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When it comes to describing the timber used in our furniture you’ll often hear us using words such as unique, character, patina, tactile. You’ll also almost definitely hear us talking about its story, what tales it can tell, even after being painstakingly prepped and lovingly transformed into a table, a sideboard, a headboard and so on. 
 
When you visit our showroom you’ll see an array of furniture with differing finishes; rustic to contemporary, painted or waxed, light or dark. Initially, you’ll probably view each piece as just what it is now. A coffee table. A kitchen island. A wardrobe. 
 
But when you run your hand across the wood and look a little closer, you start to appreciate the natural colour variations, you notice the grain patterns and the little character marks; you’ll feel the robustness of the wood. You start to realise that this piece of furniture has a past, a narrative all of its own. Chances are you’ll want to know more... 

First things first, Reclaimed or Salvaged? 

The two terms are often used interchangeably. Essentially, the simple act of reusing wood defines it as ‘reclaimed,’ but both processes conform to our ultimate aim of limiting the need for new trees to be cut down. 
 
We use the term ‘reclaimed’ when we talk about wood that has previously been used in the construction of old buildings; barns, factories, docks etc. We’ve reclaimed wood from a wide variety of such places throughout the South West. 
 
Our most recent load of timber was collected from Noss Marina in Dartmouth, following the demolition of some of the houses on the current site. 
 
Unlike reclaimed wood, ‘salvaged’ refers to wood not previously cut for timber or used in construction. Here, we’re talking about wood still completely in its natural state. Storm-damaged or fallen trees are our most common example of this type of wood. All of our outdoor furniture is made from such wood. 
 
Only recently we salvaged some oaks from Pynes House in Devon to make into our traditional picnic tables, six of which are going to Stoke Hill Junior School in Exeter and three of which are heading all the way to Melrose Abbey in Scotland on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland. And of course they’ll go carrying their past with them

Old Growth 

In both cases, reclaimed and salvaged wood is ‘old growth’. Years, often centuries of aging, mean it’s harder, denser and more robust than new growth wood.  
 
This means furniture created from it has that longevity we always desire. It also has the depth of colour and intricate grain patterns that bring such character to our finished pieces. Which leads us back to the story of our wood... 

Origins 

Take a wander around our yard and workshop and you’ll see stacks of whole tree trunks, large machinery and lots of chainsaws. Piles of wooden boards and chunky slabs of wood. 
 
You’re likely to find us de-nailing ceiling joists from a local pub, prepping floor joists from a recently demolished factory or slicing and sanding storm-damaged trees. Wherever it’s from, we'll be able to tell you about it and often even have photographs that document its origins. 
 
Prior to Chunky Monkey, our company founder, Nigel, worked for many years in the demolition industry and as such we have a continued relationship with local demolition firms. In mutual agreement, we take the rough with the smooth. If we’re called in to reclaim wood from a site we’ll also take the waste wood as well. The benefit of this is that we see the wood in situ, in all its former glory and can accurately pass on its narrative to our customers. 

Reclaimed or salvaged though, it doesn’t really matter. 

As a growing population demands more wood products, pressure on natural forests is accelerating. 
 
By reclaiming and salvaging the wood we use, we are helping meet some of the heightened demand, while also reducing the need to cut more virgin wood, ultimately helping to protect and restore forests and reduce landfill waste. 
 
Just as we are hugely proud of our green credentials as a business, we also take real pride in preserving the story of our wood. 
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