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By MikeG.
#1255375
samhay wrote:This has certainly divided opinion.
Some time ago I decided not to use or go out of my way to buy stuff containing new tropical hardwood. I don't know enough about most of the supply chain to be able to judge whether the certification exists and/or is not forged. I'm happy to let others make their own call.

I will happy reclaim such timber from existing furniture, etc and wouldn't feel too upset about using up existing stocks of ones personal supply - the tree's already been cut down, and if you aren't buying any more then where's the additional harm.

Also, there is plenty of alternatives. Who needs rosewood, mahogany, etc when there is walnut and maple and oak and the fruitwoods and etc, etc.


That's my position too, to a tee.
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By custard
#1255382
samhay wrote:This has certainly divided opinion.
Some time ago I decided not to use or go out of my way to buy stuff containing new tropical hardwood. I don't know enough about most of the supply chain to be able to judge whether the certification exists and/or is not forged. I'm happy to let others make their own call.

I will happy reclaim such timber from existing furniture, etc and wouldn't feel too upset about using up existing stocks of ones personal supply - the tree's already been cut down, and if you aren't buying any more then where's the additional harm.

Also, there is plenty of alternatives. Who needs rosewood, mahogany, etc when there is walnut and maple and oak and the fruitwoods and etc, etc.


That's a pretty balanced verdict, I could go with most of that. I do think there are some very special qualities to be found amongst some of the tropical species that you simply can't get from temperate zone trees, however let's be realistic, you can get 80 or 90% of the benefit from temperate timbers, and that's almost certainly good enough.

However, for most professional furniture makers this decision is being fast taken out of their hands. It started a few years ago when the rules for Guild Mark entry were changed to exclude all CITES listed timbers. Because the CITES list is constantly growing most makers decided to get ahead of the curve and stopped using any tropical timber for Guild Mark furniture. Given that a Guild Mark has a huge influence on the very top end of British furniture making, this in itself represented a tidal wave of change. Overnight much of the most significant and influential furniture being made in this country went from exotics like Macassar Ebony to renewables like Douglas Fir!

The second big force for change came from corporate clients. For any small scale, independent maker these are the plum jobs that can keep you solvent for a year or more, when a decent size company contacts you wanting a prestige commission you drop everything else! Increasingly these clients will brief saying sustainable materials only, and they expect to see the full FSC documentation to support that position.

Finally you have private clients. By and large they're a lot less further along the curve, but there's no doubt that's changing and they're becoming both increasingly reluctant to commission in tropical timbers and increasingly receptive towards a sustainability message.

This has all had some significant implications for me. About a year ago I finally bit the bullet and sold several cubic metres of exquisite Rosewoods to a German luthier supplier. I'd spent decades building up these stocks, indeed much of it was inherited from my family who were timber importers and merchants. I kept some back though, enough for a couple of decent sized projects. Increasingly I'm doubting I'll ever actually use it!

Another twist to this is that a few years ago I made a couple of fine pieces of furniture for my daughters. I made each of them a small desk and chair, a contemporary bonheur du jour. However, they were both made in exotics which are now CITES prescribed. I had intended that these would be heirloom pieces that they'd cherish and in turn leave to their children. I wonder though if instead I've made a burden for them, and if in the future these will be like owning something incorporating say fur or ivory, an embarrassment they'd rather be rid of but don't feel they can just throw them out?

One final point. We generally assume CITES only means tropical timbers, however in the future that may not be the case. I'm currently hearing that European Walnut is being actively considered for CITES, and looking forward several other European timbers like Olive may also be labelled as endangered. If that happens then there might be some makers who decide to restrict themselves to just using softwoods for fine furniture!
By johnnyb
#1255403
Fascinating stuff. I'm against using it because it represents everything I'm agin. Fancy furniture using pricey woods as a a corporate statement. Why not just get a tattoo on your head saying t@#t. I think people are underestimating our local woods and overestimating imports. Accoya is a great example of creative use of local wood to skirt tropical without looking benefits. Far East ply is an example of a wasteful poor product that should be stopped.
By Chris152
#1255409
I used Madagascan rosewood and wenge recently in arty works, both offcuts given me by a friend who makes classical guitars. My feeling is if you have the wood, use it for something very special, absolutely don't waste it. In the future, it'll be something to point to and learn from. And don't buy any more from now.
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By Lons
#1255487
Deadeye wrote:Call me naive, but I would absolutely strive not to use anything threatened or endangered.
Got to look my kids in the eye - and we've already screwed the planet enough without doing this as well.

I'd agree with that 100% when it comes to any recent timber which I wouldn't buy but surely not for wood like mine that I've had saved for 30 or 40 years! Once it's used then no issues.

What would we do, have some huge bonfires and release loads of carbon into the atmosphere?