Messmate Vs Ash timber

Which…Wood….you choose?

Mark Mortelliti is Proprietor of Lifestyle Furniture Melbourne and President of the Furnishers Society of Victoria has been selling timber furniture for 20 years.

The beauty of timber furniture is always in the eye of the beholder. We are unique individuals and as such different timbers will “speak” to people differently. I watch every week as those frequenting my showroom reach out their hand and run it along the length of the timbers in our showroom tables as if reaching out to nature.

That raises the question of which timber will I have my furniture crafted from?

Two timbers which are related to each other and yet very different to each other are, Messmate and Victorian Ash. Both these timbers are terrific for furniture making and have similar density and strength characteristics.

Messmate Timber

Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua),

Messmate timber furniture contains strong grain patterns and character. The timber features magnificent whirled grains patterns, gum veins, pin holes, squiggly worm trails and natural stains from fire, wind and flood.

You will be drawn to the natural feel and beauty of this Australian Hardwood. Messmate timber is brown to light-brown.  Also called Messmate Stringy bark it grows naturally in parts of Victoria and Tasmania, and less widely in South Australia, the tablelands of NSW and southern Queensland.

Messmate timber has in recent years become a popular choice for furniture makers as the timber takes very well to a range of stain colours. The fact that the grain patters are stronger and more varied also means the timber is somewhat more forgiving when the marked  or scratched by the younger family members in day to day use. With Messmate no two pieces of furniture will ever be the same each is beautifully unique. Whereas Victorian ash is very consistent in its straight grain character.

Victorian Ash Timber

Victorian Ash (Eucalyptus regnans),Also known as Tasmanian Oak

Victorian Ash is the trade name for both Alpine and Mountain Ash. Mountain Ash, Eucalyptus regnans, has the distinction of being the world’s tallest flowering plant. Recorded before the turn of the century at exceeding 100 m tall.

Together with Silvertop Ash, Eucalyptus sieberi, Victorian Ash has become the staple hardwood of furniture makers around the world. Consistently even grain, long lengths and similar appearance of these species have also contributed to their desirability.

Because of their relatively consistent colour (ranging from a pale pink and reddy browns to a pale straw) Victorian Ash/ Tasmanian Oak lend themselves to most applications where a quieter and more contemporary feel is required. It is quarter sawn giving an extremely straight grain. It is an ideal hardwood for furniture.

Victorian ash is plantation grown in Australia and as such is an Eco Friendly choice however if the furniture has been produced overseas the 32,000km round trip should be taken into account.

Matching timber furniture to your home decor

So you’ve found a great price of furniture but are stuck on how to get it to fit style-wise into your home? Just follow these simple steps to ensure your furniture not only looks great in your home but looks like it belongs too.

First to consider is colour. With furniture you can either blend with what is in your home or go for a deliberate contrast. For example: if you have Tasmanian oak floors and choose a Tasmanian oak table the table can get lost amongst the same colour timber. To offset this you can choose upholstered back chairs in a strong colour to differentiate whilst tying it all together. On the other side if you choose a table that is very dark in contrast to the light Tasmanian oak floors that is enough contrast to make the setting look great. Simply accompany the table with timber back chairs of the same colour.

The other mention in using colours is tying your other pieces of furniture together by utilising the same colour theme for all pieces in the house. For example: If you have dark furniture in your living room, carry this on into the dining room, study and bedroom too. It will connect all your furniture and make the whole house come together in style.

The second point to consider is on using accessories. Items such as mirrors, cushions, wall art, and other similar pieces are the icing on the cake. They can enhance the room by adding colour and finishing off the room setting. Use colours that bring out the tones of the timber. For example: for a Red Gum TV Unit you can add cushions on the sofa in various hues of red to bring out the rich red colours that Red Gum timber is known for. And if the sofa is in a neutral colour like cream or light grey the red cushions will also contrast with the sofa and tie the room together.

The third point I will mention is choosing if your style will be contemporary or traditional. Modern timber furniture is typically square edged, with lots of straight lines and a uniform and symmetrical layout design. Traditional style tends to be about details like tapered or turned legs, detailed edges like shark nose or bull nose, sometimes involves wrought iron and sometimes with carved details. The current trends are all about modern styles with bright vibrant colours. My suggestion however is choose a style that A) suits your house and B) you most enjoy.

So there you have it. 3 simple rules for matching timber furniture to your home décor: Colour, Accessories and Style.

Written by
Nathan Brown
Lifestyle Furniture

Tips on Timber Furniture: Choosing the right timber

Choosing the right timber for your furniture can be a hard and perplexing process. With so many different species to choose from, it can sometimes be difficult to decide on the right look and to suit your interior inside your home.

Timber varies in grain, colour and density. Australian hardwoods vary in so many different ways. From the extremely dense Red gum with its distinct red colour and beautiful grain patterns to Victorian Ash featuring its more linear grain and the choice to have it stained to any colour, we are often spoilt for choice.

To chose the right timber there a few factors that you must consider. Have a look around at your home, and think about what would best suit your home and lifestyle. One of the 1st things that we all think of first would be the floor colour. Timbers with a light colour or shading are often best suited to a darker coloured floor and timbers darker in colour can often look the best on a lighter coloured floor. This can create a nice contrast between the two and make your furniture a stand out centrepiece. This is where timbers that can be stained to different colours are often the best choice.

Timbers such as Blackwood vary from very dark grain all the way to blonde. Such a beautiful timber but remember that this particular timber is not very dense and this may be a problem if you plan to use it every day or you have young children as the timber may dint and scratch quite easily. When making a decision, consider the look but also the functionality.

Another factor to take into consideration would be grain patterns. Timbers like Messmate and Marri have a lot of character such as gum veins, and this can often reflect a more Rustic look. These sorts of timbers are best used to complement a more traditional style but with so many different styles available, you can change the overall appearance of the furniture by creating a modern look with minimal overhangs and flush drawer fronts.

Ask most Australians and they would know all about Red gum. With its rich red colour and stunning grain patterns such as fiddle back, it is always a favourite. This timber is also very hard so it is suitable for all homes as it can take almost anything we throw at it. Just remember to think wisely where you would like it to go in your home because once it placed into position, you will have a hard time picking up and moving due to its weight.

Jarrah is also a desired choice with its dark rich red colour and consistent grain. It is also a very dense timber so easily dinting and scratching will not be a problem. Although most people love Jarrah, it is not always a suitable choice because it needs the right surroundings to enhance it’s natural magnificence but in the right surroundings, this timber will look extraordinary.

One of the most common timbers used in furniture today is Victorian Ash. It has a neat even grain and is naturally a very light coloured timber. Been such a light timber, it can be stained or coloured to almost any colour you desire. Quite often people will choose this timber because they have the ability to match any existing furniture they currently have in their home. This will even apply if they have different timbers. By supplying a colour sample from a piece of furniture such as drawer, professional strainers can quite easily match the colour.

For some, making the right choice can be a long and overwhelming process. There are hundreds of different timbers currently used in furniture today so it pays to do your research and also ask as many questions to the right people to make sure you have made the decision.

Mark Mortelliti

Custom Timber Furniture – Lifestyle Furniture

Lifestyle Furniture offers a huge range of LOWLINE Solid Timber
TV and Audio Entertainment Units. Made-to-order so you can size-to-fit.
Wide, narrow, long, short, low, medium, high, corner, more shelves,
more openings, cable cut-outs, doors, no doors, whatever you desire.
We’ll create a furniture masterpiece that showcases your home space.

Australian timbers used in furniture

There are many species of Australian timbers available that are ideal in the manufacturing of timber furniture. Each boasts unique characteristics and whatever your choice it will never be the wrong one. It’s just a matter of taste.

Jarrah (Eucalyptus Marginata)

Jarrah features a signature smooth grain with rich deep red to red-brown tone natural
timber colouration, which is found only in this Australian Hardwood Timber, often referred to as the magnificent Australian natural resource.

Furniture made from Australian Jarrah Hardwood Timber is always of exceptional character and when placed in the hands of an Australian craftsman furniture maker the results are spectacular, timeless heirlooms of the future.

Australian Jarrah Hardwood is grown in the far south west corner of Western Australia and is limited in supply, making it one of the more expensive of Australian Hardwoods.

Australian Jarrah Hardwood Timber Density is 820kg per cubic meter, placing it amongst the highest, hardest, and most durable of all Australian Hardwood Timbers.

Redgum (Eucalyptus Camaldulensis)

Red Gum Hardwood Timber features deep, lustrous red wine hues with inter-twined grains that are characteristic of this world famous hardwood timber.
Australian Red Gum Hardwood Timber is amongst the strongest & most beautiful hardwoods in the world, a highly sought hardwood for Australian and International Furniture Manufacturers, very popular hardwood timber choice with our customers whatever age group, decor or usage requirements. It’s beautiful appearance commands attention, no need for colour stains on this one, its best left natural with a clear
finish, hand rub or natural oiling.

Australian Red Gum Hardwood Timber is very hard wearing, great for the active family with children, teenagers and lots of entertaining. The Australian Red Gum Tree is naturally resistant to termites and was used extensively by Early European Settlers. It is common to find trees well over 100 years old growing along the waterways of Victoria, primarily the Ovens, Goulburn and Murray rivers.

Australian Red Gum Hardwood Timber density is 900kg per cubic meter, making it the perfect Australian Hardwood Furniture Timber choice.

Victorian Ash (Eucalyptus Regnans)

Victorian Ash Hardwood Timber is characterised by its consistently straight grain and little or no gum veins. The natural colouring of this Australian Hardwood ranges
from pale pinks to red browns and pale straw.

Victorian Ash is also known as Mountain Ash, Alpine Ash and Tasmanian Oak. Victorian Ash Hardwood is the world’s tallest flowering plant, and right on our doorstep in abundance which makes it a popular choice for local furniture manufacturers and customers.

Victorian Ash Hardwood is grown throughout the mountain regions of Victoria, Tasmania and southern New South Wales, with an average wood density of 750kg per cubic meter, it’s a perfect timber for furniture manufacturing requirements, always resulting in a beautiful finished piece of quality furniture.

Messmate (Eucalyptus Obliqua)

Messmate Hardwood Timber has gum veins and natural characteristics not found in other hardwood timbers. The natural colour palette of brown to light-brown hues,
looks great finished in a clear hand rubbed bees wax, especially the Re-claimed Messmate Hardwood, allowing the up to 80 years of weathered ageing process, inherent timber character present itself in all it’s natural glory.

Unbelievable character and charm captured for life. New milled Messmate Hardwood Timber Furniture is often stained a darker colour to suit specific decor and architectural preferences. The variety of grain & texture make it ideal for families with active children & teenagers as the finished timber surface is more forgiving of bumps & scratches. The Australian Messmate Tree is grown widely across the south-east end of Australia, from South Australia, Southern Victoria, Tasmania & Eastern New South Wales. It’s most likely to grow in rain forests in coastal regions.

Australian Messmate Hardwood Timber Density is 830kg per cubic meter.

Blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon)

Blackwood Hardwood Timber features a diverse, distinctive colour palette, ranging from reds and browns, orange and salmon pink, through to deep chocolate.
The Blackwood Tree is grown environmentally sustainably throughout Tasmania’s native forests and swamp areas. Australian Blackwood Hardwood Timber is highly regarded in the industry by specialist cabinet and furniture makers.
Staining is an option but Blackwood Hardwood Timber looks best finished in a clear oil, lacquer or varnish. Australian Blackwood Hardwood Timber has been used for furniture making in Tasmania & Main Land Australia since the 19th Century and continues to be a favourite choice amongst our customers.

Australian Blackwood Timber Density is 640 kg per cubic meter.

Marri (Corymbia Calophylla)

Marri Hardwood features a beautiful blend of nutmeg to honey colour tones running through a distinct display of gum veins and grain patterns that are unique to this
Australian home grown Hardwood. Its unique signature is the strong deep dark gum lines.

It’s a unique timber in real term rarely used so it stands out as something very different.

Marri Hardwood (Corymbia Calophylla), formerly known as Eucalyptus Calophylla, is native to the far south west region of Western Australia. It often grows amidst the Jarrah and Karri forests.

Marri Hardwood Timber has a durability of 850kg per cubic metre making it a favourite hardwood timber selection for craftsman furniture makers in Australia.


Written by
Nathan Brown
Lifestyle Furniture