If an illegal logger fells a tree in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did it happen? If a building demolition throws its timber to waste and nobody is around to recycle it, does it get re-used?
Trees cover 31% of the land area on our planet. Tree-huger or not, they’re a part of our every day. That seat you’re sitting on, that desk you’re working at, that pencil you’re doodling with, that warm fire you’re enjoying, that breath you just took *IN*… *OUT*, oh yeah vital oxygen…thanks trees. According to the World Wildlife Fund a devastating 46-58 thousand square miles of forest is lost each year.
They aren’t chaining themselves to trees, but they are part of the solution by using recycled timber. What started out as a response to waste in their own industry, a carpenter and his apprentice, Murray Budin and Sean Embery, found a solution driven by their passion for timber. “We saw in the building game how much goes to waste,” describes Murray. It started as side projects of building recycled furniture together, and developed into a business plan that got the skateboard rolling, so to speak.
The problem as Sean described, “how do you use the unusable lengths, as well as the offcuts.” So when they came across a random picture of a guy shaping up some boards with recycled timber they were hooked. A lot of the timber has been sourced from building sites and demolitions the pair have been involved in over the last four years. Including a ski lodge in Mount Bulla, where they uncovered timber stamped from Canada in the 1950’s.
Each board is made by hand from their small factory setup in Bayswater. From three sized board templates, each board is machined down to the right thickness before it is cut into shape. After trialling a few different ideas, it took a while before deciding on the right shape. “It’s got a diamond tail like my surfboard and I frothed on that when I bought it.” Shaping is then finished by hand before the boards are sent away to be stamped with the Ombré logo. The boards return home and are then glassed for grip -which still shows the natural timber grain- before it is finished with glaze and installed with trucks and wheels.
Ombré Skate Co. have made it their mission to bring life back into something that would otherwise be thrown away or destined for the burn pile. The wood may look crusty on the outside, but as the dirty old rough sawn pieces are chucked through the thicknesser, new life is often breathed into the timber. “It’s hard to know, but that’s the exciting part about it, you get this crusty bit of looking wood and put it through a thicknesser and as it starts coming out the other side you’re smiling,” describes Sean. Some old timber comes with knots and gum vein completely missing so we fill it with a clear epoxy and lacquer over the top, so you can see the hole.
Not all of the wood however is suitable for skateboards. “We don’t want to have just a good looking slab of timber that we screwed wheels on rolling down the road,” explains Sean. The sourced wood has to have the right densities, have a nice spring and feel good. The other side of the coin is the hardware that goes onto the board. “If I get on it and it doesn’t feel good I don’t want someone else to buy it,” remarked Murray. So naturally, all the boards go through a test ride.
Every board is uniquely hand numbered, as no two boards are the same. From a rescued fate of the burn-pile, each board has its own story to tell and Ombré Skate Co.’s Sean and Murray are the storytellers.