france trip 1

Ooh, la la!

Recent trip to France

Joe, Steve and Jim recently took a trip to France to meet with some of our fabulous green oak suppliers and to learn more about how the orders make their way from their forest to our yard.

“It was fascinating – and reassuring - to see how much care and expertise goes into the selection, processing and transportation of each raw beam” said Steve, Head of Procurement and Sustainability at Border Oak. “We were particularly impressed to learn how the mills make use of every cubic inch of timber – scanning the trunks and setting sophisticated computer programming to establish how best to create our beams from the core, plus flooring, fencing and furniture grade pieces around the central beam”.

“It is impressive to see so little waste and to know that all parts of the tree are being utilised - especially as all Border Oak timber needs to be FSC® and PEFC accredited and is felled to order, so is too valuable to waste. This echoes our own desire to minimise and manage waste wherever we can.” said Jim.

Some of our partner mills are very traditional, with small and local teams hand processing oak to our high specification. Steve especially enjoyed meeting a new mill owner and his predecessor - who Steve had worked with for more than 25 years. They reflected on how long term relationships had been a positive impact upon both businesses and the ecological stability of the oak farms. It was exciting to see that the new owner was committed to carrying on our special working relationship and shared our love of oak.

Our larger mill partners employ a greater level of technology – it is so high tech that the selection supervisor can only observe the complex computer modelling for 1.5 hour stints as it is mentally draining checking each piece of oak so thoroughly! We were given an ‘end to end’ tour following a single trunk through the very detailed process from our order (which outlines each required piece of oak from a bespoke drawing and cutting list sent directly to our merchants) to point of collection. That piece of oak is now running through our workshops – being converted into a home.

Both the traditional and larger yards are able meet our very high specification requirements, which they all explained was much higher than other green oak customers they supply, but something they appreciate is important to us and are happy to work to.

Border Oak believe it is really important to order each house individually from the best mills (rather than holding large quantities of generic standard stock to run through a machine as others might), because the high grade of oak and its condition and sustainability is fundamental to all that we do and all that we promise to our clients.

The mills were impressed that we have qualified timber graders at Border Oak HQ and that all of our frames are made by hand.

Joe, Jim and Steve all agreed that it was an incredible visit. ‘It was brilliant to meet our suppliers and learn more about their process and businesses, and also to experience how professional and exacting our partners are” said Joe. “The guys in France were thrilled with the brochures we gave them showing them exactly what we make with their oak and why our very high specification is important to us, our carpenters, and ultimately our clients”.

France trip 2