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The basic wood I use is Victorian Mountain Ash which is a generic name for the local hardwoods. The wood is a medium density hardwood, when oiled it ends up a golden colour. There is however a lot of colour, tone and grain variation with the odd feature, such as red veins. It makes good easels that are not too heavy. It does however bruise if heavily knocked which can leave mildly discoloring marks. These are not structural. It is a good all round choice as it makes strong easels.
Jarrah from Western Australia, is in the red tones from blood red to a very dark red. It is a heavier wood than Vic Ash and tends to mark less with heavy handling.
Spotted gum is a very hard very heavy wood with extremely high impact resistance. It mostly comes from NSW. The name actually refers to the trunk of the tree. It has beautiful grain and is into the dark brown tones and the colour darkens considerably with age. The colour of the wood can have huge variations, even within one piece of wood. Easels made from Spotted Gum are strong and heavy, the wood does not float.
I also have other Red Australian Hardwoods called Forest Reds. These are red in colour, not as dark as Jarrah but with generally beautiful grains and features. They are cut but the timber mills, and they make up packs which can often be of several different red woods. Sometimes it is Karri from Western Australia, sometimes's NSW hardwoods. It depends on availability.
Recycled Oregon or Douglas Fir is generally from the West Coast of the USA. It was brought to Australia in Sailing ships over 100 years ago and used as house frames. I still have reasonable stock of this wood and I find it available from time to time. It generally has the patina of time, well ingrained into the surface along with nail holes. The nail holes are generally black due to the nails rusting. Oregon is a soft wood and is quite light compared to Vic Ash. it makes good easels as it is also reasonably strong and I tend to use heavier or thicker sections to achieve the same stability as the hardwoods.
All Knobs I make are from Recycled Victorian River Red Gum, which is a heavy very tight grained wood that does not easily split. The wood comes from fence posts which have aged many years.
I have at time made easels from River Red Gum, Red Iron Bark, Brush Box, Turpentine, Black Butt and Blackwood. For more information just do a Google Search
Which Wood Should You Choose?
If you just want an easel that will perform, is relatively easy to move around the Vic Ash is a good basic wood. It is strong and stable. Go for the other woods for appearance and superior durability when the easel is being handled a lot. For example when I hired easels I found the Vic Ash easels marked too easily but this problem was eliminated when I switched to Jarrah and Forest reds. Your easel is going to be something special. If you want it to make a statement, be something special or to match decor you should choose one of the less common woods.When I make my personal easels I generally choose Jarrah, but recently I made one for myself out of Spotted Gum.
Why not Pine?
In my early easel making days I used a lot of pine. It is cheap and if the design is right, makes a fine easel. You need to use a heavier cross section of pine to achieve the same stability as hardwoods. The problem with pine is the quality of the wood. Knots weaken the wood and straightness is a problem. Another disadvantage of pine is that it tends to shrink and swell as the moisture content in the air changes so you have to increase the tolerance of joints making them sloppier and the easel not so good. I spent too much time looking for good pine and wasted too much wood that was not good enough to make easels. I can buy hardwood knowing I have to reject very little and I do not have to worry about the structural integrity.
All knobs I make are from recycled wood. With River Red Gum naturally aged wood is better and there is a ready supply around Melbourne in the form of old fence posts. The only other wood I use in any quantity is Oregon.
Recycling hardwoods into easels is difficult. With Vic Ash the wood case hardens so that the outside is enormously hard, making it difficult to work. It quickly blunts blades and wears out sandpaper. Nails are almost impossible to get out. It takes a lot longer to recycle this wood than to use new wood. Jarrah is OK as it does not case harden , but supplies are very limited in Victoria. I do use recycled Jarrah when I can get it.
I know some people are against the use of old growth forests in furniture making. It is actually the best wood having a grain and character that plantation wood can miss out on. I buy wood where I can get it and when you see what you want you need to buy it, as it is not always available. Some hardwoods do not have a label and it is a best guess as to the type of wood. I generally look for colour and grain. We now have the crazy situation where imported Asian Hardwoods can be actually cheaper than our local woods and the local woods not available in suitable sizes. There will be a time when I will not be able to get the wood I want and will have to use imported hardwood.
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Jeff Lacey at Easels Galore: 0425734215 email:email@example.com
You can pay by credit card, which is best done over the phone for security reasons. If you nominate a time and tell me your phone number I will ring you for the details. Or you can ring me on (03) 97879465 There is a 1% charge for credit card payment.
can send a cheque or money order payable to Easels Galore - 42 Mather
Rd Mt Eliza Vic. 3930
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A Frame Easels
A Frame Easels With Adjustable Tilt
A Frame Double Sided Easels
Fully Folding Easels
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Folding Horizontal to Vertical Easels
Horizontal to Vertical Studio Easels
H Frame Easel
H Frame Easel with Centre Slide
H Frame Easel Counterweighted
Owners Statement and Build standard
Single Post Semi Folding Easels
Single Post Fixed Leg Easels
Wrought Iron Easels
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