An Invincible machine for a “Guinness world record” table

6 Jun 2022
A huge, 5,000 year old oak tree and an incredible challenge: a table that is more than 13 metres long, which has been donated to the British nation to preserve the memory of such an ancient, prestigious wood.

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. Such timber instantly attracted a huge amount of interest, so much so that a group of experts lead by Hamish Low 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. 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” which led to the realisation of a masterpiece of unique design as well as being of considerable symbolic worth.

On 17 May 2022 the table was unveiled by Princess Anne to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, at the prestigious Ely Cathedral in the county of Cambridgeshire. It will be housed in this 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. Afterwards, in the same College, the boards were worked on a SCM surface planer, L’invincibile s7, one of the industry's best loved joinery machines supplied by the Italian group.

It is a model particularly well suited to hard, quality wood like the Jubilee oak because the inverter on the feeder allows the operator to adjust the entry speed of the piece being machined to suit his needs. Other features of this surface planer, like its pneumatic adjustment, the possibility of varying the thrust on the infeed and outgoing rollers and their simple, fast change, guarantee excellent finishing and manufacturing quality.

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 s7 - adds the architect Mauro Dell’Orco, project design coordinator -. “The planks were sanded by hand, so it was essential for the surface planer to guarantee an excellent finish quality: we were very confident that the possibility to easily control independently the pressure of both the feeding and the rubber dragging rolls would have led to that result".

"L’invincibile s7 is a genuinely powerful machine as well as extremely accurate" explain some of the craftsmen involved in the project. As well as the model's specifications, when choosing the machinery, the needle swung in favour of SCM technologies' strength which is particularly appreciated for its "proven record", "excellent reliability of its range of solutions" and the speed and efficiency of the technical support provided.