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

Gates of Distinction

Gates have been manufactured by our company for literally over a century. DSC01024Our gates are handmade to order and we put pride and passion into them. On many occasions we are able to copy existing gates, sometimes our customers brings that old gates in for us to measure and copy.

But recently we had the opportunity to make three quite unique gates for the Goodwood Estate.

They asked us if we could replicate some gates that once hung on the estate. We had a photograph that S28C-6e16011418160probably dated back to the 1920/30s and an architects drawing as an interpretation of the picture.

The estate wanted the gates to hang on the entrance of one of their exclusive hospitality lodges.

We took their photograph and plans and constructed three gates from Oak, a matching pair of vehicle gates that have been automated, and a pedestrian gates that sits beside the pair as an entrance to the woodland. As you can see, the construction involved quite a lot of curved work with solid steel bars through the IMG_3363centre of the timber. We used powder coated steel to improve the life of the steel. The gates were made strong enough to be able to cope with the automation. To set off the gates we turned Oak Acorns to sit on the handing posts.

We are very pleased with the result, and we know that the Goodwood Estate are happy as well.

IMG_3362

If you have gates that you would like re-made or if you have seen some gates that have struck a chord with you, then call us, we can discuss what you would like constructed. We can also hang them for you if you would like us to.

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

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

South Downs National Park – Where are we?

www.wlwest.co.uk

SD National Park signage Feb2014You’re not sure which part of the South Downs National Park that you are in? Follow our signs. We have the pleasure in working with the National Park Authority to provide signage across the national park.

Carefully crafted in our own workshops, as you can see from the photo, we can include logo’s. These signs are manufactured in Oak and will go a beautiful grey colour over time.

Keep your eye out for our signs, there will be more appearing soon. Cheriton School 011

If there is a sign that you would like us to create, give our sales team a call. From house signs & company signs to footpath signs. You might also think about us engraving the top rail of your gate when we make it for you. A good theft deterrent – gates have been stolen.

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

Rapold – Hand Cleft Shingles

www.wlwest.co.ukSurface Design Show

IMG_7504WMWe have been busy during January preparing for the Surface Design Show held at the Business Design Centre in Islington on 4 – 6 February 2014.

This is a new venture for us and launches our relationship with Rapold GmbH for the UK distributorship of Hand Cleft roof IMG_8057WMand Wall Cladding Shingles. Rapold GmbH are a family business with a heritage in timber that goes back over 80 years.        Harald Rapold approached us 2 years ago as he felt that the synergy IMG_5488 WMbetween our two companies would make a strong base for the UK. Indeed, between us we have nearly 230 years experience in the timber industry.

Rapold pride themselves on a hand made product, using traditional skills. They ensure that the logs are carefully selected for their straight grain and size. Their team them hand cleave them into the required sizes.

Shingles are available in Oak, Larch , Robinia and White Fir. This is a truly renewable method of roofing using a IMG_7339WMnatural materials that has been used for thousands of years. Traditionally used on churches, they have had a renaissance and are being used as part of modern construction, not just on roofs but wall cladding externally and internally.

Click here for our Shingle Catalogue 

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

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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