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Use of plantation timber for fine furniture


An innovative table constructed from plantation eucalypt timber is demonstrating how this resource might be used to its highest value into the future.

Forestry Tasmania commissioned Simon Ancher, Academic Director of the Australian School of Fine Furniture, University of Tasmania, to design and produce the piece. Simon lives and works in Launceston, Tasmania, is a member of the Design Institute of Australia, and has received numerous awards and exhibited internationally over the last decade.  Simon’s brief was to produce a piece from sample boards from 22-year-old Eucalyptus nitens (shining gum) trees typical of the large pruned plantation trees that Forestry Tasmania grows for high-value timber.

During the winter of 1984, seedlings of E. nitens trees raised at the Forest Nursery in Perth were used to establish a plantation at Goulds Country, 27 kilometres north of St Helens in north-east Tasmania.  The plantation included a research trial to determine the optimum thinning and pruning techniques for producing eucalypt plantation sawlogs and veneer logs.  Over the following two decades, the pruned and thinned trees were measured over 15 times, and data on their growth and form has helped determine the silvicultural regimes now used widely across the Forestry Tasmania eucalypt plantation estate.  

It is from these Goulds Country trees that the timber used to produce the table was harvested. But Simon has produced more than a table - he has produced a “compact, flexible, multi-use piece of furniture” that highlights the best aspects of the timber.

“It was important for me that the table design challenge basic conceptions of what a table should look like and how it should function. The trough in the middle has an important functional and visual application. Links can be made to the traditional workbench, where a similar trough was employed to store tools ready for use but off the main work surface, leaving it free of clutter for a better work area.

“In this case the trough accepts a sliding modesty panel that could be used for exhibition openings and presentations or simply as a playful element that changes the table’s visual balance and composition depending on placement. The box, too, slides within the trough and can be used for samples or brochures.”

The table and its innovative design embody the confidence of Forestry Tasmania staff that eucalypt plantations established with material from our tree improvement program can be managed to produce high-value products.

Dr Paul Adams

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