Each year, Forestry and Land Scotland produces some 3.2 million cubic metres of timber. The vast majority is grown to standard dimensions that can be cut to size for use in construction, fencing and paper production, or as pallets, woodchip and woodfuel. A small proportion our timber, on account of its size or species, falls into that we term specialist timber where customers look to character, provenance and scale to meet often very unique client orders.
Our specialist timber customers tend to be smaller business who produce bespoke architectural housing, furniture or other unique, one-off products. We are constantly surprised by the eclectic and interesting projects in which our timber takes centre stage. You will find a selection of these projects further down this page.
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Specialist timber tends to be from less common tree species or trees that are much larger than most of our customers require. Growing or harvesting these trees can be technically challenging, requiring particular knowledge, skills and machinery which are not encountered by our foresters in the harvesting of conventional timber.
Masts for a maritime icon
In 2016 we were asked by Mackays of Arbroath to supply two new ships masts for the PS Waverley - the world's last ocean-going paddle steamer and an icon of Scotland's maritime history. After a nationwide search of Scotland's national forests, two seventeen metre logs were sourced from Faskally, near Pitlochry. The logs were transferred to Arbroath where they were worked on using traditional boat-building tools.
Finding the right tree for an Iron Age canoe
Logs of the size requested by the School of Ancient Crafts in Edinburgh – nine metres long with a diameter of 0.8 metres - are not common in Scotland. However, a search of our forests led us to some stunning douglas fir trees which had been harvested at Primrose Bay, above Loch Ness. The unusually large log was located on a remote, steep hillside and its extraction required the full range of skills held by our foresters and harvesting contractors.
The log was transported to the Hub in Granton, Edinburgh, where it has become the focus of a community project that will see it converted into a replica Iron Age canoe using traditional hand tools.
- Rolling the Log - Boat from Gareth Hutchison on Vimeo.
From Balgownie to beehives
Western red cedar is more commonly found in the west of North America, but a small population found in our forests has proven very popular with a niche group of customers. The logs pictured above were bound for a West Lothian sawmill who cut timber for the fabrication of beehives. Cedar timber has anti-bacterial properties which helps maintain hygiene in the hive. Renowned as one of the most durable woods in the world, it's also popular with building firms involved in bespoke architecture.
Local, sustainable and unique
Many of our specialist timber customers recognise the value of telling a story with their product. Home-grown timber which comes from a sustainable source can be an important aspect of that story, as can be seen in this characterful oak mantle piece sawn from a log from the north Highlands.