Shaping the future of timber with Macrocarpa - Building NZ
Shaping the future of timber with Macrocarpa

Shaping the future of timber with Macrocarpa

When you’ve been in the timber milling game as long as MacDirect’s director Murray Grant has, there’s not a lot that you haven’t seen...

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

When you’ve been in the timber milling game as long as MacDirect’s director Murray Grant has, there’s not a lot that you haven’t seen. In 1993, Murray imported a horizontal log bandmill into New Zealand with the intention of supplying green pine to the local building industry.

However, due to a market crash, he became interested in the potential of supplying a less well-known timber that was often considered an inferior grade and quality – Macrocarpa.

Today, MacDirect is the largest wholesaler of well-graded and cut Macrocarpa/Cypress in Auckland. The small, hands-on sawmill is based in Franklin, South Auckland, and with years of experience of working with this special timber, the MacDirect team have become the foremost experts on Macrocarpa in the industry.

MacDirect's product was used in the Back Country House by LTD Architectural Studio.

Cindy Hickmott, our sales, and office manager for last 10 years has overseen MacDirects customer relations as our market continues to grow. With the industry becoming increasingly regulated in terms of sawmilling and grading timber, most corporate mills today are mostly mechanised, with little to no hands-on work taking place. MacDirect specialises in cutting and machining to the individual customer's requirements.

“While we still have to operate machinery, the selection and the milling of logs is done by eye and by hand,” Murray explains. “It’s important for our millers to know what makes a certain grade and what doesn’t, as this helps us to stay flexible to the custom needs of our clients and understand what is required for a specific project. Other larger, more mechanised mills wouldn’t be able to react as fast or offer such personalised products.”

The process of milling the timber is quite complex. Once the logs are selected, they are squared up on MacDirect’s horizontal bandsaw and the flitches of the off cuts are milled down on a breast bench. The square block is then graded and sent to vertical or small horizontal saws to be cut into smaller timber for weatherboard, flooring or sarking, or used for a particular customer’s order.

Once the smaller standard timber has been sorted and filleted, it is air dried and then kiln dried. Finally, this timber is put into graded packets for profiling in to weatherboard, sarking, etc. The timber is machined into profiles only once an order is received, to ensure that a fresh machined product always goes out to clients.

Processing a Macrocarpa log at the MacDirect mill in Franklin, South Auckland.

Macrocarpa is a durable soft wood that is an ideal timber for cladding, sarking and solid beams: perfect for building a home in natural timber that is full of character and warmth. Mac is borer-resistant, hardens when dry, and accepts wood oils very well, to add to its durability.

“While Mac has been known in the past to shrink and twist, we have much better quality of logs these days that are grown in plantations, and we are always here to help with knowledge and advice around selecting the right timber for a project,” Murray says.

The promotion of healthy homes and sustainability is important for MacDirect. The mill is chemical free and environmentally friendly, with no human intervention in the treatment of its timber.

Murray says “Mac/Cypress timbers are H3.1 equivalent to treated pine in a natural state as per the New Zealand Building Code. This means that you can build a natural timber home above the ground that is 100 per cent chemical free. Our timber is also an exotic, which means it is sustainable, and the foresters who supply us with logs are mostly looking to replant new trees.”

While MacDirect’s main business focuses on improving the quality and supply of natural timber into the New Zealand building industry, the company also offers a range of lifestyle and garden products, such as outdoor timber furniture, raised gardens, sandpits and more, which have proved very popular with customers who are drawn to Macrocarpa’s aesthetic and strength.

The company enjoys working with architects and designers from day one to help them discover the benefits of using Macrocarpa. With over 25 years’ experience, MacDirect understands both what is required for a specific project, and what they need to supply to ensure that the timber is code compliant.

Today, Macrocarpa/Cypress is recognised as having a growing and important part in New Zealand's building industry. Scott concludes, “Our team of sawmillers understand the grade, what the customer wants and how to choose logs to make the product a reality. We love a challenge, and as our challenges are very similar to those of our clients, we work closely with them to achieve the best results.”

If you want to find out more about MacDirect’s locally-grown and produced timber, see here.

Stunning Macrocarpa/Cypress cladding used in the Buckton House.
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