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Vastern Timber is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of English oak beams and Douglas fir beams to builders, timber framers and indeed anyone requiring large sections.

Vastern Timber pride itself on producing all beams in-house, unlike many suppliers who buy pre-cut beams from other European mills. This guarantees Vastern Timber has full control over the manufacturing process, ensuring the highest levels of quality and accuracy are maintained.

The experts at Vastern Timber have a thorough knowledge of structural timber and its uses, particularly in the construction and repair of oak framed buildings.

English oak has been used in construction for hundreds of years and is highly popular due to its wide availability, sustainability and the durability of the wood. Vastern Timber produces both green sawn and air dried oak beams, although the majority of oak used in construction is cut straight from the tree which means it is wet. Although sometimes a concern for architects, this is in fact the best way to cut timber as it is easier to manipulate. After installation the fresh sawn beams begin to dry out causing shrinkage across the section. These changes in shape and appearance are natural and do not affect the strength of beam, in fact it is this shrinkage which gives traditional timber frames their rigidity by pulling together the pegged joints.

Although the majority of wood used in construction is green, it is sometimes necessary to use dry wood. Floor joists for example may require dry wood as it is critical that shrinkage and movement of the beams is minimised. However, although it may seem that dry oak is easier and less risky when building whole structures it is likely that the beams will not be available. Dry oak is considerably more expensive.

It is also common in traditional oak framed houses to use oak in curved sections. Vastern Timber specialises in the production of specific curved oak components for traditional oak framing including shaped wind and wall bracing, through-and-through slabs for cruck blades, sling braces, queen posts and arch bracing, all of which are selected from curved oak logs. Oak curves are cut as standard and are usually supplied green (wet) although they can in some cases be supplied partially air-dried.

For a less expensive option, Douglas fir is available. Possibly the finest softwood grown in the UK – a magnificent tree when standing and a superb timber once felled. Universally recognised, Douglas fir has the highest strength rating of any softwood and is often used in the construction of taller buildings due to its excellent performance.

Vastern Timber is one of the UK’s largest British hardwood sawmills and timber merchants, specialising in cutting and manufacturing native grown timber, including British oak, sweet chestnut, ash, sycamore and larch for the construction and joinery markets.

A family business established in High Wycombe in 1904 by Leonard Barnes, the company began life under the name of Barnes Branch & Co and primarily focused on the manufacture of furniture. Specialising in the production of traditional beech furniture, the company gradually evolved into a producer of components servicing other local manufacturers. Barnes Branch & Co was particularly well known for its beech and ash ‘Windsor back bends’ which gave the Windsor chair its distinctive shape and the company was commandeered to produce wings for the legendary de Havilland Mosquito aircraft in the Second World War.

In 1974, increasing demand for timber products led to the acquisition of the Vastern Timber Sawmill in Wootton Bassett, followed by a second sawmill at Studley near Chippenham in 1982.

Today, Vastern Timber continues to trade from two sites in Wiltshire and is owned and run by three members of the Barnes family – Peter, Jon and Tom, who represent the third and fourth generations of family in the company. The sites have four log-converting bandmills, computer-controlled drying kilns, and well-equipped machining facilities enabling Vastern Timber to process both hardwoods and softwoods for a wide range of uses. These uses span the specialist production of British oak in internal joinery, creating solid hardwood flooring, skirting and architraves. Structural beams and joists in oak and Douglas fir are produced for traditional building projects, with the addition of an extensive range of external timber cladding, including larch, cedar and various hardwoods. Vastern Timber also caters for the garden with large stocks of decking and fencing.

Vastern Timber cuts and processes British logs to offer a wide range of species, grades and specifications that are not widely available from other merchants. The company has large stocks available to ensure it can offer short lead times with the security of knowing that it will not run out of stock.

Vastern Timber provides a professional yet personal service tailored to the unique needs and wishes of its clients, which include architects, builders, joiners, furniture makers and timber framers.

Vastern Timber offers FSC certified timber from well managed British Forests and offers strength grading of structural timber to BS5756 and BS4976.

Vastern Timber has also recently launched Brimstone, the first commercially available British thermally modified timber. Sourced exclusively from English and Welsh woodlands, the Brimstone range is ideal for cladding, decking, external joinery and furniture, and includes thermally modified ash, sycamore and poplar.