In love with yew

Discover the story behind our first ever English yew

We are frequently asked whether we use English woods but aside from English walnut and the occasional piece of English oak, we generally tend to steer clear of native woods for no other reason than they don’t often lend themselves well to being used to make kitchen knife handles.

However the exception quite often proves the rule – and in this case, English yew has proved to be a quite extraordinary material to work with, quickly establishing itself as one of our absolute favourites.

The story of how we came to be in possession of the English yew is rather lovely. Read on to discover more…

The Story of Yew

The story begins with a very old, very beautiful Yew tree situated in a churchyard in Hampshire that happened to be growing in a less-than-ideal spot. The Anglo American couple living next door – Susan who is English and Donald, who hailed from Massachusetts – greatly admired the tree and so, when the decision was made that it needed to be chopped down, paid to have it properly felled to make sure as much of the wood could be preserved as possible.

Sadly Donald later became ill and subsequently passed away, and when Susan came to clear out his workshop, Neil, an existing customer of ours suggested she get in touch with us, as they’d both been very taken with the knife we made for him when he showed it to them.

In return for a donation to the local hospice in which Donald spent his final days, Susan gave Laurie some of the yew for him to make knife handles from. Finding good yew is tricky, and knowing that Donald (who was an expert woodworker) had taken care of the selection, drying and storage means that we know it’s of an exceptional quality.

It’s the first time we’ve used yew, let alone English yew. And the resulting handles are breathtakingly beautiful, the wood an absolute joy to shape and polish.

Heirlooms in the making

With a lifetime guarantee on our knives, when you commission a Savernake from us you’re buying something that, with proper care and attention will give you many years of service, not to mention enjoyment.

So it makes sense that if you’re buying a knife set, set of steak knives or a carving set that you consider the materials you’d like their handles to be made from and choose something that will age beautifully over time.

Memories are made over food, whether that’s getting the whole family together for a special Sunday roast, enjoying a romantic ‘steak night’ with your loved one or simply catching up with the day’s happenings around a week-night supper.

This is just one of the reasons our knives make such great gifts, even for non-cooks. Whether it’s carving the roast, slicing into a fine fillet or simply slicing up some veggies to chuck into a pot for a quick midweek meal, our knives help make all these occasions special.

Why not start your own family tradition and start creating new memories for years to come.

It’s all about yew

Make it personal

Inspired to use English yew for your next knife? Design your perfect custom knife using our configurator and select Satinwood as the material with a note in the comments box to let us know you’d like us to use yew – or drop us a line if you have something special in mind or would like to create a set.

‘Last July I ordered a knife and a magnetic sheath as an engagement gift for my daughter and her boyfriend. Needless to say they were delighted with it, and at Christmas my wife decided to buy them a matching steel. Much to my surprise she also bought a second steel for me…. I suspect she was fed up with my grumbling about knives not holding their edge. I have to say I am blown away by the quality of the steel and the results it produces on my existing knives, and I said that I would at some point get myself a matching knife. I’ve got a birthday coming up, and rather than buy me stuff I don’t need, I’ve been told that a matching knife has been ordered, which I’m chuffed to bits about.”

– Alan Stephenson – Savernake customer