Journal

TIDE Timber Guide

December 2019

TIDE timber selection – the in’s an out’s…

When choosing a piece of furniture for your home there are a lot of variables to consider – design, size, material and finish to name but a few.

Here at TIDE we love working with natural timbers – it’s our material of choice – and to assist in choosing between timbers, here is a brief guide that highlights the particular features and traits of each species that we use.

Decisions decisions....

Over the years our standard timber selection here at TIDE has been refined into 5 species. There have been a few pre-requisites in the selection process, and these are as follows:

The timber must be:

  • Sourced from sustainably managed forests;
  • Of a high quality furniture grade quality – in terms of workability, longevity and durability;
  • Beautiful in terms of character, colour and grain, and;
  • Must tie in with the TIDE aesthetic.

The five species we selected fall within these requirements and here are a few more details individually.

American White Oak

AMERICAN WHITE OAK

American White Oak is our most popular timber – and it’s very close sibling, European Oak, has been a very popular furniture timber for centuries.

The current prolonged popularity of American White Oak is largely due it’s aesthetic appeal, given it’s mid-brown tone and strong grain, and also the high level of durability – it is a very hard timber.

American Oak also takes stain/colour really well, and this brings out the striking grain. This is true even of our Ebony finish which is almost completely black – but given the nature of Oak’s strong and open grain these patterns are still present even with such a dark finish.

Given it’s neutral colour and stain-ability we offer American Oak in a range of stain options. Please refer to our Materials and Finishes page here:

In terms of a carbon footprint with consideration given to the long journey to Australia, the “carbon stored in U.S. hardwood at point of delivery to any country in the world almost always exceeds the carbon emissions associated with extraction, processing and transport.” (American Hardwood Export Council website).

TASMANIAN OAK

The Tasmanian Oak used by us at TIDE is a species of Eucalypt sourced and milled in Tasmania.

This is a point worth noting as often the name Tasmanian Oak is associated with a myriad of Eucalypt species from a range of regions (predominantly Victoria).

The Tasmanian Oak we use tends to be denser and therefore heavier than the Victorian species (otherwise known as Victorian Ash), and can also tend to be slightly darker in colour.

The colour of Tasmanian Oak tends to be pale straw to light brown in colour and can often have a pinkish tinge. Over time this colour will deepen and we have found that the pink tones tend to turn attractive rich brown colour.

The majority of Tasmanian Oak is ‘quarter’ cut. This along with the tall and straight nature of the trees results in a very straight grain present in every board – this results in a very clean aesthetic that lets the lines of the piece of furniture speak for themselves. A good example of this is out Tana shelf (below).

While not as hard and heavy as American Oak, Tasmanian Oak is considered to be a medium hardness timber with the advantage of being very stable.

 

AMERICAN WALNUT

American ‘Black’ Walnut is another species sourced from the eastern and central United States and it is a truly beautiful timber.

American Walnut is known for its rich chocolate brown heartwood colour (sometimes with subtle purple tones) and this contrasts quite distinctly with the creamy white sapwood. It’s worth noting that the sapwood has no structural deficiency compared to the heartwood and while we try to minimise the sapwood in every TIDE piece, we find a small amount adds to the overall aesthetic. This also results in less waste of this valuable resource.

It’s also worth noting that Black Walnut is graded differently to other species and there is a greater allowance of knots and blemishes in the select grade that we source. This means there may be the odd small knot or imperfection in larger pieces such as dining table tops, however we find that this adds to the character a natural beauty of the piece.

American Walnut is great to work with due it’s medium density and predictable grain and it gives off a pleasant sweet scent in the production process. It is a durable timber and very stable but not as hard as American Oak.

In terms of sustainability Walnut is one of the few species that is planted as well as re-generated naturally and according to the American Hardwood Export Council is takes 6.84 seconds to 1 cubic metre!

TASMANIAN BLACKWOOD

The name of our fourth species ‘Tasmanian Blackwood’ is somewhat misleading as the timber is never black, but instead typically colours ranging from light golden-brown to deep brown (sometimes with red or green tint). It will occasionally have some black streaks and maybe this is where the name originates.

We introduced Blackwood into our range, as we wanted to offer a mid-dark brown local species, without the strong red usually associated with Australian furniture timber species.

The Blackwood we use is sourced from sustainably managed forests in Tasmania and the tree itself is a fast growing species that establishes itself all the way from low lying areas to higher slopes and occasionally mountain tops.

It is easy to work with and is a strong and stable timber with a colour palette and grain that makes it quite unique.

AMERICAN ROCK MAPLE

American Rock Maple, also know and American Hard Maple our Sugar Maple is a truly extraordinary timber – not the least for the amazing maple syrup that it provides.

This timber has a distinctive pale creamy coloured sapwood, and occasional brown to dark reddish streaks in the heartwood. The grade supplied into Australia will predominately be the very pale colour you see here with subtle (and beautiful) reddish brown grain running through it.

The grain and cell structure of Maple is so tight and dense that it is imperceptible to the touch – and this results in an incredible smooth and soft feel to the finished piece of furniture.

In terms of sustainability, American Rock Maple is regenerating at roughly double the pace that it is being harvested.

As the name suggests American Rock/Hard Maple is a very hard and durable timber, and it excellent to work with. However due it’s very dense grain structure care is need when machining the timber in order to avoid tearing of the grain – otherwise known as ‘chip out’.

We offer American Maple with either a Natural Oil finish – which will result in a slightly golden tone – however our preference is to finish in our White Oil, which really maximises the pale and clean aesthetic that this timber provides.

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