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Thread: Hydro timber

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    Default Hydro timber

    Reading up on hydro-timbers - submerged timbers - sometimes entire forests. It's an environmentally friendly practice, but it takes a lot of effort and resources to excavate, and with prices to match. My question is is there anything good about them? I want to do my bit for the earth, but I'm doing that by using recycled building materials. Is there anything about hydro-timbers that make them desirable?

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    Likewise I have been intrigued by the recovery of submerged timbers flooded during dam construction, huon pine etc, and buried timbers such as the NZ Ancient Kauri.

    I think the appeal is the scarcity of the resource, very limited availability and the environmental restrictions on harvesting / logging of those woods in standing old growth forests. They also require considerable skill in their drying schedules to minimize degrade, so priced accordingly.

    Attempts to recover exposed timbers from Tinaroo Dam in FNQ when it reached record low levels were thwarted on a couple of matters, heritage, historical and environmental. Apparently the remains of submerged fencing were heritage listed in some instances.
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    Underwater Wood - Solid as a rock. Warm as a tree

    According to this, they are harder. I wonder if there's any truth to this

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoboseyo View Post
    Reading up on hydro-timbers - submerged timbers - sometimes entire forests. It's an environmentally friendly practice, but it takes a lot of effort and resources to excavate, and with prices to match. My question is is there anything good about them? I want to do my bit for the earth, but I'm doing that by using recycled building materials. Is there anything about hydro-timbers that make them desirable?



    Not that I have seen, or heard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoboseyo View Post
    Reading up on hydro-timbers - submerged timbers - sometimes entire forests. It's an environmentally friendly practice, but it takes a lot of effort and resources to excavate, and with prices to match.

    My question is is there anything good about them? I want to do my bit for the earth, but I'm doing that by using recycled building materials.
    Is there anything about hydro-timbers that make them desirable?
    In my view the answer is yes/no (as the young today say) : Yes, their desirability can be from their history, mystery and age (ie the story that can be told / spun (truthfully) about them eg if they are carbon-dated etc).

    But the wood qualities or appearance of many is often unexceptional. Eg NZ ancient Kauri is slightly darker but is more available than contemporary kauri (mostly protected now). So, rare or now protected, trees recovered this way will also make them desirable.

    With other woods like some ancient eucalypts (like red gum, bangaly) and others like bog oak (Quercus sp from UK and Europe), their COLOUR darkens and becomes almost black. Because of their age & this colour impact they become curiosities and desirable if and when available. These come from peat bogs and wet gravels (ie mineral rich environments), wheras trees from lakes (post flooding) may be quite different and less appealing.

    Drowning in water alone (eg Lakes) may not confer benefits or changes but it sure slows down drying.

    Euge

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    One of the people I follow on instagram is this guy R E D U X W O O D (@reduxwood) • Instagram photos and videos
    If you check out his posts , it’s hard to imagine that he’s not doing ok financially from this resource.

    I follow quite a few timber related people on instagram, there are some clever marketers that have created a strong desire for their produce/wares.
    ​Brad.

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    I have quite a few species collected over the years, but as others have said, from a rarity perspective. I also dry quite a few timbers in water containers in the hot months in an attempt to avoid cracking.

    If you want your timbers to ebonise use metal drums and don't change the water, it goes acidic and starts the ebonising reaction similar to vinegar and steel wool. I had some beautiful 3-4" bright orange Cockspur and highly figured Chinese Elm go almost completely black (in 8 months) by mistake
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    The hydrowood from tasmania I've seen looks good. Its generally old growth as far as I know and a bit darker/harder. Its also crown cut compared to most tassie oak I see which is quarter sawn. They also do Huon, blackwood, celery top pine. Their website also list sassafras and myrtle

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    When I was a young fella, I used to work for an old boat builder in the school holidays. His boat shed was built over the water on piers. Hanging from the floor joists were pieces of timber "wet seasoning" as he called it.

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    Have noticed with redgum house stumps - I utilise a few if those -sometimes the underground sections go almost black for 10-15mm depth. Makes it hard to mix with other redgum but always put it aside -waiting for enough for boxes etc.
    Presume that this is minerals etc. in the soil as it is not constant.

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    Mostly from what I've heard of the practice is it's all about scarcity ie. Huon etc.

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    Good Morning Yoboseyo

    I have used a reasonable quantity of hydro wood - celery top pine and sassafras (a hardwood) - and my view now is that it has excellent "feel good" properties and not much else.

    The timber I sourced had been underwater for 50 years in a cold, clean lake in western Tasmania. I am simplifying a bit, but timber essentially consists of fibrous tubular cells cemented together by lignin. With prolonged immersion at least two things happen:
    • some of the lignin leaches out of the timber, and
    • some lake water containing trace oxygen soaks into the cell cavities.


    The loss of lignin significantly affects the flexibility of the timber and hence its strength - perhaps a 20% downgrade but promoters are discouraging testing of the timber! It will not steam bend and for lamination bending the laminations must be cut thinner than normal. When planing the timber is more prone to tear out, probably reflecting the lignin leaching, but it seems no harder, perhaps very marginally softer than old growth timber. Again, none has been formally tested.

    Freshly saw and smell a piece; it has a mildly mouldy or rancid smell. I suspect that there is some micro-bacterial acivity within the cell structure. If you smoooth a piece of hydro wood and then run a card scraper over it, then you will get a very smooth surface but the surface gleam will not be as intense as card scraping a comparable piece of old growth timber. I suspect that this is caused by micro dry rot between the cells.

    On the other hand, all hydro wood is old growth wich is usually aesthetically better that regrowth and both are infinitely better than plantation timbers. For high value added trinkets such as tourist artifacts then it is ideally suited, and that "feel good" factor and the "story of its history" are great marketing tools.

    But I would not use hydro wood for complex engineering such as a chair.



    Fair Winds

    Graeme

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    Good Morning Mobyturns

    What do you want a picture of ?

    Hydro wood looks like any other timber and the scraper sheen is so subtle it probably won't show up on my camera. The real variance is in flexibility and strength.


    Cheers

    Graeme

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    Oops! Dyslexic fingers. Should have been a like.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeCook View Post
    On the other hand, all hydro wood is old growth wich is usually aesthetically better that regrowth and both are infinitely better than plantation timbers. For high value added trinkets such as tourist artifacts then it is ideally suited, and that "feel good" factor and the "story of its history" are great marketing tools.

    But I would not use hydro wood for complex engineering such as a chair.
    Nicely said.
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