Why Holly is Expensive Wood

Very tricky to saw and kiln dry, holly yields small amounts of useful wood and that makes it a pricey variety. April 19, 2006

I need a small amount of holly lumber for my segmented turning. I have found some, but why is the cost of this lumber so high compared to some other woods?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor B:
Same reason the price of oil is high and caviar is expensive. It's the first law of economics: supply and demand.

From contributor J:
The reason holly is a little pricey is that it is very hard to dry and keep straight. You generally cannot get large timbers, either. It grows kind of funny in the wild if surrounded by other trees, and doesn't get all that big. Also not as common as other hardwoods.

From contributor A:
I have cut a fair amount of holly for woodworkers that felt the same way about the price. In each case, they supplied the logs and we took extreme care with handling the boards I cut for them. They realized that even with great care in stacking and stickering and dedusting, it was extremely difficult to get the bright white holly that they were hoping for without a significant amount of degrade and warping. I have cut many other species for these folks and they have had great success in drying, but the holly seems to elude them. I'm satisfied that they now know why very nice holly commands such a premium price.

From contributor D:
I've dried a lot of holly in my vac kiln. To keep it white, you need to blast the water out. To keep it flat, you need a press. It's the worst stuff I've ever seen for warp.

From contributor C:
Supply and demand, tough to dry and keep from twisting. Landscapers get to see a lot of them being removed during refurbishing landscapes. In another lifetime, we took out a 16 foot tall holly with about a 14 inch base. Oh, if I knew then what I know now.