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

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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

Training in the Timber Industry

wlw logo v6 1865-2015www.wlwest.co.uk

For some time now in this country there has been a lot of criticism of education that there has not been enough practical training for students. Computers and ‘clean hands’ options for students seem to have become the norm, with traditional ‘hands on’ trades falling behind.

I still think that there is a way to go, to ensure that we identify those students who are suited to ‘get their hands dirty’ in a practical way – Carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, painter …….. the list goes on, rather than pointing them in an academic direction that they may fail in.

IMG_1743But it is changing, there are colleges who have thriving and growing construction skills departments, Chichester College is one of them.

We have had the pleasure in sponsoring the Furniture section of Chichester College for over 15 years. One element of our sponsorship is the end of year awards, of which we sponsor the years Best Furniture Ne wcomer. In 2016 we will also be sponsoring the Carpentry & Joinery Outstanding Achievement Award.

Why is all of this important? Well, from our company’s point of view it is two fold. We are seeing the beginning of the careers of possible future employees, and also the start of future customers.

It is therefore brilliant to hear that Chichester College furniture student Edward Harringman has just won Gold medal in the World Skills competition in Brazil. This is a tremendous accolade at the very start of Edward’s career. We would like to congratulate him on this award.

This is not a ‘one off ‘, Chichester College has entered students into the World Skills competitions for some years now, with previous students also winning Gold and lowIMG_1744er medals. This is a real reflection on the talents, skills and passion of the tutors at the college. Christian Notley, who heads up the Furniture team at the college, also has the role of World Skills UK Training Manager. At the end of each academic year, I get invited to the end of year exhibition for the furniture students, and every year I am amazed both at the quality of the work and the ideas for innovative furniture. Where the inspiration for the ideas comes from I don’t IMG_1754know, but I’m glad it does. The students work is awesome, and I’m glad that we are seeing male and female, young and mature students training together to give a vibrant future to our industry.

Well done Chichester College, its Principal – Shelagh Legrave and all of the tutors. You are leading the way in Construction training  .

 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!

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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

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

Chloe’s New Legs

www.wlwest.co.uk

There is a Young Lady called Chloe who lives in Chichester, West Sussex. She suffers from Cerebral Palsy which prevents her from walking – but at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol there are some fantastic surgeons who can give Chloe a life changing operation and allow her to walk ….. and Dance for the first time. This will take a large amount of money and Spirit FM who are based in Chichester are championing her cause.

There are many events being planned in the area, one of which is being organised by our own in house Gate Maker – Simon (Sykes) Lintott.

 On Good Friday 29th March 2013 from 6pm onwards there will be a Fish & Chip supper served from 6-9pm.

Live music with ‘The Wide Eyes’ from 9pm.

All held at The Half Moon Inn, Petersfield Road, Midhurst.

Please support this very worthwhile event. The poster below gives more details.

www.chloesnewlegs.org.uk

Event-poster

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

SALE SALE SALE

www.wlwest.co.uk

SALE .. SALE .. SALE

Yes its not just the high street shops that are having a SALE, our Retail shop is too.

DSC00359

During the whole of February we are offering 10% off of all shop stock timber. Unfortunately this has to exclude Australian and exotic timbers. Pop in and have a look – build that cupboard, repair that chair, install those shelves. Whatever project you have on the go, its got to be worth a look.

While we are on the subject of Exotic timbers, we have new stocks of exotics especially Exotics 009v2sized for the hobbist/woodturner/box maker. Have a look at our website for an idea of some of the Exotics on stock: CLICK HERE

Have a browse on our website where you will find details on all of the above – and much more at: www.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