The virtue of Fire - Shou sugi ban / Burning wood finish treatment

In most survival situations, fire is a true asset. A fire will give you light, warmth, help purify water, signal, dry wet clothes, cook your food and make a pleasant companion but it can also burn through most material or in this case provide a layer of protection to another material.

Yakisuki; Ancient Japanese technique to preserve wood. Yaki means to heat with fire, and sugi is Cypress .also called Shou Sugi Ban in the west which refers to burnt timber cladding 

Typically done with cedar it's essentially a fire hardening of wood technique, a carbonization of the surface.

By slightly charring the surface of the wood without combusting the whole piece, the wood becomes water-proof through the carbonization and is thus more durable It also protects against insects, as well as making it fire retardant.


 Why we like it :

Here at Leafted, we are fueled by the elements, and truly passionate about the results and benefits of their combination.

The aim of Leated is to use a maximum of natural materials to craft our products and keep a sensitivity to the surrounding environment they will live-in as well as the effect of time and elements that will be applied to them.

We want our product to sustain the effect of time, we want our product to age and develop a patina, we want them to become unique based on YOUR usage..

-the natural beauty of things like rust, burnt wood or even simple patina developed over time is the direct result of element combination, creating most often intricate patterns and beautiful colors while giving each and every piece a very unique and timeless visual appeal.

Treating materials in traditional ways and, more specifically combining natural elements,is a direct adoption of principles that have long been fundamental to Japanese architecture: simplicity and sustainability, 

We are always looking to create unique products for your campervan or adventure vehicle, this is why we created the vanshelf, we also love to create one-off and unique products, this technique reveals the unique grain of the wood and reveals the very intricate/ natural beauty of each table. 

check out our BURNT collection 


History of Yakisugi:

"it's a process  known as Shou sugi ban, a ­centuries-old Japanese ­technique for preserving and finishing wood by charring it with fire. The treatment, which leaves behind a dense, carbonized layer of blackness has been around since at least the 18th century, though earlier examples exist.' my self reliance youtube channel

It began as a practical process used mostly for fencing and the facades of rural homes and storehouses, which held valuables, like rice, that families hoped to protect from blazes. " new york times.


"The combustion also neutralizes the cellulose in the wood — the carbohydrates that termites, fungus and bacteria love — making it undesirable to pests and resistant to rot. The resulting charcoal layer repels water and prevents sun damage as well. By some estimates, boards that have undergone this process can last 80 years or more, but Japan’s Buddhist Horyuji Temple in Nara prefecture, whose five-story pagoda is one of the world’s oldest extant wooden structures, has been around for much longer. Initially built in A.D. 607, the pagoda caught fire and was rebuilt in 711 using Shou sugi ban." new york times

But it’s arguably the elegant beauty of charred wood — elemental, enigmatic and modernist at its core — that is shou shugi ban’s greatest appeal

Today Shou Sugi Ban is an environmentally friendly way to preserve timber and (paradoxically) make it fire-resistant. Chemical preservatives, paints, and retardants are therefore unnecessary

« we might take a lesson from the Japanese, who view the patina that comes with age as desirable. The impermanence and its attendant imperfections are the point « anthony Esteves ;



photo credit ; time travel turtle 

the technique :

The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with natural oil.

 Though traditionally, three Japanese cedar boards are bound to form a long triangle and a fire is started within the resulting tunnel

image credit

Brushing the burned boards removes the char and lightens the hue while oiling them brings out the natural grain (  tung oil or vegetable oil  will protect from erosion and reveal the natural grain of the wood and enhance the rich colors resulting in this process)  


Typically wire brushed then covered with oil treatment, those pieces of wood are now protected, unique and beautiful 


regarding wood choices and the different finishes you can create ;

'Pay attention to your choice of wood species, a softer, durable and stable lumber works best like cedar or pine.. Traditionally, cryptomeria japonica was used for Shou-Sugi-Ban. You’ll want to get a good char depth on the surface, aim for 1/8”. After you’ve charred the wood, you may want to clean the surface with a wire brush to open up the grain. You’ll notice the character of the wood will change to a dark brown color. If you feel that it needs a coat of oil, use boiled linseed oil. You can use a rag to work a few coats into the wood.':wc studio 

Depending on the depth of the burning process and the amount of brushing applied to it, different finishes will be obtained.

image credit ;


here is a quick summary of how to create this amazing protective finish .


check out our BURNT collection 



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