Worktop Express Blog

Beech tree shaped like a man in the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria.

Credit: Deyan Kossev (Solent News)

This intriguing, naturally-grown tree was discovered by a man trekking through the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. Eye-catching and unique, we couldn’t help but compare this timber structure to our characterful wooden worktops. Wood is wonderful in all its forms, so we wanted to share a little more about this leggy lumber.

Though a little out of the ordinary, this 65ft-tall timber giant is actually a beech tree. Whilst the reason it has grown in such a manner is unknown, the tree looks like something straight out of The Lord of the Rings, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Tolkien’s Treebeard.

The striking structure is formed with two legs, pronged arms, a body and a head, and was documented by amateur photographer Deyan Kossev earlier this year.

A true example of wacky wood (or should that be bizarre beech?)! However, if you are looking for something a little less eccentric for your kitchen, you might prefer our solid beech worktops. Available in a variety of sizes and stave configurations, our beautiful beech surfaces showcase a distinctive grain structure and warm, inviting colouration.

We are fans of all things timber here at Worktop Express®, from the commonplace to the downright weird. Though there is nothing conventional about the unique beauty of each and every one of our attractive wood worktops, our interest has certainly been piqued by the wacky wood uses in today’s blog: these wooden gadgets are the perfect worktop accessory, allowing you to listen to music whilst cooking up a storm in your kitchen!

Magno Wooden Radio

The Magno Wooden Radio truly is a thing of beauty. Dreamt up by Indonesian entrepreneur Singgih Kartono, this wood-clad radio is crafted by local carpenters from sustainably-sourced timber (we certainly approve!). As well as the usual AM and FM frequencies, it boasts two bands of shortwave radio – a feature to delight traditionalists and retro-radio enthusiasts alike. More impressive still, each one is made by hand in just 16 hours! Combined with MP3 compatibility, this gadget is one of a kind, and makes the perfect marriage of old, new… and wonderful wacky wood.

Wrapped in pine wood to give it a more appealing look than plastic or metal, the Magno Wooden Radio comes with smooth mahogany dials.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly countertop to complement this radio, you’ll be pleased to hear that all our wood worktops are sustainably sourced. Fast-growing bamboo is especially ‘green’, making our bamboo worktops a firm favourite for the environmentally conscious.

Audiowood Turntable

If radio is not your cup of tea, you may be more taken with the Audiowood Turntable! This custom turntable – affectionately known as ‘Barky’ – is made from solid ash and features quality components from Rega. To complete the look, the record player has a glossy finish and adjustable brass feet.

If you like the beautiful aesthetics of ash, you may also be interested in our solid ash worktops. Inherently bright and naturally hardwearing, ash provides a distinctive surface that combines a pale, near-white coloration with a warm caramel grain pattern.

Wooden Phone Amplifier

If all else fails to cater to your musical requirements, this wooden phone amplifier is here to save the day. Needing no cord, batteries or Bluetooth, this handy gadget actually requires no electricity at all, utilising clever design to amplify sound all on its own. Sound channels lead from the bottom of the phone stand through to two circular openings, through which the music is amplified naturally!

This inventive wooden phone amplifier is relatively simple to make at home, using just a few small pieces of wood. You could even repurpose worktop offcuts if you decide to take advantage of our fantastic wood worktop cutting service (we always send any substantial offcuts with the worktops, in case you fancy using them for something creative!).

If you know of any other brilliant wooden gadgets, we would love to hear from you! Why not share a photo with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

From our hardwood workbenches to these hi-tech CityTrees, trees are great in all their forms!

Courtesy of Green City Solutions

Our hardwood workbenches are – of course – incredibly stunning, and a credit to the beautiful trees from which they came. If, like us, you enjoy learning more about all trees weird and wonderful, you will love this latest discovery here on the Wacky Wood Uses portion of our blog.

Trees are already famous for their amazing photosynthesising properties – but the CityTree goes one step further. In a mission to reduce the high level of pollution in the city, Paris officials are trialling new “smart trees”, which combine a wall of moss culture with air pollution monitors. These three fascinating new installations filter fine dust and nitrous oxides (and resultantly large quantities of C02 equivalents) from the air, and – according to their creator, German start-up company Green City Solutions – are 275 times more efficient at reducing air pollution than normal planted trees. If the trial is successful, it is likely that the company will introduce many more of these vertical plant installations across Paris.

90% of inner-city populations regularly breathe polluted air, and 8 million fatalities are attributed to air pollution each year. Clearly, this is no minor matter, and it’s great to see the power of nature being harnessed in order to tackle this issue. Recently, these hi-tech “smart trees” have also been installed in central Berlin, Oslo and Hong Kong to help combat the city smog.

Awesome feats of bioengineering, the CityTrees utilise hardy moss (which can withstand temperatures ranging from -40 to 50 degrees Celsius) and recyclable materials. Highly environmentally viable, these sustainable installations are some of the most fascinating “trees” we have seen yet!

Here at Worktop Express we are committed to going above and beyond what is necessary to minimise our carbon footprint and give back to the planet. If you would like to learn more about our pro-environmental projects, please read our Environmental Policy page.

Here at Worktop Express, we are not simply obsessed with solid wooden worktops, we’re fans of anything made from solid timber. Though we see many a wooden wonder pass us by, it isn’t every day that we come across something that is both made of wood, and designed to appreciate the sounds of the forest in which the timber was grown.

Students at the Estonian Academy of Arts designed three giant wood megaphones which allow visitors of the forest to listen to the sounds of nature in undisturbed harmony.

Situated in a forest within the Pähni Nature Centre not far from the Latvian border, these pinewood megaphones enable visitors to experience the audible beauty of the untouched forests surrounding them. Estonia has a close affinity with nature – and trees particularly – as more than 51% of the country is covered in forests, and they are closely interwoven into Estonian culture.

Designed by Tõnis Kalve and Ahti Grünberg from Derelict Furniture, the project gained great interest from popular Estonian author Valdur Mikita, who has written a great deal about how Estonia’s culture is permeated by the vast number of local forests. Describing the project, he said: “It’s a place to listen, to browse the audible book of nature – there hasn’t been a place like that in Estonia before.”

The Estonian Forest Management Centre, who partnered the project from the start, hopes that the megaphones will – as well as providing a new way for visitors to explore the forest – also be used as shelter by people wanting to spend a longer time in the woods. “The space could be used to carry out an outdoor nature class or a small culture event, it’s really multifunctional,” said centre representative Marge Rammo.

Whilst most may not be lucky enough to visit the Estonian woodland where these megaphones are situated, there are still plenty of undisturbed areas of British woodland that are rich in life at this time of year; you can find your closest forest or woodland on the Forestry Commission website.

Here at Worktop Express we spend much of our time singing the praises of our undeniably gorgeous real wood worktops, but sometimes we come across fantastic wooden creations that we can’t help but share with fellow appreciators of all things ‘tree’-lated.

This week on the blog we would like to share a unique work of art by Havana-based carpentry collective, ‘Los Carpinteros’. This trio of cool Cuban artists have been carving wooden furnishings and creating other unusual designs since the early 1990s, but in 1999 they created one of their most iconic pieces yet, a giant wooden hand grenade.

Of course, this isn’t just any giant hand grenade, this 2 metre-tall solid wood creation features 36 separate drawers and is intended as a jewellery case. Whilst the shape makes it totally inconvenient, and it is unlikely that anyone could possibly fill each drawer to the brim with jewellery, the unusual design sure makes for a fascinating centrepiece in the exhibitions it has graced around the world.

If you find an unusual wooden creation you feel would justify coverage in our ‘Wacky Wood’ blog features, we would love to hear from you. Feel free to share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

We love bringing you some of the most unusual wood-related stories we stumble across on the internet, and this week we have news of a car that shuns conventional fuel in favour of running entirely on the fumes created by burning waste wood.

It was surprising to learn that gas from the burning of fuels has been considered as an alternative to petrol since World War II, when early wood gas generators were used during petrol shortages. Normal combustion engines need little adaptation to run on the fumes produced when clean timbers are burnt, making it an ideal alternative to standard fuels that produce far more harmful emissions.

Despite early explorations into the technology by The Swedish Government and Volvo, the biggest stumbling block for engineers that halted progress is that the size of the equipment required is far too cumbersome for most vehicles.

Though they are still relatively large, new wood gasifiers have now become considerably more efficient, meaning that around 75 percent of the energy is extracted from the wood during burning. Another benefit is that the ash residue that is cleaned out of the burner can be turned into organic fertiliser, and is free from harmful toxins.

If You Love our Kitchen Worktops, You’ll Love this Wood-Powered Chevrolet

Juha Sipila from Finland converted a classic 25-year-old Chevrolet El Camino into a wood gas-powered car, that is capable of firing the V6 engine pickup up to 90mph. The pickup can go for 125 miles before needing refuelling, but thanks to the extra storage capacity of his truck, he can carry fuel for up to 800 miles!

He said: “This shows how home-grown fuels can help us to cut oil imports. We now have a society here which is for people who are interested in converting cars to wood gas.”

Here at Worktop Express we use waste timber from the fabrication of kitchen worktops to fuel the warehouse burner that heats our entire warehouse and offices here in Gloucester. It remains to be seen whether we will one day be able to use worktop offcuts to power our fleet of delivery vans – watch this space!

We might all be wacky wood loons here at Worktop Express, but we can’t help it: we think anything made of timber is a real treat. When you are surrounded by such beautiful wooden workbenches every day, it starts to become part of the fabric of your life. It should be no surprise, then, that we are always on the hunt for some unusual wooden delights to sink our teeth into.

In this edition of ‘Wacky Wood’ we have dug up three beautiful, unique and downright curious wooden light fixtures that could add that extra-special little talking point in your kitchen – once you have finished lyrically waxing about our solid wood worktops, that is.

Carroll Street Woodworkers of Toronto

With a look that replicates liquid wood dripping from a ceiling, these unusual turned wood pendant lamps from The Carroll Street Woodworkers in Toronto rather caught our eye.

With a very natural, organic shape that is highly polished to show off the natural grain of the wood, these lamps would add a wonderful warmth to a modern kitchen, especially if suspended above a kitchen island with luxurious complementary walnut worktops.

The Mónoculo Design DSLR Paparazzi Lamp

This original wooden pendant lamp is based on the design of a reflex camera lens; carefully hand-crafted from white cedar wood and finished with a water-based varnish and beeswax, the lens hood can be reverse mounted or removed.

Replicating a real SLR camera, the DSLR Paparazzi Lamp features plenty of the detail you would find on a real lens, whilst the ‘hood’ lamp shade can be removed – depending on your preference.

Whilst cedar is not a wood you’ll find in the Worktop Express range, it is very similar in look to our maple worktops, and would also fit in nicely with the modern look of our highly sustainable bamboo worktops.

Spiral Sapin Pendant Lamp from Unique Lighting Co.

Whilst sleek modern lines and precise hand-crafted details look good in some kitchen environments, others suit the rustic simplicity of light fixtures such as this abstract wooden spiral light fitting from Unique Lighting Co. on Etsy.

Featuring all the natural character of French ‘sapin’ softwood, this pendant light fitting would look particularly in-keeping in a kitchen featuring other rustic or industrial design elements. We would suggest combining it with our oak worktops, which sometimes feature similar wooden knots.

That’s it for this edition of ‘Wacky Wood’, but if you happen to come across an unusual creation that you think we wood love, why not share it with us on one of our social media pages? You will find us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, whilst our Pinterest page has a wide variety of boards featuring plenty of other wooden delights.

We are always on the lookout for unusual uses of our favourite hardwoods, and when we came across the ‘ThreeStyle’ door from London-based Slamdoors, we knew we had to share it. You may be wondering how exactly a door qualifies as being wacky, but one look at the pictures should give you an idea.

With slightly tongue-in-cheek marketing referring to them as “passive gateways between environments”, these doors are anything but conventional, and are entertaining both to children and adults alike.

Like something that would seem more at home in Alice’s Wonderland, this three-piece door is a first of its kind in the world, and features a door within a door, within a door.

The smallest of the three doors is the ideal height for toddlers, whilst the middle door’s handle is positioned to be the perfect sized door for young children. Lastly, the outer door has a stainless steel handle at a height which would be much more familiar for fully grown folk.

The ‘ThreeStyle’ comes in three distinct finishes – solid maple or oak hardwood (a perfect match for kitchens with either our maple worktops or oak worktops), as well as a white painted redwood alternative.

Obviously, we’re partial to a bit of oak or maple, so those would be our preference – you simply can’t beat the unique aesthetic of solid wood. If you like the look of these unusual doors, head over to the Slamdoors website, whilst our own maple and oak timber worktops can be found on display in our Gloucester showroom.

The Walnut Frog Table Timber Tops

It has been a little while since we presented you with some truly wacky representations of solid wood in weird and wonderful forms.

When we came across this solid wood frog, we simply knew we had to share it with you here on the blog.

This curious carving by designer Hella Jongrius is whittled entirely out of a construction of solid walnut staves – much like our excellent European walnut worktops.

Jongerius’ work has been shown in design museums throughout the world, but this bespoke piece was created especially for a private collection in Rotterdam.

The frog is a highly polished walnut brown on one half, and covered in a translucent blue enamel coating on the other – a colour scheme that wouldn’t be out of place on a tree frog in the Amazon rainforest.

It was originally featured alongside a turtle coffee table constructed from multi-coloured resin, in Paris’ Galerie Kreo, where Jongerius held an exhibition in May 2009.

We are quite taken with this bizarre take on nature and the expression of such through the organic medium of solid timber. Being such a beautiful and hard-wearing wood species, we aren’t surprised that the designer chose to use European walnut. Though our own timber tops may not be quite as playful as this design, they are still a striking centrepiece for your kitchen, dining room and many other living spaces.

If you’re looking to create your own bespoke table, why not get in touch? Having just launched a range of solid oak restaurant table tops, our fabrication team have become quite adept at creating wooden masterpieces. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your requirements or use our exciting online bespoke worktop tool to dream up your own wooden masterpiece.

Whether used to create mysterious pathways to an unknown destination or an intricately carved masterpiece, hardwood has been a popular staircase component for hundreds of years. If your house is home to one of our beautiful worktops, then extend the beauty of wood into your home with one of these five inspiring staircases.

Wooden Staircase by YTL

Nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline, an ultra-modern home designed by Paris-based Jouin Manku houses many outlandish and futuristic interior design elements, requested by the extremely wealthy Malaysian owners.

The staircase is constructed by more than 30 hardwood ‘petals’ that are splayed in a spiral fashion to create a unique stairway that appears to float freely from the surrounding building. When viewed from above, the staircase looks like the inside of an intricate seashell.

View more photos of the house on

Spiralled staircase in the Peleş Castle

The Peleş Castle, north of Bucharest in central Romania, is an architectural marvel from the late 19th century, home to many incredibly decadent features that are typical of Renaissance palatial architecture of the time.

This amazingly tight, spiralled staircase joins the first and second floors of the main palace atrium, and is made entirely from hand-carved wooden sections that depict cherubs and German fairy tales.

View more photos of this astounding castle and other Romanian masterpieces on

Atmost Studio's Sensualscaping project

Atmost Studio are a London-based design and architectural studio that has created some exceptionally elegant designs using a combination of digital design and natural materials.

Perhaps the finest example of their work to date is the ‘Sensualscaping Stairs’, which were created entirely using a CNC machine; blending in with the overall design, these stairs follow the skirting board lines that trace their way throughout the house. Each oak stair is – like our worktops – made from a number of individual staves that are incredibly hard-wearing.

Read more about it on

Levitate Staircase

This masterpiece from Levitate – a literary-lover’s dream – can also be found in London. The stairs were specially commissioned for a private residence in a Victorian mansion block.

The staircase leads to a loft room and is constructed entirely from English oak and holds space for an entire personal library of books – perfect for book lovers, and an ideal space-saving solution.

Read more about it over on the Levitate website.

Design innovators TAF's staircase

Created by designers Gabrielle Gustafson & Mattias Ståhlblom, at Swedish design innovators TAF, this simple yet elegant staircase is made from boxes constructed out of pine staves. These boxes have been arranged at ingenious angles in order to create a steep staircase for a private Swedish residence.

The staircase was designed to be very low budget, whilst having a totally unique design, and could be replicated easily in other hardwoods such as oak or walnut.

View some other projects by TAF on their website.

We may not have branched out into stairs yet, but our solid wood worktops have been used for many types of home furniture from desks to dining tables. We also sell oak floating shelves which are made from the same solid oak surfaces as our worktops, and look simply stunning in a modern home.