Furniture makers that work with glorious, native Australian timber are true craftsmen with skills that need to be cherished and passed on if we are to continue enjoying beautiful pieces in our homes that display these woods unique grains.
Australia has an abundance of timber that is used in the creation of stylish, handmade wooden furniture that lasts for centuries and complements any home.
The most famous Australian timber is Australian Red Cedar or Toona Ciliata, which is rarely commercially available. However those in the know are sourcing immense pieces from private properties on the nation’s eastern seaboard so they can continue to create the furniture that is adored and collected worldwide.
Australian Red Cedar
This timber was discovered soon after the early settlers arrived in Australia and began cutting wood for their homes and furniture. Australian Red Cedar was thought to be similar in characteristic to traditional mahogany and it is seen to be in short supply now because of enthusiasm shown for this high quality timber in these early days.
In fact, because of its superior properties and because settlers wanted to fill the holds of ships returning to England rather than send them on such long voyages empty, Red Cedar became the first product exported from Australia in 1795.
Red Cedar trees can grow up to 40 metres in height and for mature trees they can measure an amazing three metres in girth. This allows furniture makers to create tables without joins from a single cut – a feat that is rarely accomplished with other timbers.
The oil from Red Cedar is very distinctive. Apart from being a fragrance that is valued it can be used for a number of different purposes in particular around the home such as for protecting surfaces from mould and moisture and deterring insects from taking up residence.
Originally thought of as a unique timber in Australia growing along the east coast, it is now understood that Red Cedar is also found in The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and even in parts of India with the quality diminishing with its proximity to the equator.
Silver Ash, or ‘Bumpy Ash’ as it is known locally, is a beautiful pale wood that is considered medium in size with an average height of 35 metres. Generally about 1 metre in diameter, it is easily identified in the rainforest areas that it likes the best by the swellings on the tree trunk. These swellings conceal the circles where branches have broken away.
Usually found in northern NSW and across Queensland, Silver Ash gets its name from the natural colour of the wood that ranges from silver-white to a pale shade of yellow.
It is used extensively in the creation of handmade furniture and because it bends with ease, it is also popularly used in the building of boats.
White Beech or Grey Teak is well known as the most sought after timbers for carving in Queensland. Larger than Silver Ash at an average height of 40 metres and 1.5 metres in diameter, White Beech is also found in rainforest areas on the east coast of Australia.
The natural colour of White Beech ranges from pale yellow to a light grey and is a very strong wood with a high resistance to abrasion, but easy for craftsmen to work with.
Care needs to be taken as it is known for having a considerable amount of shrinkage and it is advisable to keep it away from water during the construction phase.
The word Jarrah is the Aboriginal name for this Australian timber, otherwise known as Eucalyptus Marginate. It grows to a height between 30 to 40 metres and is only found in the south west region of Western Australia.
A gorgeous deep red hue, Jarrah is known for its strength just as much as its versatility and termite resistance. The flowers of the Jarrah tree have a delightful fragrance, emerging every other year they attract local bees rendering them perfect for honey production.
Due to the extremely dense nature of Jarrah it is considered fire resistant and because they germinate from lignatubers they easily regrow in areas that have been devastated by bushfires.
A Broad Range of Australian Timber
The Australian timber mentioned in this post are just a few of the extensive range of naturally found wood in this vast country. With so many unique trees it is easy for handmade furniture makers to create stunning pieces of furniture that last for generations as pride of place in the family home.