Shou Sugi Ban 焼 杉 板 (or Yakisugi) is an ancient Japanese technique that preserves wood by charring it. Traditionally, Sugi, commonly called Japanese cedar, was used for siding and fencing. Japanese carpenters used the Shou Sugi Ban technique to achieve an artistic and unique finish that also improved durability of the wood.
Nowadays, designers and architects use other species of wood like western red cedar, douglas fir, cyprus, pine and oak. The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil.
In addition to exterior uses, this delicate technique is now applied in interior design, furniture, and artwork.
At a temperature of more than 1000°C, exposure to the naked flame will carbonize the different wood surfaces to different finishes and textures, while the wood core still remains undamaged. After cooling down, the furniture is treated and varnished to achieve the final appearance.
This is definitely a very time consuming process, but the final product is not only gorgeous, with its rich, silvery finish; the charred wood also resists fire, water, rot, insects, and can last up to 80 years.
Today, Shou Sugi Ban is an environmentally friendly way to preserve timber and making it fire, water and insects resistant. Chemical preservatives, paints, and retardants are therefore unnecessary in the making of the final product.