In The Rough


  • The Playroom of Big Ideas
  • Bridge Timbers Re-Sawn As Posts
  • Remilled Douglas Fir Lining Boards
  • Sawtooth Lining Board
  • Recycled Screening
  • Station Pier Jarrah

the playroom of big ideas

Your new millennium Ecology Warrior loves the Sea Shepherd model of activism. Running very close to the edge of the law without breaking it - and making their targets look a tad foolish when insisting a position of righteousness. The latest Forest Vandal to be outed is retail Everyman, Gerry Harvey. The environmental splinter group Markets for Change (MfC) targeted Harvey on their webpage in a bid for page one glory. They got radio, television and newspaper coverage for a slow Monday, but nothing on Tuesday. 

If the Universe of Forest Ideas was IKEA, the media would only be interested in the supervised children's playroom and the pool of blue plastic balls. There - and not upon the high seas - is where MfC developed their Harvey Norman strategy, and where the short fuse of this issue spluttered for a day and finally fizzled out. Like the public at large, Harvey didn't really understand the issue, but his coached responses showed he knew where the life rafts were. According to MfC web reports, redemption for Harvey is possible in Eco-World too, were he to change his 'procurement policies'. There are alternatives to native forest hardwoods sourced from wanton and unchecked deforestation, it seems. 

If we are to leave this playroom of childish notions, then there needs to be real options. MfC have a responsibility not to bullshit Gerry Harvey if they wish him to act morally, legally and responsibly. They can't tell lies and they can't play favourites. It's not for Harvey's sake. He's a billionaire and can afford to play a high stakes game. But there are many people who work for Harvey Norman, and their labours and their livings count for something.

MfC claim that valid alternative timber sources for Harvey Norman furniture are either FSC-accredited timber or plantation hardwoods. Apparently there are 358,000 cubic metres of plantation hardwood produced in the current year, and enough to replace the need for native forest product in all categories. Funny - I'm constantly in the market for furniture grade plantation eucalypt and I can't find any. But I do have images of some feather-light ash from 45 year old log which may demonstrate how inadequate this resource is for furniture. 

Harvey has access to AFS-certified timber from responsibly-managed native forests, which is suitable for his furniture if he bothers to verify a chain of custody. Speaking of chains and links, MfC are a splinter of the Wilderness Society, which is a member of the Environment Chamber of FSC, which in turn has certified several native forests. MfC claim that FSC accreditation is superior to AFS standards. It might be. But it doesn't matter. That is called playing accreditation body favourites.

Dressed 120mm x 45mm boards of recycled Mountain Ash. The end-grain shown with widely-spaced earlywood / latewood banding is typical of young eucalypt which was occasionally milled for construction in past decades of the 20th century - especially at times of timber shortages during and after world wars. Sawmillers despair of cutting this log as it releases unpredictable stresses during a cut, with resultant excessive bow and spring from straight. It dries poorly in stick and unreliably in the kiln. Drying check or fracture in the face, large knot hinge at the point of board spring and broad sapwood banding render young regrowth or short-rotation plantation eucalypt unsuitable for most sawlog applications. Especially furniture making. Plantations grown with a sawlog intent are often underwritten for a pulplog destiny as a fallback position for investors, once the project reaches non-viability.
This usually occurs at the 10 to 12 year mark in stand development.

In the case of the plantation claim - they are peddling a lie. Fudging the fine print doesn't cut it. If you mean imported softwood, then say it. Harvey doesn't have the opportunity to use plantation eucalypt and it's wrong to pretend anyone else has this option. 

One day an Australian journalist is going to do a couple of hour's research - just like he did at uni - and these headline-seeking strategies, based on a popularised and repetitive myth, aren't going to work. Except at the Herald-Sun, of course.


bridge timbers re-sawn as posts

350mm x 350mm; 300mm x 300mm; 250mm x 250mm; 200mm x 200mm

Site miller Jeff Searle has been busy at Timberzoo squaring many of the old Gippsland bridge stringers salvaged in-the-round. It is a process fraught with risk. You need to be sure that all 200mm metal spikes and 25mm bolts have been removed intact. The 450mm saw blade is heavy-duty and tungsten tipped - but no match for old metal fixings. Some of the logs sawn had perished sapwood on the circumference, which is removed in the process of flitching the round - exposing a clean durable heartwood. There is some natural heartwood edge on the 350mm squares, and many are perforated with holes from spike or bolt that leach a black carbon stain. All part of the recycled effect.

This bustle and industry in the Timberzoo back yard means that squared posts are available in a range of lengths to 5.5 metres. Ideal for pergolas, porticos, arbours, doorways and outdoor bench seating. $200 to $240 per metre, and the 'roughies' somewhat less.






Bridge Bearers

220mm x 180mm; 300mm x 150mm   Rate: $100.00/m

Posts in original salvaged dimensions are more likely to be rectangular in end section. 

Old Gippsland bridge bearers perform well as pergola uprights and beams. More have arrived in recent weeks as creek crossings are upgraded
after summer floods and replaced by concrete girder bridges, and repairs to the Wilsons Promontory access road are completed.

These are a cheaper option at $100 per metre, and can be supplied in all lengths up to 5.5 metres.



remilled douglas fir lining boards

Recycled Douglas Fir

125mm x 15mm   Rate: $55.00/m2

Re-sawn from recycled Oregon beams, these lining boards are dense, fine-grained timbers with nary a blemish.

With tight knot and occasional metal marks, they resemble old Redwood in grain and texture.
Imagine them as soffit board above exposed dressed beams. It is such a recognisable and compelling template from the
timber building tradition, that I can't wait to build a display module that clients can draw inspiration from.

But get in early for your project while these 4.0 metre lengths of lining board are available.



sawtooth lining board

Recycled Hardwood

80mm x 13mm   Rate: $44.00/m2

The first runs of a rustic skip-dressed face lining board that retains some essential characteristics of a sawn board are being processed at the Timberzoo as we go to press. Sawtooth Lining is an aged brown recycled hardwood board with a regular thickness where the cutter blades do but brush the top face, revealing the stutter and arcs of old saw abrasion and an irregular bruise of planed timber without the clean surface of our regular millings. It is a board that is winsome in hue and possesses a rhythmic age-worn texture.

Shopfitters have been impatient for this run and need no encouragement to specify - but this look has a place in residential building,
so call in to see for yourself - or contact Simon in the office for samples.




recycled screening

Recycled Messmate

75mm x 28mm   Rate: $4.80/m

Recycled Messmate with pencil-round edges will give service indoors and outdoors as screening. This dimension has a greater longevity than 19mm decking boards, but is not too heavy to be screw-fixed to uprights as either a flat-blade Venetian screen or vertical privacy screen. Used outdoors, these timbers should be oiled to protect against weathering.


station pier jarrah

Recycled Jarrah

270mm x 40mm   DAR   Rate: $65.00/m


More jarrah beams from Station Pier salvage have been deep-ripped and dressed-all-round for furniture board.

Often resawing 100mm beams will expose a higher moisture content in the centre cut,
so we have taken the precaution of kiln-drying these recycled timbers to avoid design failures in laminated table or benchtops.

There is a real rustic flavour to these 2400mm to 2700mm long planks. They will suit the recycled purists.

Rack stocks of 270mm x 40mm Jarrah boards


250mm x 25mm board sawn from Station Pier boards