30 Apr

Tree of the Month – Robinia

This month we are focusing on the Robinia - also known as the False Acacia or the Black Locust. This happens to be a firm favourite over at Westbury Windows and Joinery because of its remarkable qualities. So prepare to be amazed.

Not just a pretty face

The Robinia is a native American tree and first made it to European shores at the beginning of the 17th century, where it became popular as an ornamental feature owing to its pink or white fragrant flowers (once used for perfume) and fluttering lime canopy.

However once people realised how tough seasoned Robinia wood is and how useful its durability is, the tree carved out an entirely new role for itself in construction and manufacturing.

The stuff of legends

Seasoned Robinia wood is highly decay resistant and won’t rot, even when submerged in soil. During the 18th century its decay resistance became the stuff of legends, and in folklore was said to last “2 years longer than stone”. Consequently, Robinia became the timber of choice for the American and British navies for ‘pinning ships’ and for the manufacture of gates and fenceposts.

Amazing facts about Robinia

  • Robinia is the third most planted hardwood tree in the world – hardly surprising given how useful it is! 
  • The Forest Products Laboratory only lists four domestic woods as having exceptionally high decay resistance and Robinia is among those.
  • The heart wood of the Robinia retains its integrity after being exposed to open weather for 80 years, 500 years under permanently moist conditions, and 1500 years in dry conditions!

A perfect wood for Westbury

Given the extreme durability of Robinia wood, it will come as no surprise that Westbury makes good use of the timber in its windows. But it might surprise you where it’s used in a Westbury window.

All corner window and door joints have a counter-profile scribed joint with multiple drilled insert dowels. This type of joint is stronger than the core material itself.

Whilst most companies use perishable insert Beech dowels, Westbury only uses German-made machined Robinia wood dowel inserts that are glued into the drilling with special formulation glues that attach to a special profile on the dowel.

Invest in the best

Robinia, is expensive, but as we now know, it is extremely durable, stable and rot proof. It is tremendously strong with the highest resistance to crushing making it ideal for mechanical jointing. Furthermore, the Robinia timber that Westbury uses is sourced from sustainable European/North America suppliers.

While a small timber dowel is an element that many manufacturers will use to cut costs because of its seeming insignificance, at Westbury we think differently. In order to manufacture the highest quality products, we take care of the smallest of details and use the best-suited and best-quality materials no matter how small.

And for that reason at Westbury we are happy to spend a little bit more on what truly is an amazing timber. So here’s to the Robinia tree!