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Old 26th December 2010, 06:37 AM   #1
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Default Tasmanian Hard Woods

Hi Guys,
While down-under in Tasmania, I took a look at the local woods on offer for potential DIY projects. Tasmania is famous for its woods. The island is a large high-quality timber producer. From memory, around 30% of its land area is devoted to timber. The Tasmanian timber industry is highly regulated. Timber is graded and kiln dry cured while forest resources are managed for sustainability (I wish Asian timber producers could be regulated the same way).

I briefly met several timber and furniture guys but one in particular when out of his way to help. Dennis, the head cabinet maker at the Southern Design Centre in Geevston spent time with me covering the main points on readily available local hardwoods (see pics).

I'm not an expert on woods so I'll give you a brief visual description and do my best to pass on Dennis's suggestions. Please note the pics show wood samples in their raw un-finished state.

Tasmanian Oak
Technically not an "Oak" (its from the Eucalyptus family) but it certainly feels like Oak. The feel and texture resembles a classic light oak. Popular uses include furniture, flooring and panels. From the sample I have, it feels very solid and strong, quite dense. I understand from Dennis, this wood machines and polishes well.

Black-Heart Sasafras
Possible my favourite of the bunch. There's a wonderful 2 tone structure to this wood. There's wonderful light and dark layers that could be made as "mirror" pair front baffles giving a dramatic striking look. However, Sasafras maybe better suited to smaller box designs as is can twist and warp compared to the other hardwoods. This wood finishes well so looks superb as furniture.

This is a nice looking wood. When finished, gives a nice rich warm crimson look. The wood is quite dense. It machines well and can be polish up nicely.

Mrytle has a particularly fine delicate looking grain although the wood is quite dense. The refined pink'ish tone of the grain suites fine woodwork and furniture. It does feel a little lighter and softer than the other woods but this is only my guess from looking at the samples. It machines and finishes well.

Dennis at Southern can make front baffles or smaller boxes. Baffle thicknesses of between 15 to 20-mm should be OK. Their workshop can machine rebates for the drivers. They can also finish the woods with fine polished lacquer. I'm going to send him some front baffle drawings to try out his handy work. Provided the timber size can fit in the post, they'll send overseas.

Email - southdesign@bigpond.com (ask for Dennis - mention Markaudio)
Website - Welcome to the Southern Design Centre


Attached Images
File Type: jpg taz-oak.jpg (272.1 KB, 350 views)
File Type: jpg blackheart-sasafras.jpg (242.3 KB, 344 views)
File Type: jpg blackwood.jpg (187.7 KB, 331 views)
File Type: jpg mrytle.jpg (178.7 KB, 327 views)

Last edited by markaudio; 26th December 2010 at 06:56 AM. Reason: typo mending
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Old 26th December 2010, 10:33 PM   #2
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G'Day Mark

Now you know why I use Tasmanian hardwoods for my enclosures.

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Old 29th December 2010, 11:29 AM   #3
sfreak is offline sfreak  Australia
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As I do work quite often with both Tas Oak and Blackwood on a variety of different projects, I must say Tas Oak is the easier to work with.

Blackwood being as dense as it is (and the fact the dust particles are harmful too), it is a pain to work with as it blunts tools very quickly. And you do have to start with sharp tools as well to get going. But does look so much better polished up, so really is worth the effort put into keeping your tooling sharp.
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Old 9th February 2011, 12:56 AM   #4
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I had a guitar made with Tasmanian Blackwood once. It can look a lot like Koa in many cases.
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Old 10th February 2011, 03:46 AM   #5
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Very cool Mark! Always nice to see other sources for hardwoods as well as the source managing them responsibly. I'm planning on doing a solid wood front baffle for the Super12's if I build them so its cool that you are looking at helping to provide this option for people as well. Beautiful examples for sure!!

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Old 10th February 2011, 05:47 AM   #6
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And while on the flora of the Apple Isle someone told me that Tasmania is one of the largest, if not the biggest, producer of legal opium. Poppies everywhere apparently......!!
"It was the Springtime of the year when aunt is calling to aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps." P.G. Wodehouse.
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