Northern Scandinavian pine is grown near the Arctic Circle where the extreme cold makes growth rates much slower and thus the wood has a very tight grain and higher density than faster growing varieties.
The wood is inherently stable and does not give rise to the twisting or warping often associated with the inferior woods used in log cabin manufacture these days.
We aim to use Grade 5 which is the highest selection grade available in the long lengths necessary for such building work. Grade 6, is a little lower grade but still entirely suitable and superior to some of the timbers originating from Estonia or Lithuania. There are higher grades of Northern Scandinavian pine available but these are in shorter lengths for manufacture of furniture and flooring etc. The grading indicates the tolerance of imperfections such as loose knots, shakes (small splits) and pockets of sap.
Logging takes place in well managed forests that support a programme of sustainable replanting. The forests hold PEFC certification (Pan European Forestry Commission) which is a prerequisite for FSC (Forestry Stewardship Certification). We have needed to demonstrate and prove the origin of our timber to the Royal Horticultural Society in order to be accepted as exhibitors at their prestigious shows. We source timber from several forests with different mills. We have an identification mark included in the tongue and groove feature and each supply chain has its own mark. By this method we can ensure that each cabin is made with wood from a consistent supply chain, we do not mix wood from two routes on the same cabin.
The trees used for logging are in the region of 70 years old. The logs that we use are cut from the centre of the tree. This is known as the heart wood and of course is the oldest part of the tree and therefore the densest, hardest timber available from that tree.
All of the timber we use is kiln dried to a consistent moisture content to ensure dimensional stability.
Our wood has a fast throughput. It is sourced on a ‘just in time’ basis so that it is not hanging around for long periods before it is used. Again this ensures consistency in moisture contents and hence dimensional stability.
Needless to say, high quality wood is expensive. It is also in high demand which keeps the commodity price buoyant. Some of the log cabins on the market today are so very cheap that it is just not possible that they are made in such high quality wood that we and many other suppliers would wish to use. It is a fact of life that if a price looks too good to believe then there is usually very good reason why it is so cheap, and usually it is down to the quality of the wood used.
Large quantities of log cabins are produced in timbers originating from Estonia and Lithuania. Invariably the wood will be very open grain, fast growing, young, low density and poor quality. It would be unfair to generalise but from our own experience we have never actually seen a log cabin from these areas that is made from good quality wood. Normally there are lots of knots and several are loose. There will be many splits from day one and worse still, due to the instability of the wood, the splits continue to develop leading to new splits forming. Ceiling boards are often full of sap waiting to drip onto your keyboard, furniture, car etc. And we hear time and time again that the poor straightness of logs makes for an assembly nightmare. We recall a trade show where we came across an Estonian log cabin exhibitor and we were amused that we were able to post our brochure through one of the splits in the wall log!
We have serious doubts that suppliers from these regions can verify their wood quality as we do.
It is also noticeable that these main suppliers are rapidly losing their network of dealers who are fed up with having to exhibit poor quality show models and deal with customer complaints. There is a big shift towards them selling direct to the public. Why?
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