SCM, technological partner for the “Fenland Black Oak Project”

5 Aug 2019

A huge, 5,000 year old oak tree and an incredible challenge: a table that is more than 13 metres long, which will be donated to the British nation to preserve the memory of such an ancient, prestigious wood. SCM technology was selected to machine the exclusive planks at the Building Crafts College in Stratford.

The Jubilee Oak is the rarest, most prestigious timber in Great Britain, as well as being a material with unique structural and aesthetic features. In 2012, in the Fenland countryside, a farmer came across a piece of trunk purely by accident while he was working the land with his plough. Such timber instantly attracted a huge amount of interest, so much so that a group of experts began to take a closer look at its "roots". The team finally discovered that it was a huge black oak tree which had been buried under the peat for almost 5,000 years.

With no budget and against all expectations, a team of dedicated craftsmen set themselves the challenge of preserving this "giant" from the Fenland, a genuine piece of national heritage. They came to the conclusion that the only way to keep this exceptional tree whole was to make a "Guinness world record" table, the length of these planks of wood which are over 13 metres long.

This was the origin of the “Fenland Black Oak Project”, an exceptional challenge aimed at preserving as much as possible of this black oak tree before this considerable treasure was lost for ever. This special table will be a masterpiece of unique design as well as being of considerable symbolic worth and will be housed in the prestigious Ely Cathedral, a magnificent Romanesque and Gothic style building, North East of London, surrounded by fields that conceal, in their depths, a large number of black oaks dating back thousands of years.

The tree has ten sequential planks which were transported and dried at the Building Crafts College in Stratford in a 14 metre long kiln specially set up for the occasion. 18 people were required to lift each plank into the furnace and almost 2000 litres of water were extracted from the timber. In the same College, work began on the 22 July to install the machinery which will process the planks up until 16 August: an SCM thicknessing planer, L’invincibile s 7, one of the industry's best loved joinery machines supplied by the Italian group.

“In order to work on planks of this size (13.4 m long and approx. 0.5 m wide) weighing an incredible 150 kg each, a machine with an extremely powerful motor was required and with outstanding finishing potential. This is why the choice fell to the SCM's L’invincibile s 7, adds the architect Mauro Dell’Orco, project design coordinator. “The planks will be sanded by hand, so it was essential for the thicknessing planer to guarantee an excellent finish quality: we are very confident that the possibility to easily control independently the pressure of both the feeding and the rubber dragging rolls will lead to that result".

Stay tuned!