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 (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.