A few weeks ago I received a couple of blanks of bog oak from Ireland with a request for a chisel hammer and a dovetail marking knife. Here's a batch of hammer handles, it looks like a black sheep!
Bog oak comes from oak trees that fell into peat bogs around 5 million years ago. The cell structure of the wood collapsed but was preserved by the peat bog which turned the wood from dark brown through to jet black in colour. For furniture I like pieces that show the transition from the brown through to black but for small items like this the jet black looks stunning. The wood needs to be retrieved from the bog, no mean task, and then quarter sawn to give it the best chance of drying out without disintegrating. The drying needs to be done slowly and an enormous amount of water is extracted from the collapsed cells which leaves an extremely dense and hard timber when dry, it's almost like stone and is very similar in feel to African blackwood. There are a lot of cracks and shakes as well as areas of rot, so as you can imagine clean defect free boards are just about the most expensive timber you can buy.
Ireland is a good source as well as the fenland's of East Anglia.
I used a boxwood wedge to contrast the black. This hammer has real weight and feels great in the hand, I hope I've done this rare wood justice.