Been meaning to get ahead on your industry development for the fabrication and building sectors but had no time before Christmas? Here’s the reading and watching list for you!

Back in the first half of the year, as we went in and out of different styles of lockdowns around the country, there were a lot of plans for using the opportunity to catch up on professional development (or learn Italian or rollerskating). Some people powered though that plan! Others decided to go easy on themselves and stuck to mastering six different conferencing platforms, home schooling and making DIY loo paper through March. Some just made their way through Netflix, and there’s no judgement here.

If things have calmed down for you now, one of the good things to come out of 2020 has been the rise of the free online learning and information resource. Here are a few faves from this year that are worth catching over the holiday break.


WoodSolutions have been one of the great treasures of the year, with their regular Tuesday webinars on a range of building, design and fabrication issues. You’ll find the whole series here. The following stood out for their practical applications.

Reciprocal Framing Systems looks at a method of providing structural support with mutually supported beams in a closed circuit. Beams are shorter and loads move differently along paths, minimising deflections and vibration and allowing for complex roof shape designs that are easier to build with smaller, lighter members. There’s a bit of complexity in the design and more labour and connections required, but also a lot of potential advantages.

Using Cross-Laminated Timber in Residential Construction takes this increasingly popular mass timber material and moves it into a domestic sphere. Tyson Infanti from XLam gives a breakdown of the material’s qualities and possibilities and talks about the design potential in residential building where its superlative strength can allow for architecture otherwise not possible in timber. Infanti is extremely practical, pointing out that CLT can’t compete with light timber framing on cost, but showing how its construction time benefits and a range of environmental qualities may make it worth using in high-end homes.

Efficient Residential Structural Timber Design & Supply Specification is presented by Pryda’s Ian Hayward, who brings his years of experience to talking through the engineering and design of prefabricated elements and how to specify for best performance and efficiency. Some of this will already be known to readers, but following the whole process gives insights into the abilities of prefabricated timber and offers easy design solutions for common issues, while also providing a very handy summation of how the whole system works for other stakeholders.

Tiny homes, do they work? may not be 100% applicable to most of us, but Peter Maddison from Grand Designs presents a practical overview of this Hipster-friendly home style that may boom in the near future as part of the strong current trend to tree changes. He looks at several real-world models, including CLT routed prefab and light timber framing models that can be reconfigured with lifestyle changes.

One other thing to note is the emphasis on timber for midrise construction in the topics list. This will be a key growth area for fabricators over the coming decades. If you’re already interested in or moving into this area, check out WoodSolutions’ mid-rise masterclasses as well.


For those who prefer to listen while they run/garden/veg out looking at the waves rather than a screen, there are a range of wood-related podcasts available, too.

FWPA’s WoodChat is into its second year and has covered an enormous range of topics from high-end research through to forestry and marketing.

Free to download through SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts, several episodes are particularly relevant. Ep 14 – Building with wood in bushfire-prone areas features Boris Iskra talking about timber’s ability to meet the bushfire safety requirements of Australia’s national codes and standards.

Ep 9 – How electronic tags can enhance construction benefits of prefabricated timber hears from UTS’s Prof Perry Forsythe about a trial attaching small, radio-frequency tags to construction elements manufactured offsite. The tags help contractors understand what each piece is, what its properties are and how it should be used, as well as hold that information for later building users.


I won’t take it personally: I have about four months’ worth of New Scientist to catch up on over the break myself. If you want to target your reading, these stories offer the most practical benefits for your time.

‘The One Thing I’d Add…’ occasional series talks with various experts about the tips they’d share with their friends. Two of these are applicable across the industry, Ed Serrano’s comments on customisation in the July issue and Warwick Porter’s piece on machines that deliver the best bang for your buck in October.

Both stories offer insights that will help almost every fabricator – and many other businesses – to increase their efficiencies and offer, which will help whether you’re wanting to grow your business or deal with the volumes you already have in play.

In terms of products that can add value to your offer, the Engineered timber story in last month’s TTN covers a lot of ways in which fabricators can benefit from using more EWP and the services offered by their suppliers. Our special on Australian innovation in September looked at Stormseal, which delivers benefits ranging from protecting sites to possible licensing opportunities. And for those whose businesses include timber supply, especially in regional areas, the round wood feature in July is also worth checking out.

There’s more than enough learning to fill your downtime, but feel free to just relax instead, you’ve earned it! From all of us at TTN, a very Merry Christmas!