Tasmanian Furniture Maker and Timber Miller Receives Australia’s First Patent for Their Highly Desired and Eco-friendly Thick Cut Veneers
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For Craig and Jack Howard, every day in their Geilston Bay workshop is different. From milling some of Tasmania’s most renowned species including Huon Pine and Blackheart Sassafras to creating bespoke furniture for clients around the world, each day unfolds a different species, project and crafting method. And in August, they received some highly anticipated news that is a game changer for Craig Howard & Son and an Australian first in the industry; receiving a patent for their very own thick cut veneers.
A project in the works for years, Craig Howard & Son have been granted a patent for their thick cut veneers, being the only providers in Australia of a thick cut veneer between 1.5 – 6mm. The average thickness of a normal veneer is 0.6mm but Craig Howard & Son have become experts at cutting a much thicker veneer. The veneer can be applied to a variety of substrates to create a wide range of uses for the veneer, including kitchen benchtops, flooring, wall paneling and of course, custom furniture handcrafted by Craig and Jack.
A (thick) Cut Above the Rest
The exterior of their thick veneer has the look of solid timber and the story that lies beneath is one of strength and longevity. A thick veneer means the end product is highly durable, ensuring a long-lasting product that if damaged at the surface, can easily be sanded away for the timber to be restored to its original state. And because of the added thickness, the veneer can be oiled, making it capable for a variety of eco-friendly natural products to be applied to protect the wood even further.
Creating a veneer with longevity and allowing use for natural coatings to further protect it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a sustainable timber product. The innovative style in which the thick veneers are milled are also making Craig and Jack leaders in the industry, receiving up to 700% recovery compared to using a solid piece of timber.
“If you had a 200mm wide board by 38mm for a tabletop, you would need 6 joined together to make a table top. We can use one of those and cut it into 6 pieces and make the whole tabletop,” explains Craig Howard.
Sourcing their timber through the Tasmanian Fine Timbers chain of custody, Craig Howard & Son respect the need to sustainably harvest, wanting their industry to live on for generations. This next generation includes Craig’s son Jack, who is now a part of the family business. Managing the process from end to end, Craig and Jack hand select the logs to be shipped to their yard where the timber is band-milled and all special species timber is air and kiln dried.
Age-old Crafting Meets State-of-the-art Technology
Having been in the industry for over 4 decades, Craig Howard uses a combination of traditional crafting methods including hand dovetailing and carving but also welcomes the use of ultra-modern machinery. Having the only machine of its kind in Tasmania brought in from Italy, Craig and Jack utilize custom machinery with a belt system that’s designed for precision accuracy with custom specifications to be able to create paneling and pivot doors. With solid timber running through his veins, Craig Howard was at first reluctant to use veneers.
“I didn’t like using 0.6ml veneer, and I didn’t like the MDF substrate, instead of using solid all the time – I’m born and bred a solid timber user, but about 7 or 8 years ago we started to develop this new product and when I discovered we were really on to something, we kept experimenting to perfect the process,” explains Craig Howard.
Being Australia’s leader for thick cut veneers has resulted in international attention, having requests and orders from around the world for custom thick veneers and furnishings.
“I don’t think thick veneer has been available anywhere else in the world at a commercial scale. We’re thrilled to finally have the patent as it’s been years in the making. We can’t wait to see where the business goes and look forward to continue to make custom furnishings treasured by families for generations to come.”