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!!
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