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April : Century-old timber into acoustic pianos

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7 April, 2017

Century-old timber into acoustic pianos

Century-old timber into acoustic pianos

Timber planted during planting trials a century ago is now being trialled in the production of acoustic pianos, after a local piano maker ordered a load of sugar pine grown in Tumut State Forest to be tested in the construction of grand pianos. 

Forestry Corporation of NSW's Tumut-based Harvesting Controller Jason Laverty said sugar pine was one of several softwood species planted in the local area during timber trials prior to the second world war. 

"Early last century, pine plantations were only just starting out in this region so a lot of different species were planted to see which species grew best in the local conditions and produced the strong, straight timber that we need," Mr Laverty said. 

"Radiata pine plantations did really well in these trials, which is why we plant millions of radiata pine seedlings throughout the State every year, but sugar pine and other species didn't do as well, taking longer to reach maturity or not producing the sort of timber we were seeking. 

"Almost a century later, we still have a few stands of various pine species that have reached maturity but aren't quite right for traditional local markets, so we have been sending trial loads to some of our customers to test new markets." 

Contemporary piano maker Wayne Stuart, founder of Stuart & Sons Hand Crafted Grand Pianos, ordered a load of the sugar pine timber from the Bago Hardwood Mill. Mr Stuart said that the timber will dry and season over the next three to four years before being hand crafted into pianos. 

"I usually purchase timber from the United States due to the species requirements, structure, quality and economic value. However, the old growth forests of California are diminishing and alternative plantation species are now being used. Sugar Pine is the perfect alternative as it is famous for pattern making, is a light yet strong timber and has high dimensional stability and excellent glue adhesion," Mr Stuart said. 

"The climate in Tumut is ideal for piano timber processing as the below zero temperatures squeeze out any moisture in the wood aiding in the acoustic capacity of the instrument. There is a lot to be learnt from this trial and I cannot wait to start working with the hundred-year-old timber."

Source: Friday Offcuts

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