@SANDSUK – Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity

In July I wrote telling you about our chosen company charity SANDS UK in support of one of our team and family members Chris West who, sadly, lost his son Oliver in March. Chris has a program of runs to raise money for this amazing charity.

I thought I would write an update after 10741190832_IMG_0085Chris’s latest run The Great South held in Portsmouth.

Chris had a bright sunny day for his run and a friend to run with. He set off at around 11:00 am along with around 20,000 other runners. He finished in 1 hour 34 Mins and 49 secs, in 6515th place out of over 20,000!! Quite an achievement, and not far off a new personal best time for Chris.

That is two runs of the six done – the Petersfield 10k and the Great South. His next run is the Portsdown Hill Remembrance Day run on the 10th November 2018. After this he has a bit of a rest before his 2019 challenges of The Chichester 10k (3rd Feb), The Surrey Half Marathon (10th March) and the Brighton Marathon (14th April). Chris had set his heart SOUD5974-cp20x30-19305on running the London Marathon as a finale, however, he did not get a place.

His target was to raise £3,500 for the SANDS charity, and through a lot of work and many generous friends, family, people we don’t know and businesses, Chris is 73% towards his target.

We as a supporter of Chris’s aims to raise this money want to support his in smashing his target and raise an even bigger sum to support families who sadly lose their children during and immediately after birth. The loss of a child is heart-breaking for the parents and their surrounding family, and this charity is key to supporting families at this traumatic time.

If you would like to read more about the work they do, you can at this link: www.sands.org.uk

If you are able to support Chris in his challenge please go to the following link.

SANDS WLW Chosen Charity

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@SandsUK – Our chosen Charity 2018 – 19

There are many Charities in the UK all doing great work, but normally it isn’t until you have a personal reason to need the resources of one of them, do you really understand their full benefit.

SANDS WLW Chosen Charity

One of our team and a member of the West family sadly had need of the resources of SANDS – The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity this year. This wonderful charity assisted immediately in the hospital by sponsoring a private family room that could be used while in the Royal Surrey County Hospital – Guildford. It continues to support the family through the trauma of losing a child and will well into the future.

Chris West has decided that he would like to give something back to the SANDS Charity by legging it – literally! He has already run the Petersfield 10K earlier this July. He is running the Great South Run a 10 mile run in October 2018, this is held in Southsea. He is running the Surrey Half Marathon in March 2019, this is located in Woking. Finally, he will be running the London Marathon in April 2019 (providing he gets his place – alternatively he will run the Brighton Marathon in April).

Chris has set an ambitious, but achievable target of £3500 to raise by the time he completes his final challenge of the London Marathon. He has made a flying start after the first run, but has a way to go. In truth he would like to smash and well exceed his target.

SANDS WLW Chosen Charity

There cannot be many of us who do not know someone who has lost a child. If you are able to support Chris in his challenge, however small the donation, each penny counts. The directors of W L West & Sons Ltd have made SANDS the chosen charity for 2018 -19. Click on either of the logos to go to the giving page.

On behalf of Chris, the Directors of W L West & Sons Ltd would like to thank you for any support you are able to give.

Follow SANDS @sandsUK  –  Charity Number: 299679

 

Hardwoods – Are we being respectful??

In my last blog I spoke about the fact that there will be specification reductions in Oak, and continued price increases. I also sowed the seed of thought that we should give timber a greater respect.

I recently visited Carrefour du Bois in Nantes. One of the largest timber exhibitions in Western Europe, and a great opportunity to speak to a wide variety of suppliers. The comments of my previous post were ratified with many, if not all the sawmillers and timber merchants that we spoke to saying that they are experiencing difficulties in sourcing good Oak logs.

I stood chatting to a UK friend in the industry about how we in the UK view timber, and the direction of our conversation led us to the conclusion that timber has become a commodity, an item on the shelf to be selected on a whim. In many ways disrespectful to a material that has been growing for decades if not centuries. As an analagy, we in the timber industry are being asked for ‘Caviar’ timber for ‘Burger’ prices. There seems to be no consideration for the whole process that goes into the production of the end product. Cheap seems to be the way in the UK. We saw a great example of this a few years ago when we tried to market some superb hardwood fence panels constructed with stainless steel fixings, where the British public spend hundreds of pounds on plants, they want cheap fence panels.

We regularly hear – No knots, no splits, no pin holes, no colour change. Why? Those features add character to the end product, they are natural, and environmentally, if we include them we can use more of the timber thus being more respectful to the original tree. We should be using more of the tree and creating less waste or by-product. Is it that we have lost the knowledge of how to utilise the whole tree? Have those skills really disappeared?

I think in the UK we possibly have the worst attitude to hardwoods in that we want the holy grail. Attitudes to a more varied quality really do need to change. A better understanding of timber from those designing and specifying need to be achieved and we in the industry need to encourage that to happen if we truly, as a country, want to be environmentally conscientious.  Our company tries very hard to ensure we utilise as much of the timber we buy as possible, this is not only an economic decision, its an environmental one as well, shavings recycled to animal bedding, slabwood to biomass and small offcuts to firewood.

So, moving forward, we need to think a little more about what we are using the timber for, do we really need clear, no knots timber? Could you use a different grade? Could we fill any knots and make feature? Have you really discussed this with your end client? Are they aware of the amount of waste that can occur from restricting specifications?

Come on UK, we can do better – Use Timber Wisely!!

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales Team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

Oak – It doesn’t grow on Trees!

IMG_1747I know, it’s an old joke but the inference could be nearer than we think.

I was at the first Timber Trade Federation conference on European Oak in April held in co-operation with the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry. There were representatives from the principle Oak producing countries in Europe. They gave some quite amazing/shocking statistics, and I describe it in that way because it is both of those things. I refer to the increasing demand by China for timber generally, and in this case Oak.

Now you might think what’s China got to do with the UK’s use of Oak? Well, an enormous amount as it happens. Their hunger for Oak in log form has grown by 244% in the last 7 years!! In 2010 the bought 183,362 tonnes of Oak, in 2017 this rose to 630,827!! For France this has risen from 101,160m³ in 2010 to 352,139m³ in 2017.

What is the impact of this? Well it doesn’t stop there, the barrel market is also extremely buoyant ( I guess all of us Wine and Whisky drinkers are responsible for that!). The barrel trade takes the very best, clear and straight logs, ironically, they then crosscut it into relatively short lengths.

The impact is that there is a reduction of available Oak in both log, plank and square edge form. Sawn timber production in France reduced by around 30% in 2008, and it really hasn’t increased much since. Oak prices have continued to rise over the past 10 plus years, and the consensus of the conference is that it is very unlikely that this trend of price increases will change. Availability of larger diameter and longer logs is also reducing. We have been Cherry picking those specimen logs for many years and this has resulted in larger diameter and longer logs being less available. So to continue the woe, this is topped of by the recent appalling winter weather preventing access to the land, shooting and hunting across Europe, which, unfortunately for our industry, takes a priority in the landowners eyes!

 

What about UK Oak stock? Well there is Oak available in the UK and some of it is very good. We need more landowners to start managing their woodlands and think about releasing some, not all of their timber stock. Selective felling is obviously a better, more aesthetic way of harvesting timber.  Can we be self-sufficient? I very much doubt it. The Grown in Britain campaign is championing this cause and it has definitely had an effect on the demand for UK, but we would be unable to meet the whole demand in the UK.gib-logo-dual

So what is the future for Oak? I think it is still rosy, but we need to be prepared for price increases. We also need to think about the grades we ask for and the application it is being used for. Is first quality really needed? Does the end customer understand character Oak? They may prefer the beauty that character Oak can bring.

We do have a responsibility to use timber more economically. Lets face it, its been growing for 100’s of years. Consider the price and the work that has gone to get it to the workshop bench. The tree has been (hopefully) looked after in the woods, thinning has been done to allow it to grow good and tall. An experienced forester has selected the trees to be felled, and a skilled tree feller has felled, trimmed and crosscut the log. A professional timber haulier has transported it to a sawmill where a sawyer, probably with decades of expertise will mill the log into whatever the log has been selected for. It doesn’t stop there. Further machining, cross cutting, planing and sanding will create the most wonderful pieces of joinery or furniture. So all in all, a lot of work to bring the humble Oak tree to a building near you.

Don’t forget there are alternative species for some uses, Ash, Beech, Sycamore to name a few. These seem to have fallen out of favour, but they can all have their place.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales Team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

Certification Body Change

We have changed our certification body (CB) to the Soil Association with effect from 23 June 2017.

This means that our FSC and PEFC certificate numbers have changed. These can be downloaded from our website at: http://www.wlwest.co.uk/about-us/certified-timber/

We have taken the decision to move our audit responsibilities from Exova BMTrada to the Soil Association following a review of our company certification. We appreciate that this impacts on our customers that also have chain of custody certification, and apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Make the most of Timber!

IMG_7262As part of the construction industry, the timber trade is one of the oldest parts of it. But are we making the most of the timber we use? Could we be more aware? Could we reduce the wastage and get more from the timber? Haven’t we got a responsibility to make the most of a piece of timber that may have been growing for up to 200 years?

The answer to all of these questions is yes!!

Often our salesIMG_7675 team get asked for wider boards and longer lengths of timber, which we are happy to supply where required. However, often, either in passing, or after extensive conversation about the customers project, we find that the 200mm wide board that we have been asked for (and could be harder to find) is being ripped down into 4 x 45mm width boards. Similarly, the customer who insists on 5m long boards we discover is cutting them into 2 x 2.5m lengths!!

IMG_1197I could say ‘It doesn’t grow on trees’ but obviously it does, but for how long? The trees that make those long lengths and wider boards are in the minority they are not the norm. So please, when you are ordering, tell your supplier what your end sizes are, you may find that they can offer a more competitive price, and we make more out of a natural product that has been growning for decades.

Our industry has an environmental duty to make the most out of our natural resource, please, think when you order.

Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales Team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk

Grown in Britain Licence – Achieved

gib-logo-dualHardwood sawmilling in the UK is probably one of the oldest of the construction industries, indeed here at W L West & Sons Ltd we can trace our tangible company links back 152 years to 1865 in the West Sussex and East Hampshire area, and family links in the forestry and timber industry back over 200 years!

But what of the future of UK hardwood industry? Well we feel it’s got a great future. We are proud to have been involved in the Grown in Britain project from its inception in 2013. We understand that there is a hunger for Great British timber, and img_5267from our point of view this means hardwoods. Over many decades we have relied on European imports, mainly of Oak, to meet our demand, and, to be honest, that probably will not change. The consistency of supply, consistency of quality and size will probably dictate this. However there are British hardwoods out there. I have recently bought and milled some great Hampshire Oak, the quality is good, the diameters were good, but the usable length shorter than we find across the channel. This parcel of Hampshire Oak is our very first timber that we can now label as Grown in Britain timber. There really hasn’t been a better time for British timber. With the advent of Biomass, we should be able to use all of the different grades of timber found in a tree, from joinery, beam, fencing to heat and power.

img_7668In October 2016 we employed Andy Grundy from the Soil Association to conduct an audit on our procedures to enable us to get a Grown in Britain licence.  All went well and we received our licence in January 2017.

We feel that it is important to actively support and grow the UK timber market. Sadly, there is a lot of woodland in GB that is currently unmanaged, but probably has some great timber on it. Our thirst for timber products continues, but our choice of species has got very narrow, with Oak being the key hardwood species being used. So, if img_7554you are someone who specifies hardwoods, what about Sycamore, Ash, Beech these species are all out there. Elm is a great timber, but sadly stocks are becoming rarer each year, but there is still some stock available. Let’s all start thinking outside of the box and support Grown in Britain timber.

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Don’t forget, for all of your hardwood and joinery softwood requirements…………………

Call our Sales Team on 01798 861611 or email: sales@wlwest.co.uk