Ex-banking man Faizuri puts discarded timber into better use

KUALA LIPIS, Oct 17: With today’s soaring prices for newly-logged timber and increasing environmental concerns, furniture makers are turning to wood wastes as a resource for new and sustainable business opportunities.

At KZ Bakti Enterprise, a furniture workshop at Kampung Chegar Perah, about 47 kilometres from here, visitors would not have guessed that the exquisite furniture pieces on display are made from wood wastes like tree branches that are collected from nearby rivers, forests or caves.

In fact, using wood wastes rather than freshly-cut timber can be a more eco-friendly option. For KZ Enterprise owner, Faizuri Abdul Kadir, 36, there’s no need to cut down trees as it can result in the loss of habitat for various animal species, which can ultimately harm the ecosystem.

With his creativity, he has been able to produce various types of quality handicraft and furniture, among others, vases, ladles, mortars, door knobs and dining tables from wood waste.

It all started at end-2018 when he saw piles of wood wastes, which were still in good condition, discarded by the roadside, in nearby forests and around caves, during floods.

“At that time, the piles of wood which were floating in the water were solid. In fact, some people had even thrown them in front of my house. I noticed that the wood was still in good condition and it dawned on me that I should put them to better use.

“Coincidentally, I was short of wood and to save cost, I started collecting the discarded, which were already cut to pieces or were ready for producing furniture and wood-based products,” he said.

Some of the discarded wood, he said, were mainly from overloaded logging trucks crossing bridges as well as from fallen trees after the rain. Getting hold of the discarded wood in Tanum River was not that difficult given that his house is located just a few metres away from the river.

Faizuri, who runs the business with his eldest brother, Isamazazarudin Abdul Kadir, 42, was previously working in the banking sector in Kuala Lumpur for nearly 10 years.

He was drawn into furniture-making after watching a video on YouTube.

Besides focusing on wood products as well as building materials for houses such as decorative carvings for gates and door knobs, their workshop also produces small-sized items such as ladles, mortars,  spoons, chopping boards,  carving boards and souvenirs.

To date, Faizuri has been overwhelmed by demand for his products from local and foreign visitors who either purchase them directly at his workshop or through online shopping platforms.

 “We produce eight types of wood-based products that are sold at prices ranging from RM25 to RM4,000.

 “The highest price is for our dining table set measuring 2.7 metres x 1.2 metres costing about RM4,000. We usually take about a week to get them ready for our customers after securing our supply of wood wastes,” he said.

According to Faizuri, he would usually ride on his motorbike with his brother in search of discarded wood in their village, including caves around Merapoh and Kuala Lipis.

Besides Gua Temalong, they also cover other caves around the Tanum Valley.

 “There were times when our cousins and other villagers would ride on a boat together to collect the wood wastes floating in the river and take them back to the workshop for drying, and later to produce wood products for sale,” he added.

Most of the timber species are the kemuning batu, kerbau, nangka, tembusu and halban.

Faizuri also leverages on his expertise in restoring the discarded wood to their original state, including making them look as natural-looking as possible from their “decomposed or cracked in the middle state” into furniture.

 “In fact, such products are highly in demand as my principle is to retain the wood’s original condition and not ‘change’ its form. Natural shapes like that of wood are unique…they don’t need to be worked to become beautiful. You just need to transform them.

 “Most of these timber species are the kemuning batu, which are found around Gua Temalong, either under trees or inside the caves,” he said, adding that the kemuning batu is rarely found at other places except in caves.

Besides the fine craftsmanship and wood tones, Faizuri’s relatively low prices have often caught the eye of foreign tourists visiting Tanum Valley for kayaking and the nearby caves.

 “They would usually buy two to five products to be brought home to their respective countries. Most of the items bought are ladles, spoons and chopping boards, not only for household use but as decorations to be hung on walls as well as souvenirs,” he said.

Faizuri said his calendar of events for this year is packed with invitations for him to promote his wood waste products at various exhibitions nationwide. Such shows provide an opportunity for them raise awareness on the importance of protecting the forest biodiversity without cutting trees in order to get quality timber for making furniture.

 “Actually, wood wastes can also be turned into furniture and products of quality. But many people are not aware of their benefits. Unfortunately, they throw away the remaining piece of timber has been cut for other purposes.

 “We make every effort to utilise all wood waste that are left by the roadside, near caves or in rivers. Indirectly, we also help to clean up the river, hence helping to ensure the safety of boats that ply the river,” he said.