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

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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

#Woodturning – round and round it goes

www.wlwest.co.uk

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

Grown in Britain

www.wlwest.co.uk

PastedGraphic-3Since April of this year we have been involved in a national project called Grown in Britain. You may have seen the logo here, but if you haven’t you soon will.

The initiative was grown out of a mass public protest at government plans to sell of some of the public forests, and the subsequent inquiry chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool into the future direction of forestry and woodland policies for Great Britain. One of the recommendations that came out of the enquiry was for forest owners, processors and industry to work closer together to make more of our national forest resource.

A wide variety of people came together from forest owners and managers, sawmillers and

The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, addresses the launch event.
The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, addresses the launch event.

processors, construction companies, to retailers and everything in-between. The simple aims are to make more constructive use of our forests and the materials that grow their.

I was invited to be part of this initiative, on Tuesday this week I had the privilege to visit the House of Lords for the Launch of the report back to government on the last six months work. This has been led by Dr Peter Bonfield of BRE and was presented to the Rt Hon Owen Paterson, Secretary for State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

British Woodland has in parts been neglected for a number years, although this cannot be applied as a broad statement. Many forest owners are exemplary in their work, others not so. The softwood industries have been doing brilliant work and really have led by example. However, from the hardwood side there is much to do.

I remember Tony Blair using the phrase Education, Education, Education, well he meant it from a young person perspective, but the phrase rings true now. Only this time it is designers, specifiers, architects, builders and construction to name but a few that we must get the Hardwood message over to. Encourage them that there are more species out there, that timber does have knots and this can be worked into a project, you do not just have to use clear timber without knots. It does also mean that our industry must work harder and give our customers more information about timber and what it can and cannot do.

Cedar of Lebanon 061206 001Sir Harry Studholme – Chairman of the Forestry Commission said at the launch in the House of Lords on Tuesday, that this is not the end of the Grown in Britain process, but the beginning. There is much work to do, and I will be working with the GiB team to ensure our voice and contribution is given.

Please continue to follow our blog, have a look at http://www.growninbritain.org Grown in britainthere is a lot more information there, or on Twitter @GrowninBritain If you would like a copy of the Grown in Britain report: Creating a Sustainable future for our Woodlands and Forests. just click on the title.

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