Choosing your timber
08.16 // Tips & Tricks
Today we’re breaking down the question of what timber to use for your custom piece..
Understandably, it is one of the main question we discuss with our custom clients so thought it was a good topic to delve into a little more.. When we started out we primarily only used recycled timber, and whilst we have diversified over the past 3 years into other timbers we will probably continue to harp on about how amazing recycled timber is for many years to come and push it for most of our custom jobs… the amazing colour and grain variation you get from using solid recycled hardwood is incredible and the end result is always a beautiful feature piece of furniture.
That being said, it definitely doesn’t suit every design or context so it is important to compare all the options before deciding on whether to use a new or recycled timber option.
Here are few things to think about when you’re deciding on your timber:
Whilst all timber offers a slight variation in colour due to it being a natural product, a new hardwood such as spotted gum or blackbutt will offer a consistent colour throughout the piece. With a recycled timber, whilst it primarily is all in the same colour range the timber boards have a lot more variation throughout the boards and feature imperfections such as holes which makes it a little more difficult to have a table completely consistent in colour.
We generally find that if you’re after a more consistent colour or grain, or having something built to work in with an existing piece of furniture or joinery it might be better to use a new hardwood. As an example we’re renovating a house at the moment and all of the built in joinery such as doors, work stations and shelving is made from new blackbutt, where as the dining table & bench are a darker recycled timber with a lot of grain variation and imperfection to allow it to be the main feature of the place.
Want to know a bit more about the timbers available? See a bit more detail about some of the main furniture hardwood options at the bottom of this article.
Sometimes associated with the ‘rustic’ tagline, the use of recycled timber has definitely come along way and there has definitely been a shift in the past few years towards still using recycled timber but with more modern and refined designs, with the pieces still having the strong colouring, grain variations and imperfections. If you’re not looking for rustic, definitely don’t be scared off by recycled timber, as it can look very modern depending on the design. If you are wanting more rustic there are particular finishings style such as wire brushing which help to to bring out the natural imperfections in the timber.
Always remember, when selecting your design & style of furniture, that trends are great and look amazing on Pinterest but make sure you think about designing for your own personal context and how it will work in your space. (Read a bit more about our thoughts on it here: http://timbermill.com.au/how-to-choose-your-dining-table/)
Whilst we can easily source and match all our new timber supply in the desired lengths and thicknesses, all of our recycled timber stock comes in batches and once a batch is gone, it’s gone forever and the chances of us finding an exact match is pretty slim. Sometimes we’ve got a huge supply of 45mm thick hardwood, other times none of that and all thinner flooring boards…
For one off tables or feature pieces, this means using a recycled timber gives you the chance to have a completely one off table with it’s own unique imperfections and colouring. Perfect for a space wanting that one off feature furniture piece or joinery item.
Though, if you’re trying to match to another piece or have something that suits an existing colour scheme it might be better to look at a new timber. In new timber, we work with standard thicknesses of 25mm, 32mm or 45mm thick. In any furniture quote we will list the thickness based on the size/shape of your piece. If you have a particular request, it’s important to make it clear upfront.
Things to think about:
Are you wanting a consistent colour and grain or something that varies throughout the piece?
Are you wanting to match this piece to something else (for example floors or joinery)? Or will it be a feature piece?
What overall design style or trend are you trying to achieve? Is it a more rustic look; or perhaps scandinavian, modern or retro?
So now you’ve had a think about whether recycled or new timber would suit what you’re after, we’ve listed a bit of detail about a few of our most popular timber options below:
Recycled Hardwood timber // With recycled timber, it is hard to ever know the exact species for most timbers we come across, although the main species we see are spotted gum, blackbutt, ironbark, oregon, tallowwood and brushbox.
Spotted Gum // Along with blackbutt, Spotted Gum is a popular favourite amongst the Timbermill workshop for new hardwood options. Named after the ‘spotted’ gum sap veins throughout, the heartwood ranges from a light brown through to dark red brown hues; whilst the sapwood is usually a light brown in colour.
Blackbutt // One of the ‘hardest’ hardwood options around, Blackbutt is a much lighter species, with golden ash tones and a streaky grain throughout. Blackbutt works well against other timbers within a space.
American (white) Oak // One of the most on trend timbers of late, American oak’s beautiful light yellow colouring matches the clean, scandinavian style seen lately throughout interiors. Being a strong timber colour, it does provide a feature and is suitable if you’re after very consistent colouring and grain direction throughout the timber.
Oregon timber // A softwood with red and orange tones and strong growth rings, it is often available in recycled due to it’s previous common use as a structural framing timber. Is slightly coarser than other timbers, and suits a more rustic and natural look.