Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Huon Pine

To my fellow Australian followers, Huon Pine ( Lagarostrobos franklinii ) is no stranger. To Tasmanians it's virtually a member of the family. So revered is the timber from the Huon Pine tree, there are only 3 Sawmills licensed to mill the salvaged timber in the entire country. 

It is finely grained, growing about 1mm per year, beautifully coloured and can be found with a 'birdseye' or  'bear claw' figure , rich in insect repellant oils  ( methyl eugenol ) which also give it it's intense and somewhat sweet scent, beautiful to work with hand tools, spectacular to turn on the lathe and is impervious to rot. In reference to the latter, a fallen log was once tested and found to be 38,000 years old. Yes that's 38,000 years! It is said to be the undisputed best boat building timber in the world, full stop. Industries have been formed from it's use and townships have risen on the back of it's value. Pretty special stuff.

I've had a nice stash of Huon in the rack for ages. Carted it around the countryside moving house. Big lumps that I put aside for that rainy day, not really knowing when that would be or what form it would take. Then about a month ago I chopped a bit off the end of one of those lumps for a perch seat for Bec and realised in the process that these pieces of wood are not getting any more special by just sitting in a wood rack, they needed a use and a place. 

We are moving ahead with the cottage and now the focus is back on me to start the ominous task of fitting out the interior with the built in cupboards and fine detail. One of those jobs is to make a window for the bathroom. The bathroom window sits above the shower and lets in a direct beam of sunlight on late afternoons. Having seen my fair share of rotting bathrooms during my stint as a plumber, I knew that I didn't want this window to be affected by water or steam and ultimately if the finish broke down then I did not want the timber to rot. One guess?

So one of the smaller pieces I had was broken down in length then resawn on the bandsaw. 

On the same day I started I finally got my combination machine into the shed, after a long hibernation in a local storage unit. I've missed not having a bench saw. 

So it was put straight to work and cut the rebates into the head and side jambs and a tapered rebate to the sill for water run off. Then another rebate of the side jambs to close the gaps and the roughing out of the frame was complete.

Friday I'll begin to hand cut the 4 through mortises for the two mullions to fit into, get some 6mm toughened glass panes cut, hand plane it smooth and put the whole shebang together. With any luck the window should outlast the house! I'll post some pics of the finished window on the weekend.


  1. Thanks Tim, the workshop smelt amazing for the whole day!