#Woodturning – round and round it goes

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Woodturning Course Feb 2011 003v2Wood is a wondrous material, being able to be put to so many different uses. From enormous structural beams to delicate wood turnery and carving. Woodturning is the subject of this article.

There are so many beautiful species of woods that can be turned into wonderful things. Commercially you can see turned items in staircases, in furniture even in the construction of garden gates. But it is also available on a much smaller scale for everyone who has an interest in or passion gary bowl 01for wood.

There is sometimes a misconception that you need a vast workshop to enable you to be able to start woodturning, but this Record CL1could not be further from the truth. A starter lathe can be bench mounted and take up a very small amount of space. We can help you with your choice of lathe and woodturning tools. We work closely with Record Power to source the correct machine for you.

You may not have even turned before, we can help you there as well. We have a diary of Woodturning courses for 2014

22 & 23 Jan 2014 19 & 20 Feb 2014

19 & 20 Mar 2014 16 & 17 Apr 2014

21 & 22 May 2014 18 & 19 June 2014

Have a look at http://www.wlwest.co.uk/small-user-and-enthusiast/courses  to find the application form for the course.

Finally if you have any questions on a species of timber, a machine or indeed the wood turning courses themselves, please call our shop on 01798 861611. They will be only too willing to help you.

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

Modern Meets Traditional

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A chance meeting and subsequent conversation with an Architectural Technologist recently has led me to read his CPD blog, you can too at: blog.konstrukshon.com . His ability to look at the things that surround us inspired me when I visited London last week. The day was bright and warm and I decided to wander east along the south bank from the Tate Modern Gallery  to Tower Bridge. It is amazing, London must have one of the most diverse mixes of Buildings of any city in the UK.

globeNot far from Borough Market is the reconstruction of Shakespeares Globe theatre. Framed in Oak, it has used traditional construction methods to recreate the atmosphere of yesteryear London.

I carried on along the south bank towards Tower Bridge passing Boris’s Office of the Lord Mayor of London, and across the bridge to St Katherines docks. There has been a dock here since 1125, and similar to the rest of London, has an amazing history. Today it has been converted to offices, apartments andGloriana credit DC07703 Daren clarkev3   leisure facilities, with the dock used as a marina. Here I found the current home of the Gloriana a boat built to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee last year, and one that we had pleasure in supplying timber for. Have a look at my post from last year.

Now on the north bank of the Thames, I made my way Eastwards back towards the oak in london building 002Millennium bridge. Past the Tower of London, and nearer to the traditional seat of finance in the City of London. I wasn’t rushing and in a moment I had to do a double take, amongst the acres of glass were huge baulks of Oak holding the fascia of a building up. On further investigation I found that the building is the home of Nomura – a Japanese financial services company in London. This was the first Carbon Neutral building in London. Designed by Fletcher Priest Architects on the site of a former telephone exchange, it is a brilliant example of how one of the oldest materials known to man – Oak Beam, can be incorporated into a hi-tech building with acres of glass. It looks amazing and if you have an hour spare in London, its well worth a walk along the river. You can see it easily from the south bank as well.oak in london building 005v2

So my jaunt finally brought me back to the Tate Modern, a former power station, recycle, recycle, recycle.

oak in london building 003Timber? A natural resource, a renewable resource, an amazing resource, and one we must encourage more architects to use.  Mix it with Glass, Stainless Steel, Stone, Brick you name it and it will look good with it. Brilliant, what an amazing material our industry has available.

Dave West

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

12 Days of Christmas – Timber Style

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M0037We would like to wish all of our customers Past, Present and Future a

VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR

Walnut burr 2 (2)On the First day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. One WALNUT BURR – can be supplied with a Partridge when in season!, immediately available this Burr is well seasoned and will reveal some beautiful features when cut. This is a very large Burr standing approx 1.4 x 1.6m at its widest points.

On the Second day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Two Curved Style Gates ideal for Doves to perch on. Curved Braced Gates Sept 2010 003Our skilled gatemakers will make you a superb Curved Style gate or any hardwood gate that you desire in any quantity, just give our team a call.

Boothman 009_2On the Third day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Three dozen or more square metres of 200mm width flooring (raw material from France). Manufactured in our own workshops to your order, this beautiful hardwood flooring will grace your house for years to come.

On the Forth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Four hardwood worktops,PRO Site 001_2 first class to carve your four calling Christmas birds on. All of our hardwood worktops are bespoke, made to your own sizes in our West Sussex workshop. Making a spectacular feature in your kitchen. For Worktops page click here.

Australian and exotic 008On the Fifth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Five Turning Blanks, ready cut Rings of hardwood for our Wood Turning enthusiasts. Many different species, sizes and thicknesses on stock. Pop into our shop and have a browse.BALL2

On the Sixth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Six Oak Beams, beam 003v2we’re not sure about the Geese laying, but the well air drying Beams are laying in our yard. Various sizes available, these beams are sourced for their Air Drying qualities. We are able to offer planing and profile cutting facilities for beam as well.

Spalted BeechOn the Seventh day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Seven cubic feet of Spalted Beech, well – not the correct beach to see Swans on, but beautiful when used in furniture. Available in Through & Through boards 100, 80, 54 & 50mm thicknesses.

On the Eighth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Eight fencers a Picture 172v2Fencing, well their not quite milk maids but they can fence a dairy pretty quickly. Yes, we have a Fence Installing Department as well. Trading as PRO Fencing and based in Farnham, Surrey our team can supply and install all types of fences. From timber fences and gates to steel security and ball court systems. Give Martin or Chris a call on 01252 726391 email: enquiries@profencing.co.uk

008On the Ninth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Nine Country Oak Doors, these will definitely get your Ladies a’dancing when they see them hung in your house. Again manufactured to your sizes in our West Sussex workshop out of beautiful Quercus Robur – Oak to you and me, these can be either Ledged and Braced or just Ledged. We can offer discounts on higher quantities.

On the Tenth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Ten Aussie Australian and exotic 005Burrs although you might not need ten! These will get the Lords a’leaping when the’re turning into elegant platters. We import these directly from Western Australia. Selected individually by our supplier these are amazing pieces of Australian timber. Available in Coolibah, Brown Mallee, Sheoak, Red Gum, Jarrah, Yellow Box, Silky Oak and White Top. As these are aimed at the craftsman they are in smaller sizes, call our shop or email them on shop@wlwest.co.uk for details.

DSC00089On the Eleventh day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Eleven different mouldings, well, we can mould most moulding to your design with all tooling made in house. Even for Organ Pipes!! Yes if you have a requirement for moulded timber for whatever use, give us a call. We can manufacture from scratch to your drawings or we can match most historic moulding. Give our mouldings page a glance, there are many example of styles of moulding there.

HOLLY2On the Twelfth day of Christmas my Timber Merchant brought to me…….. Twelve cubic feet of Ash for TT Oak March 2011 028v2the hoops, Oak for shell and Yellow Pine for the inner hoop for our Drum customers. Yes, we have drum customers we supplied both Through and Through and square edge timber to them. So I think you can see we can meet most requirements for timber. Just call our sales team on 01798 861611 or email sales @wlwest.co.uk

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

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

New EU Timber Regulations ……. are you prepared?

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Are you aware of the European legislation that will affect ALL timber traders from next year?

With effect from 3 March 2013 – Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 (EUTR) comes into force. This piece of legislation has been in discussion for some considerable time and has been commented on by many different organisations. Our input has been through our membership of the Timber Trade Federation. You can click on the title of the legislation above to go direct to the EU website.

The legislation covers most timber products (excluding recycled) and mandates everyone involved in the supply chain to prove that the timber has originated from legal sources. The legislation classes the timber trade into two categories, Operators – these are people who place timber for sale for the first time in Europe, and Traders – who are people who in the course of a commercial activity, sell or buy within the European market.

Quite a few of us we will be classed as Traders. In simple terms, this means that we have to prove who we purchase timber and timber products from, and who we sell them to. This information must be kept for at least 5 years.  Most of us have some type of purchase and sales invoicing system and this will provide the framework to meet the legislation. From our point of view, we are meeting our EUTR obligations by being signatories to the Timber Trade Federations – Responsible Purchasing Policy. A mandate of membership which is audited every year.

For Operators the requirement is more onerous. Operators must prove that the timber or timber product being placed onto the European Market for the first time is from legally harvested timber. Evidence of a robust due diligence system must be demonstrated. The due diligence systems must be periodically audited to maintain the robustness of the legislation.

But beware – it is possible that even if you are a Trader and therefore purchasing within Europe, if it is proved that you have been supplied illegal timber, and you have received it unknowingly, you can still be liable to prosecution and confiscation of product!!

We are in the favourable position of being ahead of the game with our trade federation, but our feeling is that there are many businesses out there who are oblivious to this new law. This is very concerning, we feel that there are many craftsmen and traders that do not know about the legislation or think it does not apply to them. If you feel that you are unsure, then you really ought to make some enquiries. It is better to be sure than face a prosecution through lack or research.

You can gain more information from the following website:

Timber Trade Federation – EU Timber Regs Guidance

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

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

Family Heritage in Business – Is it important?

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How many old established family businesses do you know?

Obviously that is a very broad question, so lets narrow it down a little. What about family businesses that are 50 years old? I guess that you probably do. There must be hundreds if not thousands across the UK.

So how about 200 years? Well we are sure that Walter Luke Wests’s father (W L West) – James was born in 1799. In the 1851 census, James was 52 years of age, was married to Elizabeth and had 6 sons and 3 daughters (that were recorded at his address). His occupation was described as a ‘WOOD REVE’. We are struggling to find out what a ‘reve’ is, if indeed that is the correct translation of quite an old text! Four of his sons were described as Labourers in the woods. So clearly they were in the timber industry. Now, remember that James was 52 in 1851, it is probable that he would have started work at 14 or 15 years of age. So, we are sure that this is a tangible link that our hertiage in timber goes back at least 197 years!! It would not be unfair to assume that James’s father would have also been in the timber industry, but sadly, we cannot substantiate this. We have found Walter Luke West in the 1901 census, and was listed with wife, four young children, one daughter and three sons. His occupation was described as a Sawyer Timber.

What we do have are tangible records from 1865, these are timber felling records not disimilar to records used today to record timber purchases. These were James West’s buying records. The business as we know it today was formed in the first part of the last century by Walter Luke West and one of his elder sons Cecil. From that point there have been many many West’s involved in every part of the business.

So back to my headline – Is family heritage in business important? Well I guess that I am prejudiced, I am part of the W L West heritage, but we think it is important. Working with family is challenging, probably more so than non-family business, but it is also rewarding. The knowledge that what we have today stems from something 3 centuries ago is mind-blowing. Family businesses also ensure that there is a wealth of product knowledge handed down from father to son, cousin to cousin and so on. It is imperative that this knowledge is not lost. Our chairman is now into his mid seventies, but that doesn’t stop us asking him for an opinion or him from taking an active interest in what goes on, and long may the knowledge tree exist.

Sadly there are many family businesses that are going out of business, some because of the economic climate, but some because there is no natural family progression or the family is not interested. To date we have not had that problem. My grandfather – Walter Luke West (W L West) had 15 children (no TV in those days!) and we understand he was one of 12 children.

How big is that Oak Tree?

Running a business always has its tough times, but we try to make ours one big family.

So – are family businesses important? Well we think so.

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

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

The Mighty Oak – The most versatile timber in Europe!

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The Mighty Oak

What a grand name for one of our favourite natural species, to give it its full botanical name ‘Quercus Robur’. It has to be one of the most versatile European species, indeed probably one of the most versatile in the world. But then, I am biased – being Oak sawmillers!!

So what can you use Oak for then? Well its quite a long list.

Building – for constructional purposes ….. beams, (Oh! by the way, did you know that in a fire an Oak Beam behaves better that a steel joist? The Oak will charcoal on the outside and give the inner timber a bit of protection whilst still maintaining strength, where steel gets soft in heat and will bend. Of course nothing will survive a severe fire, but it is an interesting point).

Joinery – windows and doors, the heartwood of Oak has good durability even when left untreated, the sapwood will decay and be susceptible to insect attack, the heartwood is not. When treated correctly with a good timber treatment it will last even longer. Untreated it will turn a wonderful silvery grey.

Flooring and second fix items – By second fix we mean skirting’s, architraves, picture rails and much more. Flooring can be strip or parquet. Used internally the sapwood performs as well as the heartwood. The only difference is that visually it can be a quite different colour. We have many discussions with customers on this subject, from our point of view it is not considered a defect and will be measured in when we sell Oak plank. Furniture makers do not always like it. But it can give a stunning contrast in the right place.

Furniture – Of course, furniture has been made from Oak for centuries, and most of it will outlast us. Tables, Chairs, Beds, Dressers the list is only limited by our imagination.

Fencing & Gates – A traditional Oak fence will last years, match it with a beautiful hand made gate, and your garden and property will look amazing. Oak gates are something that we pride ourselves on. Our family has been making gates for decades, I could probably say centuries. Around Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire you can see examples of our craftsmanship that were made 30 or 40 years ago and are still is service.

I’ve probably missed a lot of uses out, so tell me in a comment.

What do we look for when we buy Oak? Well, if we are buying Oak logs we generally prefer to buy when the trees have been felled and are at roadside. This enables you to get a better idea of the quality of the timber.

Is it straight? Does the bark twist in a spiral? This often indicates twist in the timber as well, as the bark will normally grow in the same direction as the grain of the tree.

Has it got ring or star shake? This can sometimes be caused by the type of ground it is grown on and will almost definitely result in stresses in the timber, which will cause problems when cutting or machining it.

Can we get a good length to the first major stop? By this we mean to the first branch, clearly, where the branches are there will be what we term ‘a defect’ inside the log – a knot. Some small knots are acceptable, indeed they can disappear inside of the log. But larger ones cannot be worked around, especially if they are dead knots. Oh, yes, Dead knots are loose and in some cases have fallen out resulting in a hole, live knots are permissible dependant on size – these are ones that are firmly in place and have no chance of falling out.

Has it got good colour or is it patchy? Colour can sometimes run quite a way into the log, and sometimes it will taper out in a few centimetres. On occasion we find a Brown Oak log, this is where a fungus called Fistulina hepatica or more commonly known as beefsteak Fungus. A good consistent colour right through the tree is great and we can do something with it, but all too often it can be seen at the base, but not the top and will only go a few feet in, this then causes a patchiness of colour – which again, not all of our customers will accept.
So, what about sawn Oak? Well we do buy in two different forms, Through & Through (waney edged where we sliced the tree into plank but left the shape of the tree) and Square Edge where the timber has been cut to dimensions. In the main we use much of the criteria used on buying a tree and apply it to both of these methods of buying – is it straight grained, free of unacceptable defects (knots), good colour, minimal splits, minimal surface checking.

We do buy Through & Through already kilned from Europe, but we inspect and reject. Each plank is turned over and inspected and either accepted or rejected. We only buy what we feel meets our customers requirements. With square edge, this is graded more specifically and we can choose the grade to fit our customers needs.

So, what are the benefits? Well, by buying Through & Through that is already kiln dried, we can get it to market immediately. If we had cut it ourselves we would have had to air dry it for 1 year for each 1″ (27mm) thickness. Now, we do still sawmill our own logs but we also purchase kiln dried as well. Its a good mix.
With square edge we have the same benefits as Through & Through, plus we have now reduced the wastage by cutting it to widths. Theses are random widths and we sell ‘as arising’, meaning from the top of the stack. So we have again additional benefits.

Well, I am sure I have missed masses out about The Mighty Oak, but I guess you get the message – it is probably the most versatile European species available!!

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

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

John O’Groats to Lands End ..by Pedal Power – Days 3 & 4

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The team set off on Sunday morning from Ballachulish with one of the biggest challenges of the trip .. the ascent of Glencoe and the onward 130 miles to New Cumnock. After a split start for the team, some stated before 6am!

The pathfinders had a spoke problem with one of the bikes. The later starters got away by 7.45. Having climbed 1150 ft up Glencoe, they enjoyed a bacon sarnie breakfast . The day concluded 7.5 hours and 135 miles later in New Cumnock. An amazing cycle!

This morning (Monday 9/07) the team started off aiming for the English border. The weather was being its current normal self, starting with rain and ending in sunshine. Today’s ride was a little kinder with a trip of 95 miles, which ended in Penrith around 5pm.

It appears that the team may well be collating material to write the cyclists guide to JOG to LE B&B’s !! Every evening we have tales of blatant luxury and after dinner tales that appear gourmet in the least. Are they really cycling?

Well good luck for Day 5 in the saddle guys, glad its you not me.

Is that a whole Lobster in your mouth Gerard?

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