Local Wood for Local Makers Project
24 / 02 / 2012
Scotland has a wide variety of hardwood trees and many of these are a potential source of beautiful wood for furniture production. Whilst many of our makers work with local timbers, some of them exclusively, the guaranteed availability of timber to a good quality and in the right quantity is a recurring challenge for us.
For many years our deciduous trees have been blighted by disease and land redevelopment. As trees are often not available in large enough quantities for the major sawmills, they sometimes end up as firewood or even go to landfill.
Some of our member makers are able to source single trees and kiln dry the wood whilst others purchase their raw material from one of the many small local timber processors. However this makes only limited use of the potentially available wood. One of the aims of the Scottish Furniture Makersí Association (SFMA) has been to make a more systematic effort to use this valuable resource and moreover to retain it in the form of beautiful handmade furniture in Scotland.
After discussion with Edinburgh and Glasgow Councils, they were both generous enough to donate trees which were being felled for various reasons. From Edinburgh we received six elms from The Meadows and from Glasgow six oaks from Dawsholm Park.
To produce usable timber, the SFMA processed the felled trees by milling them into planks and air and kiln drying them over a period of months. The timber was then made available to our members. A number of bespoke pieces were shown at our Annual Exhibition in the autumn of 2011 and attracted considerable interest from visitors to the show.
This project offers many environmental and economic benefits. Turning the trees into high quality furniture rather than using it for firewood reduces the carbon footprint as carbon is locked away in the timber for many years. Using local trades to process the trees minimises transportation costs and reduces emissions. In turn the local economy benefits as work is provided for local furniture makers and the local timber industry. Also, by working together, a community spirit was fostered amongst fellow craftsmen and links with other industries and organisations were encouraged.
Some of the Edinburgh elm remains to be used. We would welcome commissions to our individual members if you would like to own a bespoke piece and, as we can trace the wood to an individual tree, it will have real provenance.
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