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Showing posts from 2011

Last Blog Posting of 2011

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Well, I hope you all had a pretty good year, and that Go Wood made it a little better in some small way. Thanks for coming back each time...we had over 80,000 views of the blog this year, which I think just goes to show how much people really love wood and reading about the ways that we can use it wiser, more often, and more efficiently.

Thanks also to those who voted in the poll that was posted all year in the right panel on Favorite Topics. By coincidence, 110 people stated their preference, and this post is the 110th post since I started the blog about a year ago. When I started, I thought it was going to be devoted to wood energy issues, but the poll showed me that you all have a fairly broad and evenly distributed range of interests...

Bioenergy - 28
Wood Design - 34
Wood Species - 27
Wood Artifacts and History - 29
Wood Industries - 33
Housing and the Economy - 20
All of the above - 20

and six folks admitted to being spies for the plastic industry.

Well, since your votes didn…

Wood Stove Use and Maintenance

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In the last post I discussed the use of green wood in the wood stove, and its potential advantage in stretching your wood supply and lowering the overall cost of your winter wood supply. If you're considering this for your own stove, you need to make sure to maintain a regular schedule of cleaning your chimney flue. If you burn a lot of green wood, you will increase the amount of creosote buildup in the flue, and if left to build up for too long, it may lead to a chimney fire.

Regular users of wood stoves who get their stove up to a nice fire every day will reduce the amount of creosote build-up, and a yearly chimney cleaning will usually suffice for daily users. However, folks who only use their stoves irregularly, or on weekends, will wind up with more creosote build-up in their chimney. If you're one of these occasional wood stove users, try to stick to well-seasoned wood...it will give you more heat and pleasure for the shorter time you're using it.

The University of …

"Green" Energy from American Elm and Green Wood

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Winter has finally arrived here in central Pennsylvania. Thirty-two degrees today and the wind is howling. Time to break out the long-handle underwear and gloves.

I'm experimenting with my stoves again this year. Seems like every year I come up with something new to try. This year, I lost a big old American elm in the back of the house, and my friend Martin Melville came out and took the big boy down in a couple of hours. Martin is an artist with the ropes, and his manipulating those huge branches to avoid smashing in my roof was a thing to marvel at. He and I are the same age, and while I get dizzy pulling off my pajama bottoms in the morning, he's out there swinging around sixty feet in the air with a chain saw in one hand and a rope in the other. I think he missed his calling with the circus.

So, I get to experiment with this winter with American elm, which is something most folks these days don't get to do, since it is so rare these days. According to the nice heating …

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

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"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."-Matthew 2:10-12, The King James Bible

So goes the story. I always thought it an interesting one, especially for the two mysterious gifts with names that I never saw anywhere outside of the Bible. Gold, that was easy, and it showed that these three wise men were serious players. But frankincense and myrrh? What the heck is that?

As a kid, I always had a vague notion that frankincense was some kind of magic dust that was somehow associated with Frankenstein. And that myrrh was a smooth, sweet, middle-eastern butter. Well, I could see how Mary and Joseph would apprec…

Spirit of the Season, In Wood

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For football fans, Christmas and Budweiser are eternally linked by video images of Clydesdales pulling beer wagons through the snow to the sound of bells and soft music.

Well, our industry friends at FinnForest have created a wood industry version of that marketing phenomenon, of a sort. Entitled "The Spirit of Wood", the video below provides us with a spiritual look at an industry that contributes so much to our shared human experience. While you enjoy the video, listen closely to the narrator. You'll hear that the "wood is produced from certified forests", and that "the transport distances to the production units are minimal", and that "all harvesting work is done on a long-term development principle". That heat from the veneering process is captured and re-used in other processes. And that "continuous internal and external quality control" is maintained at all times.

Throughout, technology and precision is conveyed as the essen…

Sarah Explains Woodpiles

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Been spending a lot of time around the woodpile lately, and just now ran across a short video entitled "Sarah Explains Woodpiles". My curiosity was peaked as to what exactly there was to explain, so I bit.

So glad I did. In just a few words, Sarah explains the wisdom of the ages with respect to woodpiles...she gets right to the heart of both kinds of people: those who love to build them, and those who love to hate them.

Not sure if the beverage is water or vodka, but Sarah is one inspired Canuck.


What kind of a person are you, really? :-)


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Finished Ski Table

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The ski table is finally complete and I am extremely happy with the results. The project remained the same throughout the building process except for the inclusion of cut pegs for the mortise and tenon joint. I spent somewhere around 4-5 hours each week working on the table also bringing me close to Jackie’s time of 60 hours. All together the project came in around $250 including the wormy maple, oak tiles, stain, polyurethane and inner hardware to make the ski top move. Using rollers for bi-fold doors and cutting a ledge inside the structure, the table top is able to split open. The full design includes a continuous Alpine themed oak border; snowflake cut pegs and a hidden shadow box for ski memorabilia. The real eye catcher though and pride of this project has been the wormy maple legs and structure. After applying the clear coat the grain really started to pop and bring out the Scandinavian feel I was going for.

Check out other details and commentary in the following video!



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Final Jewelry Chest

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Mission accomplished! I have proudly completed my first piece of furniture. There were a few minor changes in my envisioned construction techniques but overall the final design came out exactly the same as I had planned. The final cost of the project came in a little over $430 dollars. I spent about 4 hours a week working on it, making a total of about 60 hours. The final piece has 7 drawers for boxes and individual pieces of jewelry. There are two long doors that each have two rows of five hooks for longer hanging necklaces. The final composition of wood includes: mahogany legs; maple base; oak plywood drawers faced with lacewood; maple frame doors with maple plywood door panels; oak plywood drawer frame; and a maple top. The piece is complete with copper hardware on the doors and drawers that perfectly compliments the lacewood and maple.



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Christmas Shopping Ideas for the Wood-Wise

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If you're thinking about the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone who likes wood as much as you do, I have a few suggestions that will greatly enhance anyone's library.

If I could have only one book to learn about wood, Understanding Wood by Dr. R. Bruce Hoadley would be it. Dr. Hoadley covers the entire breadth of wood science and technology in one straightforward, easy-to-understand, and enjoyable-to-read volume. This is a coffee table book for wood nerds. Filled with excellent, colorful pictures, and simple diagrams and charts, this book makes wood science accessible to anyone. And even the seasoned veterans of woodworking and the wood industry will learn a lot more than expected by spending time in its pages.

A Splintered History of Wood is a joy to spend time with. Author Spike Carlsen has searched the world for the best wood-related stories, and brings them together with an easy-to-read storytelling style that makes it an adventure to move from page to page. He…

Great Designs in Wood (18) - Metropol Parasol

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Here's an interesting design in wood that is really out there. You can get the project details and some excellent pictures of the project at this site, which calls the Metropol Parasol the world's largest wooden structure, which it really isn't...but it's notable, anyway, in many respects.


J. Mayer. H.'s Metropol Parasol, Sevilla, Spain from Pedro Kok on Vimeo.

I found some interesting divergence in opinion about the structure in the comments following the pictures and description at the link above. Here are a few samples:

"How amazing! Stunning pictures and a great illustration of how to make a beautiful city even more attractive!"

"So much wood. Why must we destroy our forests for beauty, especially for a great modern building in a cultural focus. This seems quite perverse. It is a fantastic structure otherwise."

"This is the kind of art I hate. They wasted so many trees to build something completely pointless... They should have used all …

"The World's Most Environmentally-Friendly Raw Material"

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Any idea what it might be? :-)



It's nice to see the pendulum of environmental education swinging back towards sensibility and stewardship. Twenty years ago paper and lumber companies felt compelled to defend the practice of timber harvesting, and students were being taught that "trees were living things, too". But our friends in Europe, especially Scandinavia, have always appreciated the natural value of timber and wood products, including for energy. Now, as we shared in previous green building posts such as this, their leadership in wood utilization and its role in design for sustainability are greatly needed, and much appreciated.


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Thanksgiving Thoughts

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The wood stove is once again fired up and calling you to pay attention to it.

You sense an urge to make something out of wood for the season.

The short days call you outside to enjoy the chilly warmth of the sun riding low in the southern sky.

The trees, now bare of leaves, reveal hillsides and vistas that they have hidden safely from your eyes during the past three seasons. You notice trees that you never saw before, and marvel at their shapes that had been covered by their foliage. You begin to think of sources for next year's firewood.

You decide to split more wood even though you have enough for the season. The ax handle feels right in your hands at this time of year, and the cool air refreshes your lungs with every swing.

The crows watch you from the treetops, and mock you as you miss a split. You look up at them and wonder if they're really that smart. They laugh some more.

You walk around, noticing the bark and the stems of trees, and mentally checking them off in your …

Gibson and the Lacey Act, Explained

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I just read the best explanation of the US government's proceedings against Gibson Guitar. If you are interested in the topic, and especially if you import wood or use products that are made from imported wood, you need to read it too. Written by Dan Meyer of the Hardwood Review, it lays out eight "lessons" that we in the wood products industry need to understand about the rapidly-changing world of the global wood trade.

Good Intentions Gone Wrong? Lacey Act Lessons from the Gibson Guitar Raid

In a related editorial, editor Chaille Brindley of Pallet Enterprise adds his own thoughts on the controversy that seems to have much larger implications than when it first brought wood products to the national consciousness a couple of months ago.

Don’t Fret Over It.... Gibson Guitar Case Raises Green Questions

My friends in the wood import/export business tell me that the issue of mislabeling wood imports, whether intentional or not, has been a cultural component of the business fo…

Housing the World

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You may remember the post we had about the tall wooden buildings, and perhaps you were surprised, and wondering why, that wood buildings were making an architectural comeback. Well, it has to do with the concept of carbon sequestration of wood in structures, under the recognition of the coming need for housing in the developing countries of the world. Remember the Ghost Cities of China? If architect Michael Green had been involved in their design, they would have been built of wood.

Listen to his compelling story in support of Going Wood.




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When Wood Went to War...the Patrol Torpedo Boats

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Veterans Day, one of my favorite holidays...some of my favorite people and role models were vets, and I think of them every year on this day.

Wood played a big role in World War II. Gun stocks by the millions, wooden hangars, and temporary housing and facilities all over the world. But the most memorable contribution of wood to the war effort came in the form of Patrol Torpedo boats, or PT boats. You've probably seen PT-109 that recalls the war heroics of John F. Kennedy, or the classic They Were Expendable, starring John Wayne. If you're as old as me, you grew up watching Ernie Borgnine and Tim Conway zoom around in McHale's Navy, long before their rise to fame as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob SquarePants.

What they all had in common was the lowly PT boat. These boats didn't look imposing, didn't look comfortable, didn't look safe in the middle of a war, and didn't even look respectable for an accomplished Navy captain to stand in. But any Navy…

Logging the Redwoods back in the Good Old Days

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I love old documentaries; they give us a great window into the way life used to be, much more realistically than the old Hollywood movies. This video shows the redwood logging and sawmilling process back in 1947. I wonder what these guys were paid, and bet it wasn't enough. Lot's of fresh air, though.

Watch for those pieces of lumber as they come off the saw. Unbelievable.

Oh, and be sure to catch the comment around the 6-minute mark... "...but thousands of years ago, they were to be found throughout Europe and Asia. They grew in countries that are now cold, but were at one time warm...places like Alaska, Iceland, and Greenland."

So, an upside to Global Warming...more redwoods! Hey, sounds nice.



If you're interested in the redwoods and would like to know more about their history and the economics of the redwood industry, take the time to read this excellent 1965 lecture given by Dr. John Zivnuska, who was dean of the School of Forestry at the University of Califo…

More on Guitar Wood and Manufacturing - Gibson, Martin, and Yamaha

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You may recall the post on the trouble Gibson ran into when an US Fish & Wildlife SWAT team raided their factory to confiscate computers, guitars, and especially Indian Rosewood components that the government claimed was was in violation of the Lacey Act. Gibson's CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has been a frequent, public and vocal defendant of his company's wood procurement practices, as you can see, for example in the following video of just a few weeks ago...



Mr. Juszkiewicz seems to be admitting that there may have been some "clerical mistakes" on the product identification...let's hope that's all it is, and that Gibson is alone in this particular error, so that this issue doesn't spill over into our other U.S. guitar manufacturing companies. If you would like to sign a petition of support for Gibson, and to resolve this Lacey Act issue, you can do so here.

Well, that previous post has made it to the top of the list as Go Wood's most popular post, pass…

IFQRG, Port Botany, AQIS...and Giant Snails

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As I mentioned before, the primary purpose of my trip to Australia was to speak to the members of the International Forestry Quarantine Research Group on the work we're conducting on various phytosanitary treatment of wooden pallets. For those unfamiliar with this issue, here it is in a nutshell:

Countries around the world have agencies dedicated to the attempt to stop, or at least slow, the transfer of non-native plant and animal pest species from one country to another. Pests and diseases caused by them, such as Chestnut blight, Dutch Elm disease, gypsy moths, Emerald Ash borer, Asian Long-horned beetles, Pinewood nematodes, and many, many others are all pests that came into this country at one time or another, usually in the importation of commercial goods, or the transplanting of non-native nursery stock. Pest scientists have dedicated the last century to helping governments identify these potential pests and putting in place treatment and quarantine measures to help reduce th…

Jacqueline's Jewelry Chest: The Base

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I completed the base this week. I used 1” thick maple and cut it into 3” wide strips for the frame. I mitered the edges and used a biscuit jointer to attach the entire frame. I then attached two more 3” strips to the inside of the frame in order to support the frame of the drawers that will sit on top. To attach these strips to the frame I used pocket screws.
I then attached the mahogany legs to the bottom of the frame using pocket screws again. Finally I added a ½” thick by 2” wide maple skirt around the outside of the legs to give the base a clean finish.And last but not least…. SPOIL ALERT…. I couldn’t help myself but to mock assemble all of the pieces so far. Here is a sneak peak of what the final product should look like!




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Firewood and Forest Pests

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It's the time of year when we're all scrambling for a little  more firewood because we didn't get quite enough over the summer. I always try to get my wood as close as possible to my home, if not off my own lot, but then again, I live in central Pennsylvania where wood is everywhere.  Many of you folks live the cozy life in cities made famous by pro sports franchises (ok, I'm a little jealous), and you need to go a ways if you buy or collect a large amount of firewood.

If you do, the USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) wants you to limit your firewood transportation to a maximum of fifty miles. So much so, that they made this video just for you...


...at least, they made it for somebody. And lest you laugh, consider that this video has won an award! From the website of The Nature Conservancy:
"As fall settles in across the country, cords of wood are being stacked and fireplaces, wood burning stoves and campfires are ablaze. There’s a romance to…

Ski Table Legs

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For this week I focused in on the detail, or at least the beginnings, of the coffee table legs. After using the CNC Router last week, I used a hand router to curve the edges and give a smoother look to the legs. Following this, I inserted a different bit into the router to cut the mortise for the mortise and tenon support joint. Since the mortise is located in the center of the leg, I had to use the hand router over other machinery in wood shop. Next week I will begin work on the tenon to be inserted between the two legs. The part of the tenon that extends past the legs will need to be smaller than the center to provide support and so the joint works properly.

I forgot to mention in the last post that a groove has been cut in the top of the legs to allow for the laser cut tile inlay that will be added in the later stages.


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