Guide to Why Slow Growing Trees Makes Better Timber
All across the Thorogood website, you’ll see us talking about slow grown timber, banging on about it and touting it as the best thing to happen in the timber industry since some caveman thought that trees might be good for more than just climbing to escape sabre tooth tigers. We love timber here, so hopefully, you can forgive us some of our enthusiasm. But what we might have got you wondering is “what exactly is slow grown timber, where does it come from and why is it so great?” Well, for the answers to these questions and more look no further than this handy guide.
What is slow grown timber?
As the name suggests, slow grown timber is wood from trees that have grown more slowly than other examples of the same species. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is mostly to do with climate because the growing conditions throughout the tree’s life have a radical effect on the quality of the timber it produces.
You know how a tree grows outwards from the centre in rings? Well, in slow grown timber, these annular growth rings are more tightly concentrated – so if you cut down two trees the same size and took a cross-section of each, then you could count the rings to see which was older.
During the summer months, the tree can grow in an exuberant fashion, after all, there is lots of water, sunshine and food around, but as it gets colder the tree can’t support this rapid growth and lays down denser, dark coloured timber. It is this light and dark, early and late growth that we can see in the cross section of a trunk and which allows us to calculate the age of a tree.
Where do the best slow grown trees come from?
Well, that depends. It is a question that is both very complicated to answer and very simple. If you think of any organism, whether it is a plant or an animal or one of those weird ones with complicated scientific-sounding names – they are all adapted to specific habitats.
If you wanted to breed trout, for example, you would be unlikely to pick a location in the desert to build your farm; likewise, you don’t see many camels in Scottish lochs. It’s the same with trees – the best Siberian larch comes from right beneath the arctic circle: it is dense, strong and extraordinarily durable.
It is bloody cold there, and the trees grow exceptionally slowly with a short summer season and a desolate winter. On the other hand, whilst the best Douglas fir undoubtedly comes from Canada (also bloody cold) the absolute cream of the crop comes from the fairly temperate region around Vancouver on the western coast, where temperatures rarely dip below zero – stock from more mountainous regions, where it is very cold indeed, tends not to be so great.
It’s definitely complicated, and with no hard-and-fast rules, the best course of action is to look for material that grows naturally in those locations and consult the experts.
Style and substance
Slow grown timber has a number of qualities that make it more suited to all kinds of uses both internally and externally, but chief among these is its increased density.
As slow grown timber has a greater proportion of the hardier late growth than faster-grown timber, it can be a hell of a lot more substantial – our slow grown Scandinavian redwood, for example, is between 7-10% denser than standard unsorted. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but consider that denser timbers are usually a lot more durable and you are starting to see the reason for searching the slowly grown stuff out – if you are slaving away to make a window or door then the last thing you want is for it to rot in 5 minutes!
Using the good stuff can make your life a lot easier as well, as slowly grown material has much less inclination to twist, warp or bend than fast grown stuff.
So how do you get your hands on this wondrous material? Well, the next time that you are after some timber for a project, large or small, why not give us a ring or pop in and see the difference for yourself; our knowledgeable staff will be on hand to guide you to the right choice.
Guides | 5 years AGO