Timber Species: Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua)
Dry Density: 780 kg/m³
Janka Hardness: 7.1 kN
These properties are only a guide, as timber is a natural product there will be variations within any species. The Janka Dry Hardness rating measures the hardness of the wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood.
A hardwood native to southeastern Australia, messmate is also known by a number of names such as Tasmanian oak, Stringybark, Brown top, and Australian oak. Capable of growing to a towering 90 meters tall and growing a trunk 3 meters in diameter, these giants are most often found in cooler regions of the country, most common in Victoria and Tasmania, and grows in a wide range of hilly or mountainous soils. Messmate, which has thick, stringy, and tough bark, can also be found growing on the tablelands of New South Wales and Queensland and is often found growing merrily along other Eucalyptus cousins in tall open forests.
A highly versatile hardwood, messmate has been used in a multitude of applications thanks to how easily it can be split, worked, glued, and stained, and how pliable it can be when used with steam bending techniques. A favorite for the production of pulp, messmate is also often used in joinery, furniture, and house building in addition to flooring. A lighter, highly attractive timber, messmate can range from light yellows with touches of peach to pale, subtle browns. Evenly textured and richly detailed, messmate is often noted for its breathtaking growth rings.
With a hardness rating of an easily workable 7.1 on the Janka scale and a density of just 780 kg/m³ even when dry and seasoned, messmate commonly comes with gum veins. Sapwood is usually paler, while those looking to find messmate timber that skews towards slightly darker browns should look for heartwood. Messmate is most appropriate for use in solid timber flooring, as it’s not truly dense or hard-wearing enough for other applications despite its beauty. However, messmate flooring offers some of the most attractive and light-colored timbers thanks to its deeply detailed textures.
Species commonly known as “messmate” include:
- E. acmenoides (yellow messmate)
- E. cloeziana (messmate, Gympie messmate, Queensland messmate, yellow messmate)
- E. exserta (messmate, yellow messmate)
- E. macta (red messmate)
- E. obliqua (messmate, messmate stringybark)
- E. resinifera (red messmate)
- E. robertsonii (messmate, New South Wales messmate)
- E. robusta (swamp messmate)
- E. tetradonta (messmate)