Students at one of Sydney’s most decorated technical secondary colleges, Northern Beaches Secondary College (NSBC) Freshwater Senior Campus, had the unique opportunity to use premium Tasmanian timber as a part of their HSC Major Project, crafting Tasmanian Blackwood into fine custom furniture.

Year twelve students that enrolled in the specialized course ‘Industrial Technology Timber’ used the Tasmanian timber as a part of their HSC Major Project to create a bespoke piece of furniture of their choice. Leading up to the hands-on craftsmanship of the furniture, students learned various forms of technical woodworking skills, including creating sketches and digital images, before creating a full-scale prototype to grasp their concept and refine the making process.

“We learn about the properties of timber and selecting and justifying the most appropriate material for the project. The beauty of Blackwood is that it’s such a good timber for furniture and its easy for students to justify using it,” says teacher and acclaimed furniture designer-maker, Benjamin Percy.

Students were encouraged to explore designs, styles and designers from which to draw inspiration for their projects. Putting their woodworking knowledge and skills to work, students then created various pieces of furniture including chairs, cabinets, entertainment units, a desk and a guitar.

“Students typically only experience working with low grade timber for their Major Project. The students were very appreciative to work with fine Tasmanian hardwoods, supported by Britton Timbers, that are also certified and come from a reputable company,” says Percy.

Students presented their projects at an exhibition style ceremony where representatives from Britton Timbers presented Katya Caterina with the ‘Most Creative Design’ for her Blackwood Pod Chair and Ali Turner with the ‘Best Overall Design and Craftsmanship” award for her Blackwood, Tasmanian Oak and Sassafras cabinet, along with $750 in tool vouchers to Carbatec.

The winning students spent hundreds of hours over 10 months creating their pieces, utilizing CAD software, hand sketches and 3D printers, meticulously considering calculations, angles and shapes to create their award-winning pieces.

“The level of precision and care that went into these projects is truly impressive. Being able to use Blackwood as the main material for their projects was a great experience for the students as they got to see how well it could be shaped, bent and finished.”

And for Britton Timbers Director Shawn Britton, he was pleased to be a part of contributing to the development the next generation of designers.

“Giving the Freshwater Campus students the opportunity to use and experience Tasmanian hardwoods was a pleasure. These students are our up and coming craftspeople and designers of tomorrow and need to be exposed to various forms of materials. Witnessing the hard work and dedication the students put into each individual project was truly impressive and the finished pieces were an impeccable and really beautiful display of Tasmanian Timber,” says Shawn Britton.

Tasmanian Blackwood has been used for the creation and construction of fine furniture and decorative uses in New South Wales for 150 years. The Freshwater students are carrying on this longtime tradition of fine craftsmanship of Tasmanian timbers in Sydney.

NSBC Freshwater Campus also has a long association with Britton Timbers, who supply Tasmanian Blackwood and Tasmanian Oak amongst their range of timbers.