News From the Timberzoo

      AUGUST 2010

  • Recycled Western Hemlock Flooring
  • A New Page On The Website: Specials
  • Recent Stock Arrivals

recycled western hemlock flooring

150 x 22mm     Rate: $93.00/m2

In the rain-sodden west coast foothills of British Colombia and Washington State, tall slow-growing cool-climate conifers dominate. Douglas Fir stands are interspersed with more shade-tolerant Hemlocks and California Redwoods - all characterized by low spooning branches that anticipate the weight of a winter's snowfall and droop in a way that resists its capture and avoids broken boughs.

Timber sourced in this almost sub-Arctic to cool and wet temperate region varies markedly from Douglas Fir and Hemlock grown elsewhere in plantation or temperate forest. Close-grained nor'western timber has greater strength and visual appeal - strong latewood to earlywood banding being an indicator of extreme seasons. 

The coastal trade in Douglas Fir in the days of clipper ships was busy and far-reaching. Under sail, deck-loaded cargoes of west coast softwood reached Mexico, Peru, Chile, Hawaii, Japan and Australia. A trade that persists here to this day.

How it was that Western Hemlock arrived with Douglas Fir as a mixed softwood export, I am unable to explain. As a norm, in any structural batch salvaged from demolished buildings, Hemlock appears as occasional boards, never more than 10% of any batch - and revealed only when the timber is dressed by planer. 

Pale Hemlock boards - not unlike Baltic Pine

Yet this latest batch from purlins salvaged from the Geelong waterfront are in proportion 50:50 Hemlock and Douglas Fir. Accordingly, we can offer both Douglas Fir 150 x 22mm (rate: $83.00/m2) as well as Western Hemlock 150 x 22mm (rate: $93.00/m2) milled from 70mm beams and re-profiled to floorboards. 

 Pale Hemlock boards - not unlike Baltic Pine

 Peach tones of fine-grained Douglas Fir floorboards

Hemlock is the paler, blonder timber. Tonally a close-grained silvery straw with a dash of Angostura bitters. A Nordic look that appears deficient in vitamin E and is a reminder of the cold, dripping, dark forest floors of the Pacific Nor'west where the sun does not often penetrate.

Peach tones of fine-grained Douglas Fir floorboards


a new page on the website: specials

Bibs and Bobs, One-Offs and Remnant batches are sort of like grown kids. They really should leave home soon, but the city is a hard place...and besides, you don't really want them to. However - that's family. With timber you have to be a bit ruthless with the housekeeping. Otherwise you are just a collector. We will feature some of the small packs and leftover quantities on this Newsletter and install current items as a new page on the website (

Recycled Ironbark - Southern Mahogany
100 x 12mm (17m2)
Rate: $65.00/m2

Recycled Jarrah
70 x 16mm (11m2)
Rate: $58.00/m2


Recycled Tallowwood
60 x 19mm (16m2)
Rate: $79.00/m2

Recycled Sydney Blue Gum
120 x 12mm (22m2)
Rate: $69.00/m2



These are all first quality batches - not defective.

Any seconds posted on the SPECIALS page
  will be clearly described.



Recycled Baltic Pine
80 x 15mm (14m2)
Rate: $49.00/m2


recent stock arrivals

fiddleback in red gum and 'squiggly' messmate

KD Forest Red Gum     190 x 45mm     Rate: $60.00/m


An old timber bloke named Gus has been sitting on this batch for quite some time before selling it to me. He didn't know that I have a special thing for E. Tereticornis, but he would have guessed I'd be drooling over the fiddleback. It's pretty full on. Not just the odd corrugation. 

Most of you are familiar with the term ‘fiddleback’. It is a grain characteristic of hardwoods - a particular curly figure which at its best is a wide regular ripple at 60 to 90 degrees to direction of grain, and often called flame, cross grain or tiger stripe. Its appeal is the light refracting ability - or chatoyance - in what appears as a three dimensional aspect to a single plane or wood surface. 

There is a very rich in-trade tradition of explanations for how fiddleback occurs in trees. Many attempts add to the general mythology of timber - being oral versions told usually over a few drinks. Then retold - but with a somewhat altered text. I won't add to the oral history in print. Besides, we can all Google.


KD Spotted Gum     190 x 45mm     Rate: $45.00/m

Furniture timber in 3.0m + lengths with deep russet tones of northern Spotted Gum



Recycled Messmate     170 x 22mm DAR Boards     Rate: $22.00/m

For those who love the surface checks on old planed boards -  where the surface is cleaned but the dark furrows and fine penetrations
remain as an etched tableau -  you are going to love this batch! This kind of surface is always a welcome outcome of remilling timber - but it
isn't something you can always plan. Not all timber has a weathered or checked surface. Not all surface checking survives even careful planing.
I'm saying this for the benefit of the shopfitter who rang me to order 200m2 of Squiggly Messmate last month - with the rider that he
needed it by Friday. I guess that's the building industry all over. It might be uncommon - but we want it now.