Unearthing the beauty of underwater wood

Certain materials are precious because of the unique combination of factors that lead to their existence.

The crushing pressure and intense heat that form diamonds, for example; or the layers upon layers of nacre that coat a grain of sand, turning it onto a pearl.

Ho Chi Minh City-based Justin Ephraim, the founder of Redux Wood, is on a mission to add underwater wood to that list. This uniquely beautiful material comes from rare tropical hardwood species that grew in forests, flooded during the creation of man-made freshwater lakes in Central America. After the trees themselves died, they remained submerged for decades.

Long seen as simply navigational hazards, the trees are finally being appreciated for the treasures they are. And with the combination of water and time, the trees have evolved their own distinct characteristics in shape, grain and texture. Harvested by local divers then dried and cut into large slabs billed as live-edge wood (meaning timber that retains its natural edge or visible bark as opposed to wood cut into symmetrical planks), the result is a handsome, ethically sourced product that is unlike anything obtainable from live growth.

Justin Ephraim, founder Reduxwood

“It’s amazing! You see a tiny dry twig sticking out of the water, but when you dive down you find an amazing 30 meter tall tree,” Justin explains. When pressed on his favorite wood, Justin names white mahogany for its two-toned grain. “My family calls it ‘pearl wood’ because its appearance reminds them of pearls – with the lights and darks making the wood appear almost iridescent.”

Starting out in forestry as a land surveyor on the North Shore Mountains of Vancouver, Canada some two decades ago, Justin later moved into wood construction, which led to a stint in real estate where he discovered his knack as a salesman. Combining his two passions, he joined a lumber distributor and wholesaler in Canada. Along the way, he met and married his wife who has family in Vietnam. When the recession struck, they decided to move to Vietnam, as they knew of the demand for lumber and wood products here. Initially, he worked for a lumber distributor but later, inspired by the growing local and regional economy, he opened his own lumber distribution company, Redux Wood. Justin sources his wood ethically and legally from around the world, ensuring all his products have CITES approval before importing to Vietnam. He learned the ins and outs of import regulations from his family here, who owns a large logistics and trading company. (The rice and sugar trade part of that company was turned over to Justin and his wife resulting in her gaining the title “Queen of Rice.”)

Custom Slab HD

While Redux deals with many kinds of live-edge woods, most of Justin’s stock is underwater wood. From the start, Justin has felt an affinity for this special material, which needs to be handcrafted to truly honor the beauty and uniqueness of each piece. The work is time-intensive. Underwater wood takes about two years to dry. During that time it has to be warehoused carefully, and only after that can it be finished and traded. Because he first acquired underwater wood stock two and a half years ago, it has only recently become ready for finishing and marketing.

While his main business is distribution, Justin does make custom pieces for clients. Like an artist, he lets the wood tell him what it should become and works to reveal the natural beauty of the piece before adding legs to create a one-of-a-kind product. As he puts it: “You have to have an eye for it. You look at a rough slab and sense there is something special there. Then you start sanding and the full beauty is revealed.”

Grain weathered

He takes as long as necessary to produce the best results, with a single table taking anywhere from one to six months to complete. Even though he has a team to do the initial work to his specifications, Justin finishes all the pieces himself.

Because many of the wood species Justin deals with are new to the Vietnamese market, some designers are initially unsure of how to use the wood. If he has one piece of advice for any retailer or designer interested in his pieces, it would be to simply “just try one.” It is just this approach that has paid off for him and inspired designers to give new life to old wood.

* Images provided by Reduxwood

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

How Carpet Cleaning Enhances Carpet’s life and Value?

Carpet cleaning can be painstaking when you have a large house and many carpets. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why people require the services of professional carpet cleaning companies that can quickly clean up your messes. However, carpets are not the only things you might need to clean up. When it

Read More »

The States That Have Legalized Marijuana So Far 2021

Are you interested in the legalization status of marijuana, especially in the United States, and want to learn more? Do you want to know where in the United States you could visit and still be able to smoke a joint legally? The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic in the United States for

Read More »

Understanding A Hoarder: Why Can’t They Throw Anything Away?

To provide an understanding and the process of hoarding, we must first understand its definition. Hoarding is defined as a single-minded urge of collecting and safekeeping unwanted items in great numbers. Most of the people afflicted with hoarding disorder find it hard to throw away items. A hoarder desires to save items that they know

Read More »

Vietnam War Student Protests

Where did the student movement begin? The US airplanes started bombing North Vietnam in February 1965 after North Vietnamese submarines invaded 2 US ships at the Gulf of Tonkin. President Lyndon B Johnson commanded the revenge attacks blasting armed targets in North Vietnam. There were some criticisms about how the government was battling the self-governing

Read More »

Instagram: different ways to post

Have you been away from Instagram for a while now and have come back to practically a whole new platform but have no idea what’s going on? Do you want to know what all of the various different features are the Instagram has to offer now and how to use them? Instagram is by far

Read More »

In Season: A List Of Colorful Plants To Plant in Your Garden

Planting flowers can directly benefit the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to humans and animals. Thus, improving the air quality. Moreover, there are different types of flowers you can choose from depending on your preferences. You may choose based on its colors or based on its symbolism. The wide variety of plants

Read More »