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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    melbourne
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    Default Coconut timber. anybody worked with it, know any suppliers?

    Hi. During a trip to Fiji, I saw some beautiful hard carved pieces using timber from coconut trees. I love the look of the grain structure and want to use it for some furniture (tables etc). I was told that its just like most hardwoods and easy to obtain (for a Fijian maybe). Back in Melbourne I cant find any retailers that stock it. I have found a wholesaler, but cant really afford a container full. Has anybody worked with coconut timber? Does anybody know of anywhere in Victoria, even anywhere in Australia where I can get it? Thanks, Simon Kowalinski

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Arundel Qld 4214
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    Default Coconut timber

    My only knowledge of it was when I was living in Seychelles. They used it to construct a walk way over mangroves. It was not a success as it rotted much sooner than expected and was regarded as a failure for that purpose.

    Whitewood

  4. #3
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    Apr 2005
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    Nerang Queensland
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    62
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    10,621

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    Only the outer layer of old growth coconut trees is of any use as lumber. Beautiful timber and can be very hard and strong with the grain used with the correct orientation and thick enough sections. Not sure where you can get it commercially in Aus.
    Neil
    ____________________________________________
    Every day presents an opportunity to learn something new

  5. #4
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    Nov 2007
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    Dundowran Beach
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    Thumbs up

    Very suitable for furniture making.

    SWMBO worked for a crowd that sold furniture made from plantation grown coconut.

    A mate of mine has a Bali hut with the corner posts being coconut. He gave me a couple
    of offcuts. I must dig them out. My memory is that they are pretty even in texture across
    the diametre of the trunk.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Sydney,Australia
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    3,154

    Default

    10-15 year ago Hardly Normal was flogging great swathes of the lounge suites made from coconut logs, then suddenly it disappeared. I'd guess they got a bulk deal from someone, then when they demanded a bigger margin he told them to get lost (or he gave them the margin & went bust). It looked to have been heavily processed, possibly impregnated with some sort of resin then machined down severely. It was all post-and-rail construction held together with bed bolts & the seats looked to be on slings or straps.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    melbourne
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    From what ive read, coconut timber needs to be treated soon after milling so it doesn't rot. Once done properly it is a very good timber. Ive gotten an couple of emails from a wholesaler asking what sizes I would want, but considering I'd only want a few cubic metres of boards, I doubt i'll be successful with such small amounts. I have a feeling it'll be quite expensive since its unfortunately not popular.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Busselton, WA
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    708

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    Everywhere in Australia now there is someone with a furniture store full of Bali imported stuff. Get them to get some imported for you but at the same time, good luck with customs.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Brisbane
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    Default

    To understand the value of palms as timber it is important to understand their structure. It is quite different to that of most timber trees.
    A botany lesson then...

    Palms are what are called monocotyledenous plants, as distinct from most of the timber that we use, which is from dicotyledenous plants or coniferous plants. Monocots grow quite differently.

    Wood is made of vascular tissue, meaning tissue that transports water or food through the plant Xylem is vascular tissue used to take water and nutrients from the roots to the aerial growing tips and leaves. Phloem is the tissue that takes the food made in the leaves and green parts of the tree and transports it where it is needed to give the tissues energy to grow and say alive. Dicots have old wood, (which is no-longer-functional xylem) in the centre and sapwood (living xylem and living phloem) on the outside. These are in the tree rings that we know and recognise. The vascular tissues are relatively short-lived as they only function as vascular tissue for a few years at most. After that they are dead and store waste materials and only serve for structural strength. New layers are formed on the outside of the tree each year that it lives.

    The monocots instead have strands of vascular bundles scattered through a spongy matrix. Each bundle contains both xylem and phloem. The palms do not have growth rings. The vascular tissue is very long lived, palms can live for over 100 years, using only the vascular tissue that they grew in their first years. That is why most palms do not get wider as they grow taller, unlike something like a gum tree. It is also why they grow wide fast, before they grow up. Yes, I know some palms do swell at the base but that is for a different reason.

    In many palms the spongy matrix, called parenchyma, is very soft. So, when the palm dies the spongy tissue breaks down fast and rots to slush. No strength there at all. Coconuts when young are like that so, unless the parenchyma is impregnated with resin or similar it falls apart. Some palms, like Phoenix, or date palms, natually secrete waste products into their parenchyma so that it becomes durable. Old coconut palms can develop a naturally impregnated layer but never as long-lasting as most hardwods. Yes, the palms that swell do so because of the tissues filling up with waste material and swelling. They develop cracks in their outer layer as it canot grow to accommodate the increased girth.

    Here ends the lesson. I hope that it helps forum members understand palm wood better.

    P.S. there are monocots that do have their own form of secondary thickening - Xanthorrhoeas, once known as blackboys, amongst them. Pps, I'm not black, though some may say that I have my own form of secondary thickening like my namesake!

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Brisbane
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    677

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    Here ends the lesson. I hope that it helps forum members understand palm wood better.

    P.S. there are monocots that do have their own form of secondary thickening - Xanthorrhoeas, once known as blackboys, amongst them. Pps, I'm not black, though some may say that I have my own form of secondary thickening like my namesake!
    ...very informative thank you Mr err umm Xander ahhh Mr Grass Tree


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