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

Timber Industry and Education – A Team

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How do we get more young people into traditional industries? We have heard media coverage in the UK of our young people ‘not wanting to get their hands dirty’, and I do think that there is an element of our education system putting unrealistic aspirations into the minds of some of our students. It is not only impractical, but also costly to put them all through a university education. More than that, it is unnecessary. Our local colleges have an amazing amount to offer students, and we should encourage more colleges to offer more in the subject area of Woodworking. We have untapped talent in our students, some of them do not yet know it, and that is where industry and education MUST join in a partnership.

In 2000 I visited a senior tutor at Chichester College’s furniture department. I noticed several large signs from a competitor of ours, this company sponsored the woodwork department. It gave me the idea needed to start a long lasting relationship with the furniture department of Chichester College. Since 2000 we have been sponsoring the furniture department with materials. We regularly host visits at our Sawmills from Chichester college students, together with visits from other colleges and training establishments in the South, where we explain what is involved in taking a tree and converting it into a useable piece of timber, and all of the problems along the process. We explain what they should be looking for and considering when they buy timber. We feel that this relationship is an important part of the future of the Timber Industry as a whole. How else can we encourage potential stars to join one of the oldest industries in the world. It is important that our nations education system takes a different view on young people’s potential, they can’t all become .com millionaires, indeed a minuscule number of people worldwide ever achieve this level of financial success.

Along the timeline of our partnership with Chichester College, we started an additional sponsorship of a prize in the colleges annual prize giving for the construction department. So about 7 or 8 years ago the first W L West & Sons Ltd Best Furniture Newcomers prize was awarded. Over the years some of the students that have won this award have gone on to represent their college and country in the World Skills competition at a very high level. Now that truly is an accolade both for the students and the furniture department. Along the years they have had some extremely talented and dedicated tutors.

Just recently I again visited their end of year furniture show, they didn’t disappoint. Again the standard being produced in all of the years is amazing , not only in the quality of finish, but in the ideas. Where do they get the ideas from? Simply amazing. Every year the furniture department ‘raises the bar’ to use an Olympic term.  Recently the college finished In the top 10 of colleges nationally. This can only be as a result of top class tutors and visionary management.  Congratulations to Chichester College, long may it continue.

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

‘Its a piece of wood isnt’t it??’

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‘Its a piece of wood we can do anything with it’ !!

Can we? There is no doubt that timber is without doubt the most versatile raw material on this earth, but sadly many users really do not understand its properties and what you can and can’t do with it.

There are many questions that need to be asked: Is it being used externally?

Yew

Does it need to be structurally strong? Is it being used for painting? Does it need treatment? Does it need to be easy to work? These are but a few of the questions that need to be considered when you select a species for a project.

So, would you, for example, use Beech for external joinery or fencing – the answer is no, Beech is not a durable species and should not be used outside. Oak in contrast is durable and can be used externally very successfully, however, the sapwood on Oak, indeed all species is not durable and will be susceptible to decay and insect attack. In contrast, sapwood is perfectly acceptable to use inside. I know, I know, I know, some of the cabinet makers and joiners out there will say the contrast in colour is not acceptable!! Well, from a timber merchant’s point of view, sap on Oak is not a defect, so we count it in.

On another tack, would you use American Black Walnut if you wanted a painted finish – No of course you wouldn’t, far too precious a resource and expensive. You would choose a joinery grade softwood or inexpensive hardwood such as American Poplar. Generally softwoods are used for strength and hardwoods for aesthetics – albeit we do have graded structural hardwoods readily available.

We still get many requests for timber not suitable for the end use. There are still some unscrupulous traders that would just sell what they are asked for. This can result in a disaster for the customer. We try to get to know our customers, especially if it is the first time we have met them. We want to understand their requirement, to make sure we supply not only to their requirement but also to suit the end use. Talking to our customers is key – we call it ‘hand holding’.

So – Questions, Questions, Questions – we are here to help.

I guess what I am trying to say is that timber is not just ‘a piece of wood’. Each species has its own character, beauty and abilities for end uses. Our customers do not always understand what species can or can’t do, we do, so – please ask us, we would rather take that extra bit of time to ensure a satisfactory outcome rather than rush and have a complaint.

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

Timber Industry – leaders in recycling

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Bundles of Slabwood awaiting chipping

There cannot be many countries in the world that does not have recycling on its agenda. Clearly, in the UK it is high on our Government’s list. In the timber industry is it really a new thing to do? Or were we really the leaders in recycling?

As a reasonably large Sawmiller and Timber Merchant producing both

Offcuts for Firewood

sawn and machined timber, we produce resonably large quantities of waste, or how we term them –  ‘bi-products’. This means that we have always had to be ‘on the ball’ when it comes to dealing with where we are going to send the bi-product. It just is not logistacally possible to let the waste continue to build up. Nowadays it is not financially, morally or physically possible to send this bi-product to waste tips.

From our point of view we have three areas of bi-product.

  1. Slabwood – that can be the part round side of a log or a strip of timber from a cut to size job.
  2. What we refer to as Firewood – smaller pieces that have arrived from jobs being cut to length.
  3. Wood dust – the result of cutting, planing and sanding timber.

Lets have a look at these three areas.

Slabwood, this product is now sold for woodchip for the fuel industry. Getting chipped into controlled sizes for Heating and (CHP) Combined Heat and Power systems. But what used to happen to it? Well we used to supply it into the chipboard and fibreboard manufacturers also to the paper manufacturers. Some was sold for firewood.

Firewood – small offcuts. Nearly always this was used for ……. yes you guessed it ….. firewood, and still is.

Wood Dust being collected for pellet production

Wood dust – We now send the bullk of this bi-product to be made into pellets for ….. wood fuel. A small amount still is used for animals. Originally the bulk would have been used for animals. About 4 or 5 decades ago there was a time when it was dumped and it had little if no value. Now, we are able to sell it. This one part of our bi-product is the one that we have not always been able to recycle, thankfully now we can.

Pellets

So, I think that we probably beat the glass recyclers (one of the first to recycle – with the exception of the times of returned beer, lemonade and milk bottles for deposits!!), certainly we have beaten the plastic recyclers and many of the more recent recycling projects.

So, throwing down the challenge, I think the timber industry was probably one of the leaders in recycling, we just didn’t know it. So a leading green industry? I think we must be near the front aren’t we?

Post a reply if you have other industries that have been recycling for decades. Or if you have alternative uses for my bi-products.

For enquiries on our products look at our website listed at the start of the post or:

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

Hardwoods into Art

www.wlwest.co.uk

Red Mallee Vase

Timber has to be the most versatile material known to man. The scope of uses is mind blowing, we use it in construction with a lower cost softwood, that is never seen after roofs and plaster are applied to Oak beams that we show off.

We use it for the garden and security as fences and barriers. We use it on our rivers and in sea defence work. We still use a small amount as dunnage

Red Mallee and Ash

(packing for shipping). We burn it for heat and power. We can drive on it in some bridges and temporary roads. We carve it into amazing statues and figureheads.

Red Mallee and Ash

And not finally, because I have only grazed the surface of uses for timber, but in addition we create art with it.

One of our customers creates the most beautiful turnery, this surely can be described as Art? He uses various timbers, the examples here are from Australian and European timbers. Kevin Hutson is a professional wood turner who started out as a hobbyist. After passing his C & G exams in Carpentry & Joinery at Brighton

Technical College, Kevin ended up as a freelance draughtsman specialising in architecturally designed joinery manufacture. This was the catalyst for Kevin’s artistic and creative side to shine. He is self taught in the design area, but as you can see from his work, successfully so. Have a look at his web site at www.khturner.com, he welcomes commisions, and as you will see, Kevin’s pieces are just a little bit different. In the pictures you will see that he has put together species from different continents is a stunning way.

If you have an interest in timbers that are just a little different, pop into our shop. Stocks are always moving, so its worth popping in and seeing waht we have.

Call our Shop team on 01798 861611 or email:shop@wlwest.co.uk

From Acorns to Oak trees …. to Oak Framed Buildings

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I don’t think any of us have driven through Englands pleasant land without seeing, in some way, shape or form an Oak Framed building. They are traditional as Roast Beef or Fish & Chips (although from Jamie Oliver’s recent series, neither were British inventions!!).

There can be nothing more beautiful and inspiring than seeing the construction of an Oak framed building taking shape. We have been working with Oak builders for decades, we would like to think back to Nelsons day, but that’s a blog for another day.

Our series of Oak Framed buildings are manufactured out of quaility European Oak. They are exclusively made from PEFC Oak. These buildings are cut from Green Oak and as such will be manufactured to order. All joints, mortices and dowel holes are precut and drilled, dowels are supplied. The building arrives in kit form with plans and all joints marked.

The uses are only limited by your imagination, Garages, Studio’s, Jacuzzi Shelters, Barbeque Houses, Workshops the list is endless.

The buildings are supply only but we are working with another of our suppliers to offer a building service and assistance in obtaining planning permission where applicable.

We are able to supply the external cladding to suit your requirement, together with Cedar shingles for the roof. Oak garage doors will set the buildings off to a tee, and we can make these in our workshops, all hand made to fit your requirements.

So, have you gots some space in the garden or padock that would be an ideal location for one of these buildings. May be a swimming pool house, a new workshop a home for that collection of vintage motor cars! Just about anything is possible.

We have the full range of buildings listed on our main website with exploded drawings, click here or any of the pictures to take you there.

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