Supplier Spotlight: Interesting Timbers
by Olga Alexandru
Supplier Spotlight: Interesting Timbers
Who are you and what do you do?
I am David Simmonds, I own and run Interesting Timbers with my wife Catherine, it’s a family owned and operated authentic English Hardwood Sawmill and Timber Merchants. I manage the sawmill, purchasing trees from woodlands locally and across the UK, milling and drying them. The timber is then sold as Straight Edged and Waney Edged Sawn Boards to furniture makers, designers, hobbyists, artists, architects, builders, self-builders, DIY home improvers, professional and amateur woodworkers, carvers and turners. This is our primary business and in addition we are also Oak Framed Building Specialists. I am a qualified engineer and design and manage the manufacture of our Bespoke Oak Framed Buildings (a large proportion of which are Oak Framed Roofs) for builders and self- builders to install on site. I also specialise in assisting clients with unusual timber based projects.
What is the best part of the job for you?
I have always been passionate about trees and anything to do with wood in general, no two pieces of timber are the same and every client’s project or commission is different and unique, helping people to make their ideas into a reality adds interest to my working day so I think that never having a boring day is the best part of my job.
How long has the company been around for?
2016 is our 30th anniversary, Interesting Timbers had its beginnings in the great storm of 1986; the country was strewn with fallen trees many of which had lived for generations it seemed sad to let these trees be lost to the fireplaces of England so the idea of milling and drying them and eventually turning them into something beautiful and practical, crafted pieces which could be passed down from generation to generation began. Catherine’s family was involved in sawmilling as far back as 1884 so the business evolved naturally.
What is your favourite product and why?
I enjoy the aesthetic and physical qualities of all English timber so I can’t really pick a favourite, I love the sense of excitement and anticipation when I look at a log in the round and begin to contemplate the best way to cut and plank it. When the first cut has been made and the log is ‘opened up’ it reveals a unique grain pattern and colour that has never been seen before and there will never be another that is exactly like it! My favourite is very often the log we have just cut, until the next one arrives.
What does your company specialise in?
We supply quality Native Hardwoods and Soft Woods. For thirty years we have specialised in sawmilling and selling individual Interesting Timbers, we continue to process local home grown trees to produce air dried and kiln dried English Hardwood Timbers. We are happy to assist clients with their bespoke and individual timber needs by supplying their British Timber requirements in small or large quantities as Waney or Square Edged timber.
I am also a qualified Engineer and in addition to our primary business I undertake all the design work and produce all the drawings for the Oak Framed buildings that our skilled carpenters produce at Interesting Timbers. What started as a side interest has become a big part of our business; to date we have crafted over 168 Oak Timbers Frames to my designs for clients in addition to our primary business as Saw Millers and Timber Merchants.
What’s special about your company?
Apart from our timber, which is all special, I think our relationship with our clients is very special, in this age of call centres and automated telephone answering we strive to build personal relationships with everyone who calls or visits us, ensuring that we have understood their needs and wishes and met them to the best of our ability. We are always happy to give advice if asked and where we are able to do so. Our clients generally enjoy coming to see us and this sets their project off to a good start.
What does sustainability mean to you?
At its heart, timber is a sustainable material and for us, sustainability starts with respect for living trees. When a tree is no longer able to continue in the natural environment we ensure that trees that have lived often for several hundred years can go on to have a new life and be incorporated into pieces which will last for generations to come. We have always been keen to prevent the decline in British Woodlands by promoting the use of locally grown timber as a sustainable resource and this is why we have resisted the trend to source our timber across Europe and the World. Interesting Timbers is an authentic, traditional sawmill, we have continued to buy trees locally, often being involved from before a tree is felled, through to loading on the timber lorry, sawing it into boards and eventually drying it and preparing it for use by furniture makers, craftsmen and women, designers, artists, home improvers, builders and architects. There is often a story to go with special trees and we try to pass these details on to the end user of the timber matching individual pieces of timber to clients.
What would be your #MeatFreeMonday recipe?
Local Cheddar Cheese on Sourdough toast with a dash of Worcestershire Sauce, the simple pleasures in life!
What are the trends coming up in your field?
As technology is moving into every aspect of our daily lives I feel that people will begin to discover or re-discover the pleasure of making and creating something with their own hands in wood, leading to a resurgence of amateur woodturning and woodworking. The tactile quality of wood and the physical and emotional benefit along with the personal satisfaction that is gained from working with timber is priceless.