Urban Salvage

The Drum


      JUNE 2011

  • A Timber Makeover in Newport
  • What's New

A Timber Makeover In Newport

When Urban Salvage moved into their Spotswood premises in the nineties, there were few places nearby to buy an espresso coffee. But in the intervening years, the older residents have been outnumbered by commuters and the social mums of Generation Y. They turn out on streets during a winter weekend at the first glimpse of a wan sun and haunt the new coffee houses that have appeared in the vacant shopfronts. It's a sign that no urban precinct stays moribund for long. New life is represented by those mountain buggy prams and tagalong toddlers. Tradition by recycled timbers that have become a motif for inner city café fit-outs in a Beat style. The eternal antidote to way-too-much Metro Sleek with its synthetic surfaces and clubby chocolate blanquettes. A sometimes uncoordinated or freestyle genre - but its appeal lies in what it isn't. Planned and conventional.

The corner shop on Douglas Parade crossing North Rd has always been a familiar landmark in the district. Fishermen bought bait and smokes here on their way to throw a line in the 'Warmies' - Newport Power Station discharge waters that merge with the cold waters of the Yarra mouth. Sometimes they bought a pint of milk on their way home. It's what this shop is called in its new life as a café - the Pint of Milk.

Amin's Pint of Milk café in North Rd, Newport.


Amin Elmenawi, Pint of Milk's owner, spent many months gutting the old milk bar interior and he enlisted the help of Tony Uechtritz in the fit-out. Uechtritz sees potential in all things timber. Stumps, bearers and joists all find a new life as polished timber cabinetry or shelving. Nothing is wasted. Old floorboards become tables. Stumps become chandeliers. Yet another reclaimed floor is sourced from Urban Salvage for the main café area. Any commissioned architectural review might refer to a 'high degree of improvisation' or 'an organic process'. Uechtritz would call it 'catching a mood'. Allowing found materials their proper place. Wasting nothing.

Offcuts that would normally find their way to the wood heaters after site clean ups, are used for collage cabinetry in Uechtritz's many undertakings. His Wellness Centre project in Stevedore St uses another Urban Salvage lining board to great visual effect. It is a milled board - experimental at this stage - profiled as a skip-dressed product with alternately clean or original patina on the show face. Yes, we can produce more if you like it. It ain't all science and economics, you know. There's an insistent karma to the very beat of recycled hardwoods. It's hard to stay at arms length. Uninvolved. Even the chain stores tap their fingers to its rhythm. But we know a cool cat when we see one.

Recycled timber and skip-dressed hardwood lining boards used in Williamstown's Wellness Centre.
Joinery by Tony Uechtritz.



Tony Uechtritz can be contacted for commercial bar and shop fit-outs
and timber installations on mobile 0425 290 000.

What's New

Recycled Brushbox
T & G   83 x 25mm   450m2   Rate $89.00/m2

Back in the Kennett years of the early nineties, a time of school closures across the state, Urban Salvage was salvaging classroom floors by the container load. It had to end eventually - and it did - but it seemed to begin anew in recent years as older school wings were retired to make room for the new buildings under the federal Building Education Revolution. Situated on the junction of the Campaspe and Murray Rivers in downtown Echuca, past the Old Port and down by the footy oval, Echuca College had schooled kids 'til about 2005 when the school moved further out to ground less flood-prone. 

This is valuable real estate down among the Red Gums, and a new commercial use for the land will soon be found. Many classrooms of Bata Scout be-scuffed Tasmanian Oak boards were salvaged - and are selling faster than I can type this newsletter. The gymnasium floor is 25mm thick Brushbox, lifted in good condition and offered to customers who love the salmon-taupe tones of Brushbox with its butterfly-wing chatoyance. That flicker of fiddleback that wafts rather than ripples across the planed face of the timber. The floors still have cross stripes of basketball court lines on the old polished face for those who want a funky retro look in unsanded board.




KD Red Gum
190 x 42mm   Rate $39.00/m

River Red Gum has the most readable texture of any eucalypt. Perusing the boards is akin to reading Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Dark hieratic loops, black dabs and fractures against a paler pink refractive cuneiform that is suggestive of a Rosetta stone.
Red Gum is a timber that embodies a message, if not a readable text. There is a lot of scholarly interest
in this latest batch of board, so don't miss out. 



KD Marri (WA)
190 x 32mm   Rate $39.00/m

This Western Australian timber has much in common with Red Gum. Both are attractive trees, but were never popular for construction - having mass,
density and weight, but poor strength. That's alright with me because I hate seeing these timbers sold cheaply as green sleepers. What a waste!
They are furniture timbers. They have immense visual and tactile interest - tortured grain, natural feature and a readable history of their past
in any planed face. Marri is the brown Red Gum. It's a rarity on any menu and worth a look.


Recycled Hemlock
220 x 25mm   Rate $33.00/m

A great bookshelf board possessing both strength and lightness. Almost too fair for being hidden under a kindle of paperbacks.
Grain is redolent of American Cherry or Japanese Pine. A wonderful swirling effect of earlywood and latewood,
which can be enhanced by staining, or left as a muted pale blonde tone in a matt finish.



Recycled Douglas Fir (Oregon)
220 x 25mm   Rate $

Why don't you call it 'Oregon'? I'm often asked. I have a reason. Recycled Douglas Fir, if carefully graded for appearance, doesn't resemble
new plantation Oregon product in any way. This offering is a dense, fine-grained furniture board with tight knots and a rich creamy colour.
The new stuff is Pink Pine, which can often only be used for construction purposes. I wonder if they call
Stringybarks by the nickname 'Victoria' over there in the state of Oregon.


Recycled Messmate
90 x 90mm   Rate $45.00/m

Not long enough for veranda posts - most lengths 2.0m to 2.5m - but wonderful legstock for furniture making.
Table legs. Lots of black furrowing on surface with small boltholes and nail marks.
Re-sawn from Barwon Heads Bridge timbers and dressed by planer.
A rustic mien in a strong and heavy Stringybark.