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.
Why You Should Choose Waney Edge Siberian Larch Over Tropical Wood
When it comes to choosing timber for your next project, it can be tempting to opt for lower cost materials to save money. However, depending on what you choose, inexpensive materials can often be a false economy when poor quality wood goes from ‘cheap and cheerful’ to ‘split and twisted’.
If you’re looking for a lower cost alternative to expensive hardwoods, instead of choosing cheaper commodity tropical hardwoods, why not consider Waney Edge Siberian Larch instead?
Softwood with Exceptional Stability
While it may seem as though hardwood should be more stable than softwood, Waney Edge Siberian Larch is actually far more stable in performance than cheaper tropical alternatives due to its extremely slow growth. The rate at which a tree grows is dependent on factors such as climate, temperature, and availability of light and nutrients; trees grown in tropical climates have an abundance of these things and therefore tend to grow relatively quickly.
In contrast, our Siberian Larch is found naturally in darker and colder environments that help it to grow much more slowly. This slow growth leads to denser timber that is far more dimensionally stable over time.
Not only that, but Waney Edge Siberian Larch is only ever cut down in winter, when the timber retains less water and is therefore less likely to shrink during drying. Our air and kiln-drying process is also designed to avoid case-hardening or twisting, making it just as stable and long-lasting as hardwood.
This natural density and stability also means that Siberian Larch is much more durable, hard-wearing and water-resistant than tropical hardwoods. The timber itself contains a high resin content that makes it extremely resistant to many different varieties of disease and rot.
Rather than coming from huge, man-made plantations like a lot of commodity-based tropical hardwoods, our Waney Edge Siberian Larch is sourced from naturally-occurring forests in southeast Sweden, making it a far more sustainable and environmentally-friendly option.
More Options for Greater Flexibility
All of our Siberian Larch is boule-cut, which not only provides more stable cuts of wood, but also gives our customers a huge amount of variety when it comes to dimension – providing long lengths of timber as well as wide planks that are suitable for creating curved wood pieces.
We’ll be honest, it’s a little more expensive, but in our opinion (as well as our customers that have already chosen it), it’s most definitely worth it! While Waney Edge Siberian Larch may cost a bit more than tropical hardwood alternatives, it often offers far more value for money as its high quality, strength, stability and durability means it will last far longer than cheaper cuts of timber and won’t let you down over time.
Like to Know More?
If you’d like to know more about our Waney Edge Siberian Larch and why it could be the perfect material for your next project, speak to one of our timber experts today on 01206 233 100 or drop us a line via our contact form.
Your Guide to Sustainable American Hardwood
With more than 300m hectares of natural and robust forest land spread across its 50 states, North America is almost uniquely placed to provide high quality, sustainable timber. From pale, golden ash to rich, red cherry, the United States’ varied and vibrant biodiversity yields a whole range of timbers that differ in both look and properties – giving you endless choice when it comes to sourcing.
Whether you’re looking for exterior timber, materials for woodworking, or durable wood for interiors and joinery, there’s an American hardwood for every need. Take a look at our guide below to find out everything you need to know…
Naturally occurring forests can be found all across the United States but the majority of hardwood forests range from the northeast to the southeast coast and in the northwest. These swathes of forest support a huge range of biodiversity and wildlife due to hardwood’s ability to naturally regenerate without requiring human interference.
Sourcing, Sustainability & Certification
North America is a significantly different market from other timber-producing countries in that the vast majority of American hardwood comes from small lots of naturally-grown and family-owned forest. Unlike man-made plantations, these lots are managed using age-old traditional methods and preserved for wildlife and recreation, with each lot only felling perhaps one or two trees per year and, even then, only when they’ve reached maturity. The timber is then collected along with produce from the hundreds of other lots in the area to make up that region’s output.
This manner of forest management often means that American hardwood can come uncertified by the FSC, as it is extremely challenging for such small and non-commercial lots to gain certification. However, this natural and non-invasive way of managing the forest actually means that American hardwood is some of the most sustainable and ethical timber available. Hardwood forests in the United States have actually increased in size over the past few decades as the trees are growing at a faster rate than they are harvested.
How to Choose American Hardwood
Since it is naturally occurring, American hardwood is largely slow grown, meaning that the timber is often more dense, strong, sound and stable than species from plantations. However, the similarities between different types of American hardwood end there; the huge range of climates and ecosystems across the United States means that the hardwoods sourced there can be as dissimilar and as varied as if they were from different countries.
You can find out in depth information about each of the American hardwoods we supply on our species pages, but here’s a quick guide to each of their properties and uses:
Light gold to white in colour, ash is an attractive and easily workable wood with good strength and shock-resistant properties that make it highly suitable for use in flooring, furniture and other indoor joinery.
Famous for its rich red heartwood, cherry’s attractive finish and excellent workability make it a favourite for woodwork, carving, turning, and the creation of high-end luxury items.
Perhaps best known for its smoking properties, hickory is actually one of the most strong, tough, hard, and stiff timbers on the market. While this can make it difficult to work, once finished it performs excellently under strain and is therefore perfect for use in high-traffic flooring, ladders, tool handles and sports equipment.
Known for its world-famous syrup, maple is also favoured for interior use due to its strength, excellent workability, outstanding finish and beautifully unusual characteristic grain.
Widely used in construction and interior joinery, red oak produces hard and heavy timber which is particularly suited to steam bending. Don’t be fooled by the name though, red oak is not named for the colour of its wood but for the colour of its leaves in autumn.
Similar to European oak, North American white oak is light coloured with longer rays than its red cousin and therefore a much more beautiful figure. White oak’s excellent durability and resistance to decay makes it ideal for external use and it can be found anywhere from construction sites to timber bridges and railway sleepers.
Light yellow to olive green, this unusually coloured wood is extremely easy to work and therefore often used for mouldings, turning, and carving. Tulipwood also takes paint, stain, and enamel beautifully, making it well-suited to use in furniture, cabinets and doors.
Famous for its rich, dark cast with sometimes purple streaking, walnut’s beauty is equally matched by its toughness and durability. Walnut’s dark colours are often used to contrast with lighter timbers so it can often be found in high end furniture and panelling.
Like to Know More?
If you’d like to learn more about the diverse range of American hardwood we stock and why it could be the perfect material for your next project, speak to one of our timber experts today on 01206 233 100 or drop us a line via our contact form.
Your Guide to Waney Edge Softwood
Increasingly popular for its ‘raw’ finish and natural feel, Waney Edge Softwood is fast becoming a firm favourite for innovative designers and architects. However, while many may claim that all softwoods are equal, we’re confident that our Waney Edge Softwood is far more equal than all the others. Here’s why…
What is Waney Edge Softwood?
Coming from the old English word ‘wana’ (which actually means ‘defect’) waney edged timber is wood that has been cut close to the outside of the log, leaving at least one edge that is ‘raw’ or ‘living’ – i.e. not squared off.
Why Choose Thorogood Waney Edge Softwood?
Slow Grown for Maximum Stability & Durability
All of our Waney Edge Softwood is sourced from the southeast of Sweden, an area famed for its high quality softwood due to its extremely slow grown, naturally occurring forests. This slow growth ensures much tighter and denser wood, which leads to much more stable timber that is less likely to move or warp during performance. From these forests, our supplier selects the finest quality redwood, whitewood, and larch butt-logs, chosen to exacting standards.
Sustainability as Standard
Since these forests are naturally occurring rather than planted, and because our supplier is extremely selective, our softwood is also exceedingly sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
Timber Processing by Time-Served Craftspeople
Of course, the strength, stability, and quality of softwood relies as much on how it is processed and conditioned as it does on where it is sourced and from what species.
Each of our Waney Edge Softwood butt-logs is boule cut by a frame saw to precise measurements, ensuring a good selection of both long and wide planks, before being air-dried and then kiln-dried to a higher level of dryness than most other types of Scandinavian Redwood. We also ensure that the post-kilning return to equilibrium happens slowly, to avoid the case-hardening, splitting, and twisting associated with rapid cooling. Boule-cutting and slow drying with the wane on the wood in this way ensures that you receive straighter and more dimensionally-stable timber with a huge variety of dimensions suitable for many different uses.
Lastly, we here at Thorogood choose not to store our softwood outside, which can be detrimental to the quality of the timber, but rather store it inside in protected environments, which ensures it remains of the highest quality right up until it’s placed in your care.
Like to Know More?
If you’d like to know more about our Waney Edge Softwood and why it could be the perfect material for your next project, speak to one of our timber experts today on 01206 233 100 or drop us a line via our contact form.