By Karryn & Dean
Also known as: Australian Blackwood, Paluma Blackwood, Black Wattle.
Acacia melanoxylon, or Blackwood, is a medium-sized Australian hardwood that grows in the eastern states of Australia, from South Australia through to the wetter areas of Tasmania. A wattle, Blackwood can reach heights of 35m but normally achieves about 10 - 20m.
The timber ranges in colour from light golden brown to deep brown and is sometimes complemented by reddish streaks or narrow bands of darker colour. Blackwood has a medium and even texture. Its grain can either be straight or have a wavy, fiddle back pattern.
The trees are short-lived, and fast-growing, and are an understorey species that grows from the coast to approx. 1000m above sea-level. Whilst they do grow on the slopes of hills, and mountain tops, they thrive in swampy lowland environments. They have a vigorous root system which suckers readily. Blackwoods regenerate quickly, from seed, after a fire. The flowers, which are present in Spring, are densely packed, with stalks containing many whitish to pale yellow balls.
Blackwood is easily worked and nails and glues well. A smooth, polished finish can be achieved, making Blackwood ideal for fine furniture and architectural hardware. The wood dust from this species can cause irritations and precautions must be taken.
Blackwood is commonly used for interior-based applications such as decorative veneers, panelling, furniture, joinery and flooring. It is not suitable for exterior applications.
In the 1920’s Launceston, Tasmania was home to the largest furniture factory in Australia. W. Coogan & Co. included a vast industrial estate covering 10 acres, producing a wide range of furniture in a variety of Tasmanian timber species including large amounts of Tasmanian Blackwood. Established in 1884, by Melbourne-born upholsterer and designer-maker William Coogan, who was 27 at the time, the company employed nearly 400 people at its height. It was one of the first Australian businesses to offer payment plans to customers. Sadly, the business, now known as Coogans, is set to close it’s doors at the end of June this year.
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