Victorian Ash and Tasmanian Oak are two popular but very distinct hardwood timbers produced in Australia.
Matilda Veneer provides a veneerist’s perspective on the differences between the two hardwoods, and helps you make your timber choices by understanding their unique aesthetic.
Victorian Ash and Tasmanian Oak are trade names.
Victorian Ash refers to the hardwood produced by two species – Eucalyptus regnans and Eucalyptus delegatensis – when sourced from Victoria.
Tasmanian Oak refers to the hardwood produced by three species – Eucalyptus regnans, Eucalyptus obliqua and Eucalyptus delegatensis – when sourced from Tasmania. Despite the name ‘oak’ in this timber, none of these species are in the genus Quercus.
Also, in Victoria, Eucalyptus obliqua is referred to as Stringybark or Messmate.
However, to conclude that Victorian Ash and Tasmanian Oak are, for the most part, the same thing, just sourced from different states of Australia, would be erroneous.
From a veneer perspective, Ash and Oak are more different than what the above descriptions indicate. Veneers are differentiated on the basis of grain, figure and colour. Veneer manufacturers and distributors are less concerned about the timber’s source state or the actual species used to produce the veneer; they are more focused on the appearance of the veneer – specifically the colour.
Generally speaking, Victorian Ash and Tasmanian Oak feature light tones ranging from straw to a light pinkish brown. However, when it comes to veneer, Ash refers to the lightest coloured veneers and Oak to the darker veneers. Most of the veneer sourced from Tasmanian Oak tend to be slightly darker in appearance.
Based on the above, Victorian Ash and Tasmanian Oak veneers target two significantly different markets. While Tasmanian Oak has high demand, it also is available widely, keeping the price of the veneer affordable. On the other hand, the supply of Victorian Ash cannot keep up with the high demand because lighter colour veneer represents a small proportion of veneer produced from these Eucalypts. This also means Victorian Ash is expensive.
There’s also the added pressure of the increasing prevalence of imported Eucalyptus veneer from Spain, known commonly as Plantation Oak. The high production volumes in Europe help keep the cost of the veneer low; moreover, to an untrained eye, Plantation Oak veneer is quite similar in appearance to Tasmanian Oak, impacting the cost further. Ash is somewhat immune to this pressure as there is very little Ash coloured veneer in the imported Eucalyptus.
One more thing: When the veneers are darker than the accepted range for Tasmanian Oak, you can expect them to be referred to as Stringybark.
Hopefully, this article will help architects, designers and users of these amazing hardwoods in understanding their unique aesthetic. Veneers not only add warmth and beauty to all projects but also raise the level of design in any application.
Matilda Veneer manufactures all the ‘species’ outlined above in crown- and quarter-cut, both with figure and without. These veneers are available in a number of grades from clear, consistent and defect-free to a range of feature grades where natural defects including gum, borers and discolouration are embraced. If you need help with your specification or deciphering the subtle but critical differences, feel free to contact us at your convenience.