Set

The Typhoon Hachoir Set Solid Wood Kitchen Workbenches

image courtesy of selecthomeware

Crushing coriander? Taking it to thyme? This hachoir set makes easy work of herbs and spices thanks to a double-blade stainless steel mezzaluna.

The hollowed chopping board is made from sustainable sources of beech and is naturally oiled (just like our solid wood worktops!). Not only is it a great addition to any chef’s arsenal, but it looks great in a kitchen and is excellent value at just £11 from Select Homeware.

Our number 4: Oak Pestle & Mortar

Oak Pestle & Mortar Solid Wood Kitchen Workbenches

image courtesy of jamieathome

This chunky pestle and mortar is made from rather attractive American oak and looks more than good enough to earn a permanent position on your kitchen worktop.

Release the flavours from garlic, ginger, chilli or any number of herbs and spices to make your own pastes and dressings.

Only £39 from Jamie’s ‘At Home’ kitchenware site.

In at number 3: Tuscany Drop Front Bread Bin

Tuscany Drop Front Bread Bin Solid Wood Kitchen Workbenches

image courtesy of artisanti

Store your bread in style with this beautiful drop front bread bin from T&G woodware – crafted from Australian acacia wood that goes really well with our walnut worktops.

A chrome handle finishes the bread bin with a touch of style, and allows for easy access to your fresh bread.

Available from Artisanti for a very reasonable £34.

At number 4: The Wine-Stem Rack

The Wine-Stem Rack Solid Wood Kitchen Workbenches

image courtesy of crateandbarrel

Well, we got this far without resorting to drink, but we’re not making any excuses for including this rather elegant wooden wine-rack in this Top 5.

Also made from Australian acacia, this space-saving rack is designed to be wall-mounted and stores 6 bottles of your beverage of choice, along with 6 wine glasses that are cleverly held by their stems underneath.

Head over to Crate & Barrell to snap one up for £39.

And our number 1: The Provenance Reuseful Cookbook Stand

The Wine-Stem Rack Solid Wood Kitchen Workbenches

image courtesy of thisisprovenance

When we stumbled across this ingenious cookbook stand, it was an easy decision to give it the top spot in our wooden kitchen accessories top 5.

Manufactured entirely from recycled teak, it’s been designed to fold up and just look like a wooden book. It’ll sit right next to the rest of your cookbooks and unfolds into a handy stand that will hold your cookbook of choice – or if you’re really modern – a tablet PC.

Provenance will sell you one directly for just £35.

So there you have it – wood not only makes beautiful worktops, but some rather gorgeous kitchen accessories too. Whilst we haven’t yet branched out in to a full range of accessories for your kitchen, our solid oak chopping boards have been incredibly popular. They’re available for just £20 and are supplied fully sanded and oiled with a pencil edge profile.

May 09

Deluxe Iroko,

New and with beautiful hue,

Pride of staves so wide.

There’s not many worktops we’d write a haiku for, but this month we’re revisiting a new favourite of ours – Deluxe Iroko. It’s a beautiful timber with a distinctive toffee-brown hue, which complements modern kitchen settings, though equally doesn’t look out of place in more conventional kitchens.

With sumptuous staves measuring 90mm wide – more than double the width of the 40mm staves in our standard iroko worktops – we give you more of this African timber to admire. Deluxe Iroko worktops mature beautifully over time, transforming from a more yellow tone to a warm dark brown thanks to the naturally high oil content. The timber also has hygienic anti-bacterial qualities, and is naturally water resistant – two qualities that make it ideal for use as a kitchen worktop.

Iroko can be found throughout the central band of wet African rainforests and savannahs that range from Guinea in the west to Tanzania in the east. The largest concentrations of this timber are generally found in Cameroon and the Congo. Commonly referred to as African teak, this strong and dense hardwood has been used for a variety of construction and furnishings for many years, as well a many medicinal purposes that are used to this day by native populations without access to modern medicine.

All-in-all, iroko is a highly appealing and exotic timber, which in its deluxe form rightly deserves the crown of May’s Worktop of the Month. If you haven’t seen our deluxe worktops in person, we’d love to help get your hands on them. We recommend ordering one of our samples for just £5 including delivery, the cost of which can be refunded against your first worktop order. For further information, feel free to get in touch.

May’s Worktop of the Month: Deluxe Iroko

May 06

A glorious sunny Bank Holiday marked the start of the Autograss season for our sponsored driver, Stuart Deacon. His Worktop Express® branded car has been tearing up grass in cars representing our kitchen workbenches for a few seasons now, but this year we plan on following his success a little more closely. The first round of the UK Autograss Championship was held locally to our offices in Gloucester, so we went down and caught Stuart on camera, along with some footage of this exhilarating motorsport. So get ready, and strap yourself in to experience the thrill of throwing a ridiculously light car – with plenty of power – around a grass circuit.

Kitchen Workbenches hit the track with Stuart DeaconAs you can see there was some thrilling sideways action from Stuart and his pocket rocket. The first heat saw Stuart fly off the line and take an early 2nd place, which he gallantly held for the next few laps until unfortunately his rear left CV joint broke (the piece which allows the axel to move around with the bumps in the road). This saw Stuart drop from 2nd to 6th on the last lap – a frustrating start to the weekend.

After some temporary pit-stop mechanics, Stuart managed to get the car going again and had an exciting second heat on Saturday afternoon which saw him fighting for 1st position all the way to the end. He was pipped to the post by merely a couple of feet, giving him a 2nd place.

Kitchen Workbenches hit the track with Stuart DeaconKitchen Workbenches hit the track with Stuart Deacon

Kitchen Workbenches hit the track with Stuart DeaconThe third and final heat took place on Sunday morning and Stuart again set off to a flying start, making it in to the first corner in pole position. After a couple of absolutely hair-raising laps Stuart’s car again succumbed to a CV joint failure, meaning he had to limp the car home for another 6th place. If not let down by mechanical failure, Stuart would have been top qualifier for the weekend – unfortunately that’s the way racing goes, but he’s very upbeat about the car’s performance and is ready for next weekend’s racing in Evesham.

Stuart’s determination, resilience and skill echoes that of our fabrication team, who’ve produced some beautiful bespoke worktops over the last few weeks. Fortunately there’s not quite the same level of complications to deal with, but our multi-point quality control always ensures that any issues are picked up before the worktops are finished.

Worktop Express® sponsors a number of local sporting heroes alongside Stuart, and we enjoy keeping you regularly updated on their progress – so look out for more on the blog very soon!

May 02

It’s that time of the month where we spend the afternoon picking our jaws up off the floor after finding a truly amazing use of our favourite natural material: wood.

Feast your eyes on the ‘Splinter’ car, designed by American engineer Joe Harmon. The entire shell, chassis and suspension is made from a combination of maple, plywood and MDF, and weigh a minimal 1134KG – 240KG (which is less than a super lightweight Porsche). To keep the weight down and keep the chassis strong there aren’t any solid chunks of wood in the construction of this car. Most of the body is manufactured from a laminated wooden veneer, woven together and lacquered in a similar form to carbon fibre, to make it incredibly tough, whilst remaining very light.

The engine, gearbox and a number of other components under the hood are of course made of more traditional materials, with the twin supercharged 4.6L V8 engine developing a monstrous 700bhp.

Wacky Wood Uses: Wooden Supercar!

courtesy of jalopnik

Touting the benefits of wood as a viable material in such high-performance engineering, Harmon said that “Wood has a higher strength to weight ratio than aluminium or steel, and it possesses a versatility that makes many different types of construction techniques possible.” Sharing our appreciation of wood, he went on to say that “The look, feel and smell of a natural material like wood is not seen elsewhere and cannot be faked; the satisfaction involved in making something from a piece of wood is awesome.”

Now personally we think there’s certainly a market for a wooden supercar: there’d definitely be one parked outside the offices here amongst the rather more mundane aluminium and steel boxes. As the Splinter hasn’t made it in to full production, we’d set building one as an optimistic side-project for our fabrication team, but unfortunately our solid wood worktops are just too heavy, and a little too rectangular…

That said, we do have a ‘Worktop Express’ car – driven by our sponsored Autograss racer Stuart Deacon. As it so happens he has rather a big race coming up – so stay tuned for more on the surprisingly wonderful connection between wood, worktops, and cars! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus for the latest ‘Wacky Wood’ updates.