Timber utilised by Uneke Furniture
Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)
Other common names:
The stunning timber radiates a subtle beauty that makes it irresistible to Tasmanian designers. It boasts a variety of colours ranging from light golden-brown to deep brown (sometimes with a reddish tint) and occasionally shows black streaks.
Additional character is in the grain, which can be straight or wavy with a natural lustre. It is easily worked, very stable and is long lasting. The finished piece is always a statement of style and quality.
More recently, the production of high quality veneers has increased its versatility for joinery, cabinet making and feature paneling. Small cross sections of solid timber are also used for lamination, particularly for bench tops.
Blackwood is a member of the wattle family and a hardwood. It occurs throughout Tasmania’s native forests from sea level to 1000m in elevation but it thrives in swamp and riverine areas. It is also a common understorey component of wet eucalypt forest. The swamps of north west Tasmania, where there are almost pure stands, have been a primary source of high quality blackwood for more than a century and this resource has been the cornerstone of Tasmania’s fine furniture industry over that time.
About 8000ha of swamp forest are dedicated to Blackwood silviculture on a sustained yield basis. Rotations are generally of the order of 70 years for native forest.
Blackwood is an easy tree to grow. A big advantage for establishing Blackwood forest is that its durable seed remains viable in the soil for decades. After harvest, regeneration treatment involves burning to encourage germination, and fencing to protect seedlings from browsing wildlife. Young seedlings are very palatable to pademelons, wallabies and other native animals.
About 700ha of plantations have been established and more are planned. These trees will be ready to harvest 40 years after planting.
In the past demand has sometimes exceeded supply, but thanks to the work of progressive manufacturers who have made a feature of character blackwood in their work, even knotty and naturally flawed sections of logs are now used. As a result of sensible, sustainable management, Tasmania Õs talented designers and manufacturers will always have access to the small but reliable supply. Equally the continuity of a unique species favoured in the Australian furniture market is assured.
Tasmanian Oak (Eucalyptus delegatensis, Eucalyptus obliqua and Eucalyptus regnans)
Other Common Names:
Victorian Ash, Australian Oak.
Tasmanian Oak is the name used for three almost identical species of eucalypt hardwoods that are normally marketed collectively. E. delegatensis grows at higher altitudes, while E. regnans is found in wetter sites. E, obliqua has a wide distribution, occurring in wet forests but also extending into drier areas.
Tasmanian Oak is a warm, dense and resilient hardwood. It works extremely well and produces an excellent finish. It can be used in all forms of construction as scantlings, panelling and flooring, and can be glue-laminated to cover long spans. Veneers, plywood and engineered products are available. It is also a popular furniture timber, and Eucalypt fibre is sought after for reconstituted board and production of high quality paper.
Tasmanian Oak is light in colour, varying from straw to reddish brown with intermediate shades of cream to pink. It is recognised for its excellent staining qualities, which allow ready matching with other timbers, finishes or furnishings.
The name Tasmanian Oak was originally used by early European timber workers who believed the eucalypts showed the same strength as English Oak.
Eucalypts are light demanding and grow best where they are not overshadowed. Regeneration occurs after fire, and seedlings establish best on bare mineral soil in the absence of leaf litter. In Tasmania, eucalypts may live for 400 years or more and regularly attain a height of 70m; some individuals have been recorded as reaching 100m. Old growth trees may be 3-4m or more in diameter.
Over 1 million hectares of eucalypt forest on public land are managed for sustainable multiple uses that include tourism, recreation, timber production, and conservation. There are also 2.7 million hectares of land secured in dedicated reserves in which logging is not permitted. These reserves comprise 40% of the area of the state. A substantial area of forested land is owned privately and managed for its timber production. Approximately 500,000m3 of logs are sawn each year.
Myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii)
Other Common names:
Beech, Myrtle Beech, Tasmanian Myrtle, and Australian Cherry
Myrtle is a striking wood with rich red, brown, and almost orange tones. It’s believed the richness of colour comes from the quality of the soil it grows in. The deepest red myrtle comes from highly fertile soils on basalt.
The colour is vibrant, combining subtle variations in tone with the texture and sheen of wavy and fiddleback features to produce a surface alive with character and individuality. While a pale and pink myrtle resource is available, commercial production concentrates on the deeper red variety. It is a close grained species with well defined annual rings but with little latewood.
Taking a deep lustre when polished, myrtle is prized by architects and furniture makers alike. It is used as a solid or veneer in high quality furniture, joinery and cabinet making, as flooring and feature panelling in homes and offices, or as a striking finishing timber for cornices, architraves and skirting.
Commercial producers enjoy working with red myrtle because the fine aesthetic qualities of the wood are matched by its working properties. It is particularly easy to work and makes excellent veneer.
It has further applications for craft workers. Myrtle turns well and traditionally has been used for spindle turning and bowls. Craft workers particularly favour burls and knotty wood.
Myrtle belongs to the same family as the beeches of Europe. It is found in any of the wet forests across Tasmania, more frequently in the north-west and west of the State. Providing conditions are moist and sheltered, the tree flourishes from sea level to the tree line.
Myrtle regenerates continuously in the absence of fire, growing in openings in the stand providing conditions are moist and sheltered. In exposed areas myrtle can be susceptible to insect and fungal attack which damage the timber and kill the tree, making it unsuitable for growth in plantations. As a consequence, future supplies of myrtle will come from selective harvesting of forests grown on longer rotations.
Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata)
Other Common Names:
Swan River Mahogany
Jarrah is a unique, premium quality Australian hardwood grown exclusively in the South West of Western Australia. Its rich colour and beautiful grains have long made it a highly prized timber throughout the world, particularly in the manufacture of high quality furniture.
The color of Jarrah ranges from a rich reddish brown to a soft salmon pink.
The wood is typically a rich, reddish brown color, with a pale whitish-yellow sapwood band around the outside of the log.
Jarrah trees grow only in the south-west corner of Western Australia.
The Western Australian government recently halved the quota of Jarrah available for harvest under its new forest management plan to be administered by the FPC (Forest Products Commission) and implemented from January 2004. This new quota is down from levels that industry sources have already claimed to be too low. The FPC has concluded that as a result of the new management plan, the price of Jarrah will most certainly rise.
Higher value Jarrah is produced after green timber is air-dried in a suitably controlled environment for up to three years. The price premium for air-dried timber is currently around 75% over green timber.