News From the Timberzoo

      APRIL 2010

  • New Showroom Open For Business
  • A Local Craftsman With A Timber Dream
  • Recent Stock Arrivals

new showroom open for business

A small but appreciative crowd came and went on a balmy early Saturday evening to view the new timber displays at our Moolap showroom. Many lingered to enjoy a champagne as the sun fell over Cheetham Saltworks and the 12-volt garden lights came on to highlight the sentinel tallowwood bridge timbers which guard the outside deck. To all of us who worked towards a completion date, it felt like a milestone moment. But not the finish of a journey so much as the beginning of a new one. Many of you who couldn't make it on the night are warmly invited to call and view - even if you don't have a shopping list on the day. Murray, Simon and the sales staff will welcome you. We're easy to find now - close to the front entry. If you are driving Portarlington Road of an evening, you will probably see the backlit posts reminding you to visit.  



a local craftsman with a timber dream

Anyone who has tried to make a living out of recycled timber will tell you it is a great thing to do in life, but it is hard work and difficult to structure as a stand-alone business. Many people I meet in the timber life are undaunted by the task, by the bruising experience, nor by the many setbacks on the journey to viability.

Chas Campion used to be a fencer, like his father before him. It nagged at him that the paling fences he was contracted to remove, were a wasted resource - even if they avoided landfill. Mulching to wood waste seemed such a low-value use for what he saw as a resource. It was only natural that this resource led to Chas' first product - a woodblock parquetry panel of 10mm milled recycled paling on ply backing.

After some years of joint ventures in which he was initially encouraged and loudly applauded - then swallowed by the great silence of economic rationalism, Campion decided to broaden his base and think locally. His repertoire includes recycled timber, reworked metal, old nuts, bolts, spikes and sleeper plates - buffed, burnished, stained and blackened. Sleepers, beams and bridge bits are his clay. The urban past is his milieu. Campion burbles with ideas. The old ones - shabbily ignored in previous pitches - push the new ones aside in their effort to be heard. He speaks best with his hands. His work can be said to possess the same fluency of design that emerged more slowly in the decades of building our past.


The back catalogue of Chas Campion's work includes pubs, shops and private residences. Furniture - outdoor tables, indoor tables, desks, sideboards and recycled parquetry floors. His energy arrived at Timberzoo in the form of inspired craft. Was there ever a more natural commission? Given responsibility for the new showroom and office fit-out, Campion was able to balance the fine-sanded and buffed finish of timber panels with the abstraction of the rough-sawn flitch from whence it came. A stacked log desk with its earthy textures is both a counterpoise to - and has a connection with - polished and planed surfaces. Metal and found objects occasionally intervene, but raw timber is at the basis of his craft.

On one subject, Chas Campion and I agree. The current obsession with hardwoods has led to a valuable resource being overlooked. While the market now absorbs most of the recycled native hardwood stock - especially the durable hardwoods, there is a glut of available Douglas Fir  - Oregon timbers - in the salvage inventories. Unsubscribed by clients or specifiers, this will lead to the resource being splintered on site rather than salvaged.

The perception that Douglas Fir is non-durable outdoors needs to be qualified. Although Class 4 on durability tables, Fir is used extensively in North America for outdoor furniture and joinery. Failure of Douglas Fir in coastal pergolas is largely a design fault. Outdoor structures in the 80s were budget projects. Cheap young timbers were often used with treated pine. Beam edges were uncapped, untreated and not chamfered or roll-finished on the top. End-grain on posts was uncapped and left exposed to weather. Yet an Oregon pergola can be designed to last 25 years if galv-capped and oiled with Cutek. For exterior joints, Oregon is a preferred timber as it doesn't swell on end-grain tenons and shrink like more durable hardwoods. See Chas Campion's Douglas Fir outdoor table at Timberzoo with its black weatherseal finish - it will still be giving service in 25 years.


 Outdoor table and bench setting by Chas Campion in recycled Douglas Fir.
This is designed for outdoor living and longevity is assured with black weatherseal finish.


Charles Campion can be contacted for furniture and installations
0403 294 557
Williams & Campion 


recent stock arrivals

Jarrah   300 x 100mm; 300 x 75mm - Decking Boards From Station Pier

The on-going refurbishment and underpinning of Station Pier, Port Melbourne begins another phase. The main wharf bearers are good enough after 57 years that they will be left and only the decking boards removed. Incredibly, these function as lower formwork for a poured slab (200mm). A reminder of the strength and tenacity of timber. To support its own weight, that of concrete, and the trucks, equipment and vehicles that drive across it on a daily basis.


 Massive Jarrah decking boards are lifted from wharf bearers at Station Pier by bobcat with lifting grapple.


But I'm only briefly interested in timber as structure. I love timber for its visible, tactile qualities. This will re-dress to wonderful furniture timber. Stay tuned! 


 Dumps and spikes removed, Jarrah wharf timbers are stored at the Timberzoo.