Gum, River Red

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River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is an iconic Australian tree, yielding an equally iconic Australian timber. The timber has a reputation for durability, strength and its distinctive red colouring. Its wide availability has seen it used for a range of applications including heavy construction, railway sleepers, flooring, framing, fencing, plywood and veneer manufacture, wood turning, firewood and charcoal production. It was also commonly used as street paving throughout Sydney in the late 1800s.

The river red gum has a widespread distribution around the Australian mainland, except southern Western Australia, south-western South Australia and the eastern coastal areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. In keeping with its name, this species is commonly found along the rivers. It can withstand submersion during floods for long periods.

The hallmark of river red gum timber is its distinctive red appearance. The heartwood is red to reddish brown in colour with the timber's texture having some coarseness. The grain is commonly interlocked with frequent gum veins. The timber's charm is often best showcased in furniture; the spectacular deep red colour and the typical fiddle-back figure of river red gum timber make each piece of furniture unique.

The heartwood of the river red gum displays considerable durability (class 2), allowing for a range of exterior applications, including heavy commercial construction, general framing, sleepers, flooring, panelling and joinery.

 

Appearance

River red gum is so named for its brilliant red wood, which can range from a light pink through to almost black, depending on the age and weathering of the timber. The timber can be somewhat brittle to handle, and its texture is moderately coarse and even. Its interlocked grain and ever-present gum veins add to its appearance, but may make it difficult to work. The high incidence of cross-grain can also make hand working complex. River red gum has recently been recognised in craft furniture. Its deep red colour and distinctive fiddle-back figure make it a popular timber for wood turners and cabinetmakers alike.

Common Applications

Traditionally, river red gum is used in rot resistant applications, as stumps, fence posts and sleepers. Its colour and distinctive figure have more recently become popular for decorative furnishing. This widely available timber has been used in domestic decks, exposed hardwood structures as well as internal fit-outs, joinery and in furniture. River red gum is well suited to garden landscape structures such as retaining walls and garden beds. It is excellent for non-domestic decks and timber flooring as well as structural applications.

Common Form

Sawn

Workability

River red gum requires care when working. The heartwood of this distinctive species is quite durable (class 2), allowing for a range of exterior applications, but the sapwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack.

While the durability, distinctive colour and figure offer great versatility, this timber needs careful selection as it tends to be quite reactive to changes in humidity (that is, it moves about a lot in service). It is quite hard and dense (about 900 kg/m3) making it difficult to machine and tough to sand. It is a popular timber for wood turners, particularly if old and well seasoned, and carves well. It can, however, be difficult to nail and screw, and can be glued using polyurethane. It takes a fine polish and accepts most coatings, but is particularly suited to oil, which creates a brilliant finish.

Origin of Timber

NSW

Readily Available

NSW

Availability - Further Information

River red gum trees are a common sight along the rivers and waterways of the Australian mainland. It speed of growth makes it a useful plantation timber, and as a result, it has become one of the most widely planted eucalypts in the world. Plantations occur in Argentina, Arizona, Brazil, California, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Upper Volta, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe. The timber is therefore readily available.

Availability - Further Information

Native Forest

Shrinkage

Very Low Low Medium High Very High

Tangential :

8.90%

Radial:

4.40%

Unit Movement Tangential:

0.31%

Unit Movement Radial:

0.22%

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:

F11

F8

F7

F5

F4

Seasoned:

F17

F14

F11

F8

F7

Density per Standard

Seasoned:

910kg/m3

Unseasoned:

1140kg/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:

64

Modulus of Rupture - Seasoned:

101

Modulus of Elasticity - Unseasoned:

8

Modulus of Elasticity - Seasoned:

11

Maximum Crushing Strength - Unseasoned:

33

Maximum Crushing Strength - Seasoned:

55

Impact - Unseasoned:

11.6

Impact - Seasoned:

8.6

Toughness - Unseasoned:

Medium - 15 - 24 Nm

Toughness - Seasoned:

Low - up to 15 Nm

Hardness - Unseasoned:

6.8

Hardness - Seasoned:

9.6

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:

Resistant

Fire Properties

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

EFH Spread-of-Flame Index:

EFH Smoke-Developed Index:

Critical Radiance Flux - Lower:

>2.2 and <4.5

Critical Radiance Flux - Higher:

≥4.5

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, 19 and 29 – All AS3959 required applications

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.

 

Decking

Download the WoodSolutions Technical Design Guide on Domestic Timber Decking here.

Timber decks are a practical and attractive addition to any outdoor landscape. Natural timber decks blend seamlessly with their surrounding environment and will serve as popular entertaining areas all year long.

As an external structure, carrying large loads of traffic, timber decking has high structural performance requirements. In addition decks are usually raised clear off the ground and fully exposed to the weather meaning an effective deck must be able to cope with wear and tear from repeated use and in addition discharge rainwater efficiently. Roundin the corners (easing the arris) of the decking will help run off water while spacing for ventilation between the decking boards will prevent water ponding on the deck surface. 

Timber decking is available in both seasoned and unseasoned wood, in a wide range of species, sizes and grades. The natural appeal and strength of timber makes it a practical choice for outdoor decking. This guide provides an overview of best practice methods for specifying, installing and finishing a timber deck.

Retaining Walls (Landscaping)

The natural appeal, strength and versatility of timber makes it an ideal choice for retaining wall landscaping applications.

Retaining wall systems include cantilevered round or sawn timber, mass wall and crib wall construction. Walls up to one metre in height follow a basic design and can usually be constructed using standard proprietary wall systems. An engineer will be required to plan and design walls greater than one metre, including the footings and drainage.

Drainage of retaining walls is a critical factor in influencing the long term stability of the wall and should thus form a significant part of the design and planning process. 

Regular care and maintenance of retaining walls is essential in ensuring the long-term stability and safety of the structure.

Structural Timber Poles

Timber pole construction is typically utilised to provide support for gravity loads and resistance against lateral forces. The natural appeal of timber ensures that its role is not purely structural however, with timber poles complimenting architectural designs aimed at harmonisation with the natural environment. The small number of footings required in pole frame construction also ensures minimal disturbances to the site.

With a double bearer system, poles can be spaced further apart than is usual, creating a more spacious building interior, that allows greater interior design flexibility. While poles are usually placed in a grid like system this is not compulsory and the flexibility of the application means the system can cope with a wide variety of designs, enabling designers to take full advantage of beautiful outlooks.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the process involved in specifying, designing and constructing a solid timber pole construction.

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