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

Sustainability – Do we understand it?

DSC03305v2Sustainable?

One of the Oxford English dictionary definitions of  ‘Sustainable’ is ‘Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level’. But what does that mean in the timber industry?

Timber is a sustainable product, we all know that. It can grow again given robust forestry practises. However, lets take the European Oak – Quercus Robur, a staple in the construction and furniture industry in North Western Europe. It is sustainable, but not necessarily in larger sizes and lengths. The Oak, as we all know has a very long life cycle, saplings planted in 2016 probably will not be ready for harvest of a good size until 2116!!! So sustainable yes, but over a long period. Wide diameter and long logs may not be available indefinitely.

TT Oak March 2011 003Why, you ask am I rabbiting on about this? Well, in my view when we talk about ‘Sustainable’ those of us in the timber industry – from Forester to Carpenter and every process in-between, should all be making the absolute most of the timber that we are using.

I see the word ‘Sustainable or Sustainable supply’ on nearly all timber related websites, whether supplier or customer. Do we use the word without thinking about what it means? Why do we see timber returned for the smallest of knots or character? Where have the skills in carpentry, joinery and cabinet making gone? Our forbear craftsmen, many of which are in their 90’s or not now with us, would have been able to look at the piece of timber, turn it around in their hands a few times and then know exactly how to use that piece of timber on their project with whatever knot or character it contained. We have some fantastic modern wood fillers now, some you mix with the species wood dust that is almost undetectable in knot holes once sanded, a great solution to ensure we can use all of the timber.

We take a customer order, then select from either a square edged board or waney edged board to cut and machine the order. We select in good faith knowing through experience that trees have branches. We buy as good a timber grade as the market can supply. We ensure that we get the very best recovery rates possible to minimise wastage at every stage. But having cut the job in good faith, we then have timber returned that, in our opinion could be used given higher skills in the industry, because it has a knot or a small split, what are we meant to doIMG_6036 with it once it is cut?  Our plan to minimise wastage has gone out of the window – together with the profit margin!! So, not very ‘Sustainable’!!!!!

We must, must, must as an industry take a more responsible look at how we use each and every piece of wood we cut. We need to educate our customers that trees have branches and all sorts of other beautiful characters in it. We must encourage them to accept that clear timber is not the be all and end all, that timber is natural and that every piece is unique.

Then we may be able to truly claim our industry meets ‘Sustainable’ practises!!

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

Rapold – Soul of Wood™

www.wlwest.co.uk

Surface Design ShowWith the Surface Design Show almost upon us we are now prepared for next weeks show.

We will be showing – for the first time in the UK – Soul of Wood™ from RAPOLD Oak_7918With WMGmbH. We have been appointed as their UK distributors.

Zirbe_Swiss stone pine _7880With WMRAPOLD GmbH has introduced a product to the market that will revolutionize interior design. Soul of Wood™  timber design elements, carefully manufactured to preserve the soul of this natural product, are used by architects, boat builders and interior designers to create a previously unknown touch of exclusiveness in all areas of living space. Each piece is unique, no wall or piece of furniture resembles another.

This product is a truly natural product and produces a unique Soul of Wood TM RAPOLD Germany_5510_Soul of Wood TM im My-Sound-StudioWith WMfeature in any living or work space. Soul of Wood™ is currently available in Oak, Black Walnut and White Fir. It is hand cleft on the face, and planed on the rear and side four faces which allows it to be fixed to walls with out gaps.

Pop in to see us on Stand 154 at the Surface Design Show.

Download our Soul of Wood™ product info sheet on our product page.

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

Modern Meets Traditional

www.wlwest.co.uk

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

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)