Beech, Myrtle

Myrtle beech, also known as Tasmanian myrtle, is a medium-sized hardwood that mainly grows in the temperate rainforest areas of Tasmania and eastern Victoria. While its name may imply otherwise, myrtle beech has no connection to the European myrtle. The name ‘myrtle’ is believed to have come from the early timber workers.

The heartwood can be pink or a more popular warm reddish brown and may also feature traces of orange, while the sapwood is pale and narrow. Even-textured, myrtle beech has a fine grain that can be straight, interlocked or feature a fiddleback pattern. Growth rings may also be visible. The burls and knotty wood of myrtle beech are favoured by craftspeople.

While myrtle beech is good for steam bending, it only provides moderate workability. Some collapse can occur through drying.

A strong and dense timber, it is not particularly durable, and due to its generally colour-rich appearance, myrtle beech is favoured for internal applications such as decorative veneers, high-end joinery, furniture and flooring. Myrtle Beech is also used for bridge and wharf decking and plywood.

Appearance

Myrtle beech is favoured as an appearance timber due to its rich reddish-brown heartwood, grain characteristics, fine texture and its ability to provide a very smooth finish. It has narrow, pale almost whitish sapwood and may also feature visible growth rings.

The grain may be straight, interlocked or feature a wavy, fiddleback pattern. The burls add to the timber’s appeal for veneers, joinery and furniture. Pale and pink myrtle variations are also available, which are generally used for commercial applications.

 

Common Applications

While myrtle beech is a strong and dense timber, it is not particularly durable and is primarily an appearance timber. Its main applications include decorative veneers, paneling, high-end joinery, furniture and flooring. Other applications include bridge and wharf decking and plywood.

 

Common Form

Veneer

Workability

Myrtle beech only provides a moderate workability but will deliver a very smooth finish – perfect for internal applications. It can be difficult to glue and care needs to be taken when nailing to avoid splitting the timber. It is suitable for steam bending and turning. myrtle beech generally accepts most timber coatings and oils well.

 

Origin of Timber

VIC

Readily Available

VIC

Availability - Further Information

Myrtle beech is mainly available in Tasmania and Victoria. Check with local suppliers in other states and territories.

Availability - Further Information

Native Forest

Shrinkage

Very Low Low Medium High Very High

Tangential :

4.70%

Radial:

2.30%

Unit Movement Tangential:

0.32%

Unit Movement Radial:

0.18%

Strength Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium High

Medium

Reasonably Low

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

S1

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

Seasoned:

SD1

SD2

SD3

SD4

SD5

SD6

SD7

SD8

Stress Grade

Structural
No. 1
Structural
No. 2
Structural
No. 3
Structural
No. 4
Structural
No. 5

Unseasoned:

F14

F11

F8

F7

F5

Seasoned:

F17

F14

F11

F8

F7

Density per Standard

Seasoned:

700kg/m3

Unseasoned:

1100kg/m3

Joint Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

J1

J2

J3

J4

J5

J6

Seasoned:

JD1

JD2

JD3

JD4

JD5

JD6

Colour

  White, yellow, pale straw to light brown Pink to pink brown Light to dark red Brown, chocolate, mottled or streaky
   

Mechanical Properties

Modulus of Rupture - Unseasoned:

71

Modulus of Rupture - Seasoned:

108

Modulus of Elasticity - Unseasoned:

12

Modulus of Elasticity - Seasoned:

14

Maximum Crushing Strength - Unseasoned:

33

Maximum Crushing Strength - Seasoned:

56

Impact - Unseasoned:

12

Impact - Seasoned:

13

Toughness - Unseasoned:

Medium - 15 - 24 Nm

Toughness - Seasoned:

Low - up to 15 Nm

Hardness - Unseasoned:

4.4

Hardness - Seasoned:

5.9

Durability

Low Moderate Reasonably High High
(0 - 5 yrs) (5 - 15 yrs) (15 - 25 yrs) (more than 25 yrs)

In-Ground:

(0 - 7 yrs) (7 - 15 yrs) (15 - 40 yrs) (More than 40 yrs)

Above ground:

(0 - 20 yrs, usually < 5) (21 - 40 yrs) (41 - 64 yrs) (More than 60 yrs)

Marine Borer Resistance:

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility:

Susceptible

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility - Other:

Termite Resistance:

Not Resistant

Fire Properties

Critical Radiance Flux - Lower:

>2.2 and <4.5 kW/m2

Critical Radiance Flux - Higher:

≥4.5 kW/m2

Smoke Development Rate:

<750
1 - non-combustible 2 - reasonably non-combustible 3 - slightly combustible 4 - combustible

Fire Properties Group
Number:

Average Specific Extinction Area:

<250

Bushfire Resistance:

BAL 12.5 and 19 – Door and window joinery only

Joinery

Timber joinery products offer a classic, unique and stylish touch to any interior or exterior design. The products are produced for a variety of internal applications including door and window frames, cabinetry, skirtings, mouldings and architraves. When looking to the outdoors, joinery products range from decorative eaves and posts to eye-catching railings.

Many timber species are suitable for joinery products and care should be taken in selecting the perfect timber for the particular product and its intended finish. Rare and exotic species such as Teak and Rosewood can generate pieces of outstanding beauty but material cost and availability are also important considerations.

Commercially available species like Tasmanian oak, Australian cypress, spotted gum and the like, often make the more practical choice, with the added benefit that they can be easily matched with other timber products within the building, like flooring.

Solid timber for joinery products is generally supplied as ‘clear finish grade' but ‘paint grade' options are available and these are usually comprised of a composite material like MDF or glulam.

A large number of specialist suppliers and producers offer the consumer extensive choice of profiles for all of the most common and popular joinery products. Choice is in many cases, limited only by imagination.

Cabinetry is often associated with joinery and most typically includes, cupboards, benches and other similar ‘built in' furniture. Like joinery, cabinetry is generally specified as either paint or clear finish grade and naturally for clear finish grade timbers, appearance and surface finish are critical in achieving a successful application.

 

Mouldings

Timber mouldings add style, class and an elegant touch to any interior, offering a depth of beauty and warmth in a way only wood can. From period times to those more contemporary, timber mouldings have graced the most stylish and chic of interiors, decorating furniture, doors and windows. Decorative mouldings such as architraves, skirtings, cornices and ceiling roses remain an ever popular choice for designers seeking a finished result of beauty, style and quality. Like all timber products, mouldings are extremely versatile and durable, enhancing the aesthetics of any interior and functioning as the perfect finishing touch for designs with a focus on beauty and splendour.

Mouldings can be created from any commercially available species of timber and the moisture resistant wood product, MDF, is also a popular choice. When it comes to style and design, the sky is the limit with many suppliers offering custom matching to existing mouldings, as well as efficient supply of those that are individually designed. Installation is a breeze, with the majority of mouldings easily attached with a reputable wood adhesive. Finishes can be tailored by design requirements and the preferences of the end user, with mouldings commonly being both stained and/or painted.

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