As regular readers will know, we were the proud recipients of innovative thermally-modified hardwood cladding earlier this year when we opened our first building at the Sylva Wood Centre. The cladding featured on BBC Countryfile and has attracted a great deal of interest: read the full story.
In our second feature on this story, Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery talks to James Tyler of Tyler Hardwoods Ltd about an exicting new home-grown hardwood product to be installed at the Sylva Wood Centre.
The thermally-modified hardwood cladding will be used on the first building at the Sylva Wood Centre. The ash and sycamore cladding has been supplied by Tyler Hardwoods, sourced from woodlands in the south-west of Britain. The development of the product and its installation at the Sylva Wood Centre is supported by Grown in Britain.
Q. What are the technical aspects of the product you are suppling to the Sylva Wood Centre?
The timber supplied to the Sylva Foundation is thermally-modified English ash and sycamore, machined to a weather resistant horizontal T&G cladding board.
Q. How is wood thermally modified?
Thermally-modified timber is produced by heating timber to temperatures between 160 and 210°C in the absence of oxygen.
Thermal modification carbonizes free sugars making it less hospitable to organisms (such as wood-boring insects) that would break the timber down, which in turn makes the material more durable. The cabonizing process also thermally fixes the cell stucture making the timber less hydroscopic. This means that the structure is less likely to change shape as it takes on or looses water, therefore rendering the material more stable.
Q. What are the benefits of TM wood generally?
The technical improvements in the properties of the timber after thermal modification are significant, but there are also definite socio-economic and environmental benefits of the process for UK-grown timber, such as:
1.Providing a high value market for under-utilised hardwoods like beech, ash and sycamore.
2.Provides an economic incentive to woodland owners to bring their woodlands into management.
3.The market that the thermally modified product will create for round timber will in turn create associated jobs across the supply chain.
4.An alternative to less-sustainable tropical timbers.
Q. What is the source of the timber? Is it entirely home-grown and home-produced?
The timber for the cladding was sourced from the south-west and supplied by Tyler Hardwoods Ltd. It is either 100% FSC or FSC-controlled wood. Tyler Hardwoods have a Grown in Britain application approved and we are awaiting our audit by TRADA. The material supplied to the Sylva Wood Centre for the cladding is legally and sustainably sourced in the UK.
Currently the timber is modified in Europe as there is no thermal modification manufacturing plant in the UK. The transport to and from a plant in Europe adds significant cost, but it is important to do in order to adequately test the market, before a plant can be built in the UK.
Q. So there are plans to set up a UK thermal modification plant?
The development of the thermally-modified hardwood product is the result of a collaboration between Grown in Britain, Tyler Hardwoods Ltd, Vastern Timber and others including the BRE. We are currently conducting a feasibility study into the viability of a UK-based plant.
Q. Do you have any more of this material in stock?
Yes, we have just sent a second batch off to be treated. It includes beech and lime, as well as ash and sycamore.
Q. Tell me more about your business.
Tyler Hardwoods Ltd is a family-run business specialising in home-grown and imported hardwoods and specialist softwoods. Tyler Hardwoods also offers a specialist wood machining service including steam bending.
Tyler Hardwoods Ltd
Wilts SN8 3NE
Telephone: 01672 871300
This week we took delivery of a brand new product sourced from British forests. The thermally-modified hardwood cladding will be used on the first building at the Sylva Wood Centre. The ash and sycamore cladding was supplied by Tyler Hardwoods, and its application supported by Grown in Britain. We will be following the story of its sourcing, manufacture and application over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile here is a sneak preview of the product. Those who know their timbers will be the first to point out that neither sycamore or ash are durable outdoors, and normally would be unsuitable for cladding. However, the thermal modification process renders their timber durable. This is exciting news for these two timbers especially. Sycamore is one of our fastest growing hardwoods but often goes to low value markets such as firewood. Ash can be high value but has niche markets yet supply is anticipated to increase when ash dieback disease has full impact in our woodlands.
Innovation in timber engineering is an important step towards realising a functional bioeconomy. Watch this space for further details and future updates.
Despite the wet winter we’ve been busy at the Sylva Wood Centre completing the renovation of our old Grain Store. We’ve just completed this timelapse film, taken over several months, which finishes with the fitting of innovative thermally-modified hardwood products, including cladding, windows, and a door. The Brimstone products were provided by Vastern Timber, in turn supported by a grant from the Forestry Commission.
The building is almost unrecognisable from its former state, clad in asbestos and fit only for storage. Most visitors are convinced it is a completely new build.
Our thanks to all those who’ve worked on the building, and to our funders Oxfordshire Leader.
We were delighted to be part of the BBC Countryfile ‘Woodland Extravaganza’ programme broadcast on 19th April.
The work of our charity, including the newly-opened new Sylva Wood Centre, featured alongside many of our friends and partners who we work with on a daily basis including Confor, Small Woods, Birmingham Institute for Forestry Research and Woodland Trust.
If you missed it, the programme is available to watch again via the BBC iplayer online
We are excited to be featuring in the BBC One programme Countryfile this coming Sunday.
The programme, which will be broadcast at 19:00 on Sunday 19th April, is on the theme of Britain’s woodlands. Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery is interviewed among beautiful woodland at the Oxford University Harcourt Arborteum, while two of our first tenants moving into the Sylva Wood Centre also feature.
Rodas Irving of Oxford Oak talks about the installation of the thermally-modified hardwood cladding (read more) at the Sylva Wood Centre, which is being applied thanks to the support of Grown in Britain. Simon Clements, another of our new tenants, talks about moving from his current workshop to our exciting new venue, where we are fostering skills and innovation in home-grown wood.
More about the programme from the BBC Countryfile website:
In this themed programme Ellie Harrison, John Craven and Anita Rani explore Britain’s woodlands. Ellie is high up in the canopy with the scientists collecting leaf buds to learn more about the effects of CO2 on woodland. She then helps release some hedgehogs, one of the nations’ favourite and most-threatened woodland species, back into the wild. John finds out what it takes to manage your own woodland and discovers that the return of the old craft of coppicing is proving a boom to wildlife. He also joins the conservationists using novel methods to increase the dormice populations in Shropshire’s woods. And Anita discovers how to build with baked wood – using a new technique that hardens and weatherproofs timbers making them much more durable and better for building with. Adam Henson has the third and final of the Countryfile’s Farming Heroes nominees. The biggest threat to British trees is disease – and in many cases there’s no cure. Tom Heap investigates the threats to our woodland and finds out what we can all do to defend our trees.
Anita Rani is in Oxfordshire, with the Sylva Foundation, as they open their brand new Wood Centre for the very first time. Anita joins Rodas as he finishes the cladding on the building, which is made from thermally treated British ash and sycamore. This treatment makes the wood more durable, allowing it to be used more widely. Anita meets with one of the new tenants of the Wood Centre, sculptor Simon Clements, who is taking his inspiration from the quivering leaves of the woodland canopy.