Brent Glaze, an outdoor living consultant at Sunnyland, recently went to Virginia to attend Gloster University. This is a series of educational trips and programs that Gloster hosts each year to tour its manufacturing facility and learn about their teak plantations in Indonesia. Below is his report.
Gloster furniture has its timber come from a sustainable plantation in Indonesia where teak is harvested and then replenished to keep the forest in constant growth. Although not indigenous to Indonesia, its climatic conditions are ideal for growing teak, which was originally introduced to the islands by Buddhist monks around 700 years ago. When the Dutch colonized Indonesia in the 19th Century, they established large teak plantations and introduced the sustainable plantation management system that are still in place today.
Plantation teak is inherently more environmentally friendly than the natural forest timber. In the Indonesia plantations however, no teak trees existed until the plantations were established and, due to their careful management, trees are constantly being planted at a rate equal to or exceeding those being felled. Most importantly, the plantations in Indonesia are actively managed to be a sustainable which not only has low impact on the environment, but is also fully integrated into the Indonesian social system and maximizes local employment. In 1961 Perhutani, a single national company, was established to take responsibility for the management of all Indonesian plantation teak. Indonesia law requires that the plantations be run in a sustainable manner, with a management strategy that is socially, economically and ecologically efficient. Over the lifetime the trees are regularly pruned and the integrity of the plantations carefully maintained which ultimately results in a better quality of timber-(heavier wood, straighter grained and with less knots.
Outdoor furniture has to endure far harsher conditions than indoor furniture. From sub-zero temperatures in winter to sweltering heat and humidity in summer, outdoor furniture needs to be able to endure everything mother nature throws at it. Teak is the best suited timber to cope with these changes in weather conditions and, thanks to the natural oil content, has an in-built protection against rotting, even in the wettest environments. Teak is relatively light weight timber in relation to its strength and, unlike many other wood, teak is not especially prone to either twisting or splintering.
Many other hardwoods are used for outdoor furniture and some are even marketed as “ teak substitutes.” However, there is only one type of teak and no other timber will perform to the same standard as teak in outdoor conditions. Studies have shown that plantation grown teaks performs on par with natural forest teak in erosion rate, dimensional stability, warping, and surface checking.
Gloster has set its goal to be the number one distributer of teak furniture in the United States as well as the European market by ensuring that all product is tested over and over for wear and tear of the item. Gloster makes sure that there are no sap wood or dead nuts being concealed in their product. The timber is dried in a slow manner to ensure it will be free of internal tension. It is first air dried to 25-30% moister content, the kiln dried to 8-10% MC. Joints are glued with the toughest glues available with all assemblies and sub assemblies color matched. Finger joint of critical curved components ensures that the grain of the timber remains straight regardless of the curve. The standard sanded Gloster finish requires a minimum of 5 sanding steps, 3 of which are done with automated machinery, while the last 2 steps are done by hand. Their furniture has unmatched attention to detail with 100% inspection and trial assembly of all finished products.
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