Port Orford Cedar wood shafts have arrived in Australia
Sept 07: There is nothing quite like the beautiful aroma of Port Orford Cedar that permeates the air in our warehouse. It is like having an oil burner burning 24/7. On 6th September 2007, our shipment of 17,000 cedar shafts arrived and has created much interest with traditional archers who were in the know and their anticipation is understandable as we had been waiting on these shafts for quite some time. (If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox as your browser, hover your cursor over each image to read the photo captions) We were most fortunate in securing the remaining stock of premium and select wood shafts from one of our major US manufacturers, Martin Archery, Inc. We were expecting just under 1 tonne from Martin and Easton, but when the truck pulled up, we realised that 4 pallets from Easton were left at the docks. Our photos of the cartons sitting on our pallet racking does not show the true size or weight of these little beauties. Each carton weighs 26 kg (57 lbs) and if you do the sums, you are looking at 494 kg - nearly half a tonne of wood shafts!
It is worth providing a snapshot on the beautiful Port Orford Cedar.
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana is a cypress in the genus Chamaecyparis, family Cupressaceae, known by the name Lawson's Cypress in the horticultural trade, or (inaccurately, as it is not a cedar) Port Orford Cedar and it predates man in the North American continent by tens of thousands of years. The US Department of Agriculture officially calls it by the name Port Orford Cedar, as do most people in its native area, but as it is not a cedar, many botanists prefer to avoid the name, using Lawson's Cypress or in very rare instances, Port Orford Cypress, instead to stop confusion. The horticultural industry, in which the species is very important, mostly uses the name Lawson's Cypress.
Seeds from Japan blew into the sea and drifted on the current. As the seeds took root and began to flourish, they spread inland 80 miles or 130 kilometres south and north 50 miles or 80 kilometres. Its native range is from Coos Bay in south west of Oregon state to the Klamath River in the adjoining north west of California state in the United States. It is found near the coast from sea level and locally to 5500 feet or 1700 metres in the Siskiyou Mountains and Mt. Shasta area and prefers sandy and clay loams and rocky ridges and often along streams and is usually in mixed, but sometimes pure stands. It thrives best in well-drained but moist soils. The Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon is largely made up of these magnificent trees, which have been prized for their straight grain and aromatic scent.
Of all major forest trees found in western North America, this species has suffered most from human activity. Wood from the Port Orford Cedar tree is highly prized in Japan. This species is being decimated both in the wild and in cultivation by a fatal root rot that is still spreading. Nearly all old-growth forests have been logged and the surviving trees are steadily dying from this introduced disease. Human facilitated spread is thought to be responsible for most new and all long-distance infections. Soil on vehicle tyres, especially logging trucks and other off-road vehicles is considered the most pressing problem due to the volume of soil that can be carried and the traffic rate in and between susceptible areas. In addition, soil on boots and mountain bike tyres has also been suggested and probably contributes to new infections locally. Animal facilitated spread is thought to occur, but is localised.
In Europe and the UK, Port Orford white cedar, is known for its grace in ornamental garden plantings and for its versatile wood and foliage colour. As logs, it is particularly highly valued in east Asia with large amounts being exported from the US to Japan where it is in high demand for making coffins. It brings higher prices than almost any other conifer in the United States. The wood is light and durable and due to the straightness of its grain, it is also one of the preferred woods for the manufacture of arrow shafts.This valuable tree, however, has a very limited range and an uncertain future. Management of Port Orford Cedar has become impossible in much of its range since the introduction of this fatal root rot and old growth forests are being depleted rapidly and the use of second growth forests is complicated because early growth is relatively slow. The commercial future of one of the most beautiful and potentially useful trees will depend on development of practices that minimise infection by root rot.
It is a large evergreen coniferous tree regularly reaching 200 feet or 50-70 metres tall with feathery foliage in flat sprays, usually somewhat glaucous blue-green in colour. It was first discovered near Port Orford in Oregon and successfully introduced into cultivation in the United Kingdom in 1854 by collectors working for the Lawson & Son nursery in Edinburgh, Scotland, after which it was named as Lawson's Cypress by the describing botanist, Andrew Murray.
The wood is very close-grained, hard, strong, durable, easily worked, light, abounding in fragrant resin and acid resistant. It has been used in many applications including battery separators, mill work, boats, railway sleepers. As one of the world's finest timbers, it is also widely used for flooring, fencing, making boats and has been used to make broom handles. It is now in short supply due to over-harvesting without replanting.
Up until the introduction of this disease, the wood was extremely resistant to insects and decay. For many decades, Port Orford Cedar has been the wood of choice for the finest archery wood arrow shafts because of its characteristics of strength and straight grain. Many traditional archers such as the famous archer and hunter, Howard Hill have used Port Orford Cedar shafts.
Port Orford Cedar oil, known commercially as Rose of Cedar, is used all over the world today for aromatherapy, cosmetics, personal and environmental deodorisers, pet grooming products, insect repellents, cleaners and disinfectants. The oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties as well as keeping bugs and insects away. It is all natural, non-toxic and an ideal essential oil.
Our Port Orford Cedar Shafts originally came from Rose City Archery, Inc., the largest wood arrow shaft manufacturer in the world. Abbey had a long association with Acme Wood Products, which was taken over by Rose City some years ago. Rose City has been in continuous operation since its foundation in 1932 in Portland, Oregon, originally crafting bows as well as world renowned Port Orford Cedar arrows and shafts. Today Rose City produces and exports shafts world-wide as well as by-products of garden stakes and sawdust for use in aromatherapy and for distilling the Port Orford Cedar oil. The company is barred from logging new forests and states to only harvest fallen timbers, dead trees from ancient forest fires and timber uncovered after years of lying on the forest floor buried by undergrowth. The loggers pack their saws and equipment into the forest on their backs or on mule or horse and in most cases, the Port Orford Cedar logs are said to be salvaged by helicopters, as motorised equipment is not allowed in the forest.
In Australia, there is a severe shortage of premium grade wood shafts because locally produced shafts from far north Queensland where the trees for our wood shafts grow, are usually procured from timber mills who expedite the maturing of the wood by prematurely kiln drying the wood before the wood has seasoned. This results in an abnormally high failure rate with many shafts not achieving a satisfactory spine rating or breaking during the dowelling process. Consequently it becomes uneconomic for local producers to make wood shafts with this high failure rate.
Over the last two years or so, there has been an upsurge in interest in traditional and medieval archery both in the US, Europe and here in Australia and while we have tried to keep a quantity of shafts in stock, this has become very difficult of late. Once the word gets out to our trad customers, we expect that the shafts will be eagerly snapped up.
Secure your dozen wood shafts now. Also available in a pack of 100.