“It is our deepest respect for the tree which impels us to master the difficult art of Joinery, so that we may offer the tree a second life of dignity and strength.”
George Nakashima – The Soul of a Tree
The careful and sustainable use of fine timber is a key driver in the construction of Tony Kenway Furniture pieces.
Tony chooses timber from selectively logged trees, or from fallen or dying trees, sourced directly from small mills or forest scavengers.
Through his 30 year involvement using Australia’s fine subtropical timbers, Tony has developed a keen interest in sustainable forestry specific to these species. The fertile volcanic soil of the north east coast of NSW Australia where Tony lives, was once the largest subtropical forest in Australia. Due to the prevalence of fine timber, the forest has supported a strong tradition in furniture making, which Tony Kenway continues to uphold.
In recent years the profitability of farming the cleared land has become less viable. A new wave of landowners interested in reafforestation using indigenous species has arisen.
Tony Kenway Furniture is a key supporter in these new ventures. Tony is now directly involved with the establishment of some of the largest Cabinet Timber Plantations in NSW providing advice on growth rates and specie selection. He has managed the planting of 400,000 rainforest trees on private property in Northern NSW.
Tony feels very fortunate to have access to some of the most beautiful timbers in the world. Australian and southern hemisphere timbers are particularly known for their rich colour and translucent quality. As these timbers vary considerably, Tony is directly involved with the selection of special pieces from very old, dead or fallen logs that have matured to develop superb figure and colour.
Australian Red Cedar
Referred to as ‘Red Gold’ in the 1800’s, Red Cedar’s exquisite beauty and furniture making qualities led to a rush to cut these forest giants, resulting in over-clearing of some of Australia’s richest volcanic land.
Cedar matures into a huge tree supported by Sub Tropical Rainforest. Reasonably fast growing, quality timber can be expected after 100 years growth. It can be found in paddocks and in gullies on farmland.
Australian Silky Oak
Northern Silky Oak
Silky Oak derives its name from its silky shimmer and trade mark ‘Oak’ fleck which is most noticeable on boards that are cut parallel to the medullary ray. It has been widely used in Australia for furniture and joinery since the early settlers and is known for its beauty, stability and durability.
Silky Oak has been recognised as an important plantation species abroad due to its rapid growth rate and timber quality. It is currently being harvested in South America and sold in USA and back to Australia as ‘Lacewood’.
Tasmania is known for its timbers and Huon is its most renowned. Initially prized for its durability as boat building timber, it is now highly sought after for its beauty, extremely fine texture and its carving and furniture making qualities.
Huon is very slow growing; trees have been found to be two to three thousand years old.
It has now become one of the world’s rarest timbers. Only three small mills in Tasmania (and the world) are licensed to salvage logs from the dam-flooded rivers, where the logs are hauled from the deep waters.
Tasmanian Blackwood was recognized as one of the ‘world’s finest cabinet timbers’ by the first craftsmen to arrive in Australia. It has been widely used in quality antiques and was used as a decorative timber by the royal coach builders of the 1800’s.
Today, most Blackwood is being harvested from plantations or regrowth forest. However, the finest timber comes from the older trees before they deteriorate and die. It is found in paddocks and on farm land in North Western Tasmania and has become scarce.
This timber is often highly figured, mostly sawn into veneers and used for guitar making as it has excellent acoustic properties.
Silver Ash grows mainly in the rainforests of Northern NSW, plus Southern and Northern Qld. As a species it is increasingly limited in commercial quantities due to world heritage listing restrictions. The timber varies from creamy white to pale yellow, and it has an open straight grain with a medium to uniform texture. It is used in furniture, veneers, cooperage and boat building.
Queensland Maple grows naturally only in Northern Qld rainforests between Townsville and Windsor Tableland. It is a stunning shade tree and renowned for its striking pink wood which adorns many heritage homes and furniture pieces.
As much of its natural habitat is heritage protected, Queensland Maple is becoming more difficult to source, the lustrous sheen of the pink to brownish-pink heartwood makes for a distinctive timber. As well as furniture, it was used for aeroplane propellers, coaches, carriages and boats. It is still popular for musical instruments like guitar necks and piano parts.
The timber is enhanced by a distinctive grain that is somewhat interlocked and often wavy, with a medium and uniform texture. On quarter sawn boards the Maple exhibits water wave, rib and birds eye figures.