150 Years in the Timber Industry

wlw logo v6 1865-2015There are not many companies that can boast 150 years in business !! But we can!

www.wlwest.co.uk

Donald & Cecil West 1930s with mother at New rd site
Donald  with Cecil West and Mary, their mother in the wheelbarrow

This year we are celebrating 150 years in the timber industry. We have standing timber records back to 1865 (see below), these were used to record the dimensions of the round timber being purchased. To be honest, it is probable that these were not the first records, our current family members can trace their Great Grandfather – James West, back to the 1851 census. He was aged 52 and described as a ‘Wood Reve’ – which, according to Collins Dictionary was a ‘Steward responsible for wlw timber records 004a wood’. 

So ….. the West family have been in the timber industry for a long time. Indeed of Walter Luke West’s 15 children, yes you read right, 15 children, 6 of the sons were wlw timber records 001involved with the business at some time. Latterly various members of the family have been involved, some long term and some dipping in and out at various times.

  

Sawmill Severals road midhurst 1912_1918
An early sawmill 1912-1918

The foundations of the current company were laid in the 1920/30’s by Walter Luke West and Cecil Owen West – Father and Son and Grandfather and Uncle of two of the current directors. Initially working in the woods, the early premises were located on a corner of the railway yard in Midhurst. working with steam to power the saws. Slowly additional ground was purchased, with Dr Richard Beeching MP increasing the availability of land with his cuts of the railways. We eventually bought the whole  site and developed our sawmilling there until 1986 when we moved to our current location.

Our directors have included members of the family for the whole of our history. Family members are still on the board of directors which also includes Simon Smith as one of our Joint MD’s and Heather Rickards who is our Accounts Director, both of which have over 20 years each with the company.

WLW Steam engine 1951 being towed to Ansells
Our static steam engine being towed to a new owner

I had a look at the current team here, and in particular the members that are involved in the timber production. Of the 16 people involved in the various stages of buying, selecting, converting and manufacturing timber products, there is 469 years of experience in our industry.

Unloading at New Road 1960s
Unloading Oak in the 1960’s

The timber industry in the UK has changed over the years, that has meant changing with the times. We focus very much in working with our clients on projects, many of which we work with for many months working through to project conclusion. Our portfolio is wide reaching these days, spend a few minutes having a look at our website – http://www.wlwest.co.uk it includes machined and profiled timber, cladding, worktops and bartops, bespoke gates, beam timber and much more.

What is clear, if you have a project that includes timber, having a chat with us is a good idea. We would love to get involved with your projects.

 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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Grown in Britain

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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

How Green is your Timber Merchant?

Solar panels 011‘Green credentials’ are certainly topical buzzwords. Businesses are changing the ways they are working, from product sourcing to waste management to Power Generation. As long established Timber Merchants (we have good reason to believe that our forebear’s might have supplied Nelson’s navy!!) we feel that we have been green and managed our bi-products (we hate the word waste) very well over the years, and therefore feel we are very Green. But there is always room for improvement.

The recession has made every business review nearly everything they do and buy to make sure their purchasing decisions are cost effective. I know we have, and reviewed them again and again.Solar 003

So in the middle of 2012 we started investigating the possibility of installing Solar Panels to generate some of our own energy. It seemed a good thing to do given the UK Governments contribution for 20 years through a Feed In Tariff payment scheme. We approached two companies based in the South East of England and after a couple of proposals, we appointed a company called Solar Resources as our supplier. To enable the project to move forward we contacted the Carbon Trust to find a suitable funder, this was achieved with Siemens Finance. So when we came back to work in the New Year the scaffolders moved in, the panels were delivered and in mid-January the engineers started the installation of a 80Kwh system.

Once all of the preliminary work is done, surveys, structural checks etc, the install is done very quickly, and on Thursday 31 January 2013 we generated our very first Kilowatt of power. Being a sawmill we are a major user of electricity, so we anticipate that the 80kwh system that we have installed will supply approximately 24% of our demand. Not much you might think? But you want to see our electricity bill!!

To date we have generated 7904kwh in 4 months, and the weather has not been brilliant, so shine sun, shine!!

But that’s not the end of the Green story, oh no.

Chipping 012There was a time when our ‘bi-products’ had to be almost given away to get rid of them, now all bi-products have a value. What do we call a ‘bi-product’? Well, there are three main products:

  • Slabwood – this is where we are cutting logs and flatten the round sides of the log or where we are cutting a length of timber to width. These can vary in length from 2 metres to 4 metres.
  • Offcuts – this is where we have cut a piece of timber to length and created a short offcut.
  • Sawdust – or more correctly, wood dust and shavings. This is the result Chipping 003of cutting, planing and sanding.

So, what do we do with these bi-products? Well it has been an interesting journey to find good home for them, and periodically the demand for them changes in the nature of the businesses that require it.

With the slabwood we have now found a market for wood chip for biomass fuel. We stockpile our slabwood until we have enough to hire in a chipper, the slabwood is then chipped into a measured size chip, suitable for an automatically fed biomass boiler. We then sell the chip to a chip supplier. This process is volume critical, and it is important that we ensure we have enough to make chipping economical.

Bi Products 003Offcuts are fairly simple, our local customer love this for their fires and woodburners. The only part we have a problem with is the very small offcuts, they still burn, but we are finding hard to convince our customers to take them!!

Dust Collection 004Sawdust has been one area that has gone around the houses a bit. Going back a decade or so it would go to the board manufacturers to make products like chipboard. That industry slowed down on demand and we supplied local farmers and the Polo industry. The farming side has slowed down so a new customer had to be found. So currently it is being supplied either to biomass fuel users, pellet manufacturers or board manufacturers.

So, all in all we feel very proud of our Green Credentials and our contribution in reducing demand on UK power generators and getting the very best value out of our timber resources, after all, it doesn’t grow on trees you know!! (tic)

12 Days of Christmas – Timber Style

www.wlwest.co.uk

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?

www.wlwest.co.uk

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

Record Power – Woodworking machines for enthusiasts

www.wlwest.co.uk

Anyone who enjoys working with wood knows that good machines make completing a project very much easier. If you are like me, we were taught woodworking at school 40 years ago and if we tried to hand cut a piece of timber square now we would have a 50/50 chance of accuracy. Similarly, hand planing a piece of hardwood? No I don’t think so.

So, if you would like to either update some of the woodworking machines that you currently have or would like to start to create your own woodworking workshop, then pop along and see us on:

Wednesday 24 October 2012.

Record Power, a name synonymous with woodworking, will be holding a demonstration day at our premises from 10.00am until 4.00pm. We have been working with Record Power for some years now, and they manufacture very good woodworking machines. From small band saws, planer thicknessers to woodturning lathes. We are convinced that if you have a question on what machine to buy, that they will be able to answer you. Good prices too. Record Power are always trying to be competitive in their market, and so you will find extremely good prices.

So, whether you are an experience craftsman, enthusiastic amateur furniture maker or apprentice woodworker – pop along to our shop on Wednesday 24 October 2012. You can find us between Midhurst and Petworth in West Sussex, just off the A272 opposite the Halfway Bridge Inn – follow the signs for Selham and Graffham.

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