Material Selection

This page steps you through what timber to select as the material for your design

The material we use at the machine workshop is predominantly timber so the following information will be specifically directed for the properties and use of timber in making.

Timber is an organic material with a wide variety of physical features such as colour, odour, moisture content, grain figure, shrinkage, swelling, and strength which are all important characteristics which determine the properties of timber.

All of this information about the properties and characteristics of timber can be read here:

Due to the vast variation of physical attributes of each timber species and the specific requirements of your project, this section will illustrate how these properties ultimately influence your species selection based on functional and structural requirements, sustainability of the material and the desired aesthetics.

Functional and Structural Requirements

To determine what timber species would best suit your project, read through the Timber Species section attached below, which have great illustrations of each species, their qualities, potential manipulations and best used functions.

pageTimber Species

Some of these examples are:

  • Hardwoods is best used for pieces where shocks, abrasions, and other stresses will occur.

  • White Oak or Ash can be steam-bent without fracturing so are optimal for bent details.

  • The legs of a chair are subject to extreme stresses and abrasive forces therefore select a species that is hard, resists impression, and does not splinter, such as American Maple.

  • When your design requires stretches/braces to help support the structure, bending strength may be important to allow for movement, here you may consider White Oak or Tasmanian Blackwood.

  • For chair backs, hardwoods such as Maple, Oak, Blackwood or Ash for spindles are great as they are resilient and also allow for movement.

  • For chair seats, many woods will suffice, but soft woods such as pine or poplar are much easier to sculpt if you are intending to use hand tools.

  • Outdoor furniture needs to be durable and weather resistant so a timber like cyprus is optimal.

  • Jarrah is also great for outdoors are as well as it is resistant to insect infestations.

The above are guidelines and suggestions. Most timber species can be used for most projects so long as you know the properties of the timber, specifically the weaknesses, so you can design around them and use the timber in the appropriate way.

Material Sustainability

Sustainable Building Material

Wood that is responsibly sourced is is a sustainable building material as trees that are harvested for their wood can be replenished by new growth. What's more, the carbon footprint that results from the production and processing of wood products is drastically lower than that for other building materials. With up to 50% of the dry weight of wood being carbon, it also has the capacity to store carbon, something that’s crucial in the fight against climate change.

Embodied carbon emissions in the construction sector account for over 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, significantly more than the emissions produced by energy production or transport.

Supporting Local

Another way wood is a sustainable option is that it gives you the opportunity to 'buy local' from specialised suppliers in your community. This gives you the chance to support the local timber industry, lower transportation emissions, and support the local economy.

Recycled material

Another option when considering what material is best to use is by using recycled wood. This also extends the life of the wood so there is no need to use newly sourced wood. In addition, the carbon contained in this recycled wood is stored for the life of the new installation.

Product life and reducing waste

Wood is also a long-lasting and robust material and is the perfect choice for anyone looking for longevity from their furniture. Whether you opt for hardwood or softwood, there is an innate stability and reliability to a well-made wooden chair or desk. This durability ensures that well made wooden furniture offers a long product life helping curb current short life-cycle trends resulting in more waste, influenced by brands like IKEA and Target.


The vast range of colours and tones of wood means that plenty of variety is available for style and look. And this is not to mention the subtle but noticeable differences between the grains and textures of different species and cuts.

Again, look at the timber species section for images of what each species look like to get a an idea of what each timber colouring is. We also suggest you come into the workshop to look and touch the samples we have on display in person as colour is not always portrayed true online.

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