What type of wood are police truncheons made from? We are often asked what type of wood old British police truncheons were made from.
As there were quite a few manufacturers of police truncheons, and they were made for the police for well over a hundred years, there isn’t a single answer.
They are almost always made of hardwood. Softwood is generally regarded as being too light.
There is an assumption that they should always be made of a type of wood that is very heavy, but that isn’t always the case. If a truncheon was too heavy, it became a burden in the pocket of the constable carrying it.
Many years ago, a lot of truncheons were made from a wood called Lignum Vitae. That is a dense, heavy and dark wood from Central and South America. Antique truncheons made from Lignum Vitae are usually almost black in colour like this one from about 1920.
Lignum Vitae is regarded by most people to be both the heaviest and hardest wood in the world. Lignum Vitae has been used in the past for propeller shaft bearings on ships. Unfortunately, Lignum Vitae has been exploited to the brink of extinction and is now an endangered species. So truncheons stopped being made from it many years ago. If you can still buy it anywhere, you buy it by weight rather than length and it will cost a lot.
Oak is quite a popular choice. Here is an old Metropolitan Police truncheon we’d say was made of oak. There are around 500 species of oak around the world, so oak truncheons can often look quite different.
Beech, maple, ash and hickory are also woods commonly used in the manufacture of all kinds of truncheons, sports bats, batons, nightsticks and billy clubs.
Over in the US where they are very fond of weapons generally, specialist woodturners use all manner of esoteric woods to create a variety of modern-day truncheon style batons.
Photo credit: Friedberg Fabrication
The modern batons above are made to order by a specialist woodturner in the US and are made of Bloodwood, Desert Ironwood and charred Hickory. If you buy such a thing in the US, you may struggle to get it through UK customs in the mail, and it will be liable for import duty, handling fees and VAT if you did.
The classic old police design truncheons we sell here in the UK are made from Malaysian Oak, sometimes called Parawood or Rubberwood. It is a light-coloured medium-density tropical hardwood obtained from rubber trees grown in rubber plantations. Malaysian Oak is an environmentally friendly wood as it makes use of plantation trees that have already served a useful function.
Here is a photo of two of our classic truncheons during manufacture – before and during staining and finishing.
If you want a traditional British police-style wooden truncheon, we sell an exact replica of a 1960s Leeds City Police one (the ones you see above) with a leather lanyard at a very reasonable price. Click the button below to find out more.