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SMARTPLY OSB Marks the Diamond Jubilee

  • 10.10.2012

A project to mark the Diamond Jubilee has made full use of the strength and environmental characteristics of Coillte Panel Products' SMAPTPLY OSB. The Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project celebrates the finding of the 13.4 metre, 5,000 year-old sub-fossilised trunk of an ancient giant oak, which is now being used to create a unique 44ft long table as a gift to the nation.

SMAPTPLY OSB, which offers a renewable and less expensive option to tropical plywood, has been utilised in the construction of a 15 metre specialist kiln to dry the planks of oak. Funded by Coillte Panel Products, the kiln will be overseen and constructed by the fine woodworking students of the Building Crafts College in Stratford, East London and Hamish Low, a cabinet maker, who has dedicated his life to working with Fenland black oak.

SMAPTPLY OSB offers an environmentally sustainable timber-based solution for structural and non-structural building applications. It has been used in the construction of the kiln due to its ease of application. Manufactured from sustainable, fast-growing timber, SMAPTPLY OSB, with its environmentally friendly characteristics, coincides with the sustainable thinking and legacy ethos of the Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project.

7,000 years ago, the East Anglia fenlands, originally a dense forest full of oak trees several times the size of the trees we are familiar with today, was flooded by a rise in sea level. Consequently, many of the giant oak trees, which were buried in a deep pit for thousands of years, were excellently preserved due to the anaerobic conditions from a reaction occurring between the tannins in the oak and soluble irons present in the mineral subsoil.

The rare Fenland Black Oak, which emerges from the fields once or twice a year, is the only native black timber available and has only ever been used for small turnings and inlay details in furniture in the past.

Earlier this year, an excellently preserved 44ft long ancient oak emerged from the Norfolk Fens. The trunk, which is sound along its entire length, is the biggest piece to emerge and excels in quality. The Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project, which was founded to create a breathtaking 13 metre table for public display out of the unique specimen, will mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and celebrate the Fenland Black Oak by preserving it for future generations to see.

The waterlogged oak, which is extremely fragile once it has been excavated and can deteriorate very quickly, is required to undergo a lengthy finishing process in order to preserve the wood and then utilise it. Drying is carried out in the bespoke kiln over six months.

Hamish Low of Adamson and Low and part of the Diamond Jubilee Fenland Black Oak Project team, commented: "Using SMAPTPLY OSB to construct the bespoke kiln has enabled us to preserve this precious wood for generations to come." SMAPTPLY OSB offered an environmentally sustainable timber-based solution, and with its strength and versatility, the fine woodworking students of the Building Crafts College can work with the material with ease.

The 10 freshly saw milled planks will be housed in the SMAPTPLY OSB kiln for six months until they are finally ready to be worked with.

George Watson, SMAPTPLY Sales Manager from Coillte Panel Products, commented: "We are extremely honoured to take part in this unique, non-profit project. SMAPTPLY OSB, which uses far less energy and resources to make than steel, concrete and other building materials, and which is carefully harvested to preserve the forest's biodiversity, productivity and ecological processes, offered the project a sustainable and environmentally friendly material to work with, fitting for the celebration of this precious oak."

The table, which is expected to be complete by next summer, will be open to the public once decisions have been made about where to house it.