Cusp hosts Australian Veneer Association

The Timber Veneer Association of Australia’s (TVAA) members have recently returned home from a Veneer Manufacturing tour of Northern Tasmania. Association members, who include some of the country’s leading furniture, component manufacturers and timber veneer manufacturers, left with a thorough understanding of production and environmental credentials of Tasmania’s veneer industry, and an appreciation for the complexity and value of the sector.

Thirty-five TVAA members were guided by Shawn Britton and TVAA President Anthony Wardrop to Britton Timbers sawmill in Smithton, Britton Timbers Plantation Forest just outside of Smithton, Cusp Building Solutions and Britton Timbers Veneer Mill in Somerset.

Participants were shown through various manufacturing processes involving the processing of logs; sawing, drying and profiling at the Smithton Mill, witnessing Tasmanian Oak and Tasmanian Blackwood being processed by highly skilled operators at the mill. This was followed by a visit to a plantation site where they learnt more about the regeneration of plantation forests and the care and maintenance of trees throughout their lifecycle through to harvest.  They learned that techniques such as cold burning forests and pruning and thinning of forests proved vital in the health and well-being of the forest.

The sheer time it takes to regenerate timber and properly season it ready to manufacture was the big takeaway here.

Evan Danahay, TVAA Secretary

From Smithton the tour moved to Cusp Building Solutions, where General Manager Michael Lee took the TVVA members through the processing and construction advantages of Cross Laminated Timber utilising Tasmanian Plantation Oak, which is often destined for pulp/ paper.

“We finished our day at Britton Timbers veneer mill in Somerset. Here we witnessed various Tasmanian species of timber veneer being sliced, dried, joined and pressed onto panels ready to be sent off to their new home as joinery, wall and ceiling panels, and furniture.

With state-of-the-art equipment and long-established European manufacturing techniques, tour participants received an education in the environmental advantages of using sustainably sourced timber in modern construction in lieu of traditional, carbon-heavy materials such as concrete and steel. This was a big eye-opener as to where the construction industry is heading and the involvement of timber.

Evan Danahay, TVAA Secretary

Leading Australian manufacturer Simon Bowler, from Silver Lynx in Victoria, was a guest on the tour. Silver Lynx manufactures bedroom furniture for Australia’s four biggest bedding retailers – Snooze, Harvey Norman, Domaine and 40 Winks.

“Our customers want to know about the sustainability of our products. Their QA programs are rigorous. “It is such a great story here in Tasmania. They are adding great value from end to end. They’re managing the forest really well both regrowth and plantations.”

Bowler was surprised about just how much work goes into managing the forests.  

They are adding great value from end to end. They’re managing the forest really well both regrowth and plantations.

Simon Bowler, Silver lynx

“These are the best timbers in the world. Why wouldn’t you add value to them? The industry has a bright future.”

Belinda Hovell from Worldwide Timber Traders said, “It does influence the decisions that our customers make. It was great to learn about the lengths Tasmanian processors go to make the process as sustainable as possible.”

It’s a beautiful circular economy. Everyone is thinking about how to keep the waste down and how to make everything else better. It’s huge from an environmental and sustainability perspective.

Belinda Hovell, World Wide Timber Traders

The tour also explored the local production forests to better understand where the veneer resource comes from.

“We went to a plantation where the trees were 13 years old and then a natural forest where the trees were 30 years old. To visually see how long it takes to grow a tree – I don’t think people quite understand. The importance of regrowth and keeping the resource going is critical. Tassie has got that right for sure. It’s very impressive to see.”