1. The demolition site
It is easy to get overly excited at demolition sites. One time we were buying timber from the old Powerhouse building in Canberra and ended up also buying a 40 year old relic of an industrial air compressor. It is still sitting unused in the back of the shed. It was a case of demolition fever.
Timbers need to be assessed carefully. Demolition fever is not ok! For example:
- Moisture under the building can cause nails to rust making them impossible to get out.
- Larger sections can split internally as they season.
- Floor boards can be ruined by polyurethane finishes.
Then the negotiations begin with the demolition company and hopefully we can sort out a deal and the semi trailer is loaded with 24 tons of good timber.
2. De-nailing, metal detecting & grading
The timbers come back to our yard at the old Brickworks in Canberra. We have built a de-nailing line for processing the timbers. Conveyors and rollers are used to minimise manual handling and sort waste. It’s a bit of a crazy contraption. You know that game mousetrap?
We have invented or improved tools to remove nails from timber. Then the timber is metal detected twice before it is passed as clean. If we miss a nail a saw blade can be ruined. Not good.
Recycled Australian hardwoods are dense, dry and hard. There is usually significant amounts of dirt in the outside grain. Heavy duty machinery is needed to plane the old timbers. We have heavy duty machinery!
Old timbers have surface checking, old nail holes and cracks which need to be filled to make the timber durable and easy to clean when made into furniture. We use a clear, long lasting epoxy resin glue for our filling. It takes on the colour of the timber which surrounds it, and holds very strongly to the timber. The Super Sap Resin we use is produced using bio-carbon from the waste stream of other industrial processes.
5. Making - Joinery
We believe in building to last so we always use mechanical joining techniques. We do not just rely on glues. Timbers to be laminated into table tops are edge profiled to fit together. Table legs and rails are mortise and tenoned. Our joiners have skills which are becoming rarer in these days of MDF and plastic laminates. Our senior tradesmen have both taught in Furniture at the ANU.
6. Finishing with natural oils
Thor’s Hammer uses the Osmo finishes from Germany for all our furniture. These are high quality finishes made from natural oils and waxes. The timber can breath and move. The surface can easily be maintained with a simple wax spray, and re-coated if necessary without needing to sand back to bare timber. The oils used in the Osmo finishes do not change the colour of the timber, they just bring out the colours which are already there. And for us the best thing is these finishes are non toxic, approved food safe and safe for children’s toys. They apply best with a roller. No spraying, no pollution in the air, no spray booth required.
7. Table… Or
This was one journey a piece of demolition timber can go on when it comes into our yard. There are lots of others:
- Old posts are wire brushed to clean off the dirt but leave the character and patina.
- Wharf piers are sawn into big square posts, or into smaller blanks, kiln dried and run into flooring.
- The dirt is cleaned out of the tongue and groove of old floor boards, and they are tallied and packed ready to be laid in a new home.
- Roof timbers are selected for density and durability, and the timber is run into decking and cladding.