Hardwood sawmilling in the UK is probably one of the oldest of the construction industries, indeed here at W L West & Sons Ltd we can trace our tangible company links back 152 years to 1865 in the West Sussex and East Hampshire area, and family links in the forestry and timber industry back over 200 years!
But what of the future of UK hardwood industry? Well we feel it’s got a great future. We are proud to have been involved in the Grown in Britain project from its inception in 2013. We understand that there is a hunger for Great British timber, and from our point of view this means hardwoods. Over many decades we have relied on European imports, mainly of Oak, to meet our demand, and, to be honest, that probably will not change. The consistency of supply, consistency of quality and size will probably dictate this. However there are British hardwoods out there. I have recently bought and milled some great Hampshire Oak, the quality is good, the diameters were good, but the usable length shorter than we find across the channel. This parcel of Hampshire Oak is our very first timber that we can now label as Grown in Britaintimber. There really hasn’t been a better time for British timber. With the advent of Biomass, we should be able to use all of the different grades of timber found in a tree, from joinery, beam, fencing to heat and power.
I think in the UK we possibly have the worst attitude to hardwoods in that we want the holy grail. Attitudes to a more varied quality really do need to change. A better understanding of timber from those designing and specifying need to be achieved and we in the industry need to encourage that to happen if we truly, as a country, want to be environmentally conscientious. Our company tries very hard to ensure we utilise as much of the timber we buy as possible, this is not only an economic decision, its an environmental one as well, shavings recycled to animal bedding, slabwood to biomass and small offcuts to firewood.
So, moving forward, we need to think a little more about what we are using the timber for, do we really need clear, no knots timber? Could you use a different grade? Could we fill any knots and make feature? Have you really discussed this with your end client? Are they aware of the amount of waste that can occur from restricting specifications?
Come on UK, we can do better – Use Timber Wisely!!
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