The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where there's NO smoke, there may be trouble...

This article seems to report that the Chinese are moving quickly and proactively to harness bioenergy. These two paragraphs, in particular, caught my attention.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More on the Ghost Cities of China

Both the article linked to in the last post, and my own presentation shared some time back, mention the Ghost Cities of China, and how the world's economy seems to hang on their outcome. If you doubt the seriousness of this issue, the following video from the Australian TV show SBS Dateline may help you grasp the problem the Chinese government faces.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Log and Lumber Demand in China

Here's a great article from the folks at Industrial Reporting on how log and lumber demand in China is helping to replace the business we're losing here in the United States due to the ongoing slump in our housing industry. It's at least a glimmer of hope for our softwood and hardwood lumber companies, who will be able to move some of their product overseas. Not so good for our homebuilders, or furniture and cabinet companies, who will have to pay raw material prices inflated by the Chinese demand.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Designs in Wood (7)

Well, the video in the last posting sparked a lot of feedback with ideas for A Day Made of Wood video...I'll get started on shooting footage. In the meantime, Andy Toombs of Lumbermens Merchandising Corporation sent me a great video to give me something to shoot for.

This will be hard to top.

The thing I love about the video is that is really communicates that esoteric quality of wood that most people intuitively understand, but few can put into words. It has all the elements...wood, water, light, forest, wildlife, kinetic energy...and it ends with a wood product. Perfect!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Size Matters

I cringe when I see the announcements of mega-biomass plants, those 50 megawatts and up.  First of all, the PR can be a nightmare, as city planners in Southhampton, UK are finding out. The vision can be great...
"The electricity generating station would be fed by up to 800,000 tonnes of fuel, mostly wood, and Helius says it would produce enough electricity for 200,000 homes."
But biomass energy is better delivered as heat to 200,000 homes via a hundred district heating projects, each serving 2,000 homes, with the best-suited projects producing power to the grid. Or as pellets (or firewood) to individual homes. The visual and environmental footprint of the smaller projects is cleaner, more manageable, and more sensitive to supply and demand fluctuations. And beyond the environmental fears of the community, the long-term supply logistics of mega-plants are increasingly difficult to support, and this problem increases in magnitude exponentially with size. The capital risk of these large projects ensures that they will dominate the regional biomass market, driving up wood costs for smaller, more efficient facilities and any sawmills, pulp mills, pellet mills, or wood panel plants in the area. And ultimately, it ensures that they will fail to deliver on expectations, and give biomass energy a black eye.

Big power is better suited to more energy-dense feedstock, such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear. Smaller is better when it comes to biomass energy.  Come over and sit with me in front of my wood stove sometime, and we'll discuss it over a couple of Yuenglings; that's as good as it gets.

Great Designs in Wood (4) - The Korean Golf Club House

Wow! Go here to see great glulam beams in Korea.  Glulam beams are produced by steaming, bending, gluing lumber together into the size and shape necessary for the project.  Been done for decades in churches, but architects are getting more imaginative these days. When you see projects done like this, it's easier to imagine futuristic cities in wood, rather than the steel and concrete we've grown used to in sci-fi movies...

We have a great glulam company here in Pennsylvania...RigidPly Rafters in Richland. So if you have a dream, (and a few bucks), you can make it happen!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Now on Twitter

Just starting to figure out this social networking.  Was ruined on it by looking at the wife and kids Facebook accounts...forget that. tmi, as the kids say.  But Twitter seems a little more timely and useful, if you're careful who you follow.

If you're not, you can follow me:  @ChuckDRay  :-)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

E-Tree phone home: Alien encounter pictured in couple's firewood

Here is irrefutable proof that wood holds the key to the universe...

E-Tree phone home: Alien encounter pictured in couple's firewood
28th February 2011
Most people know that counting the rings on a tree trunk tell you how old it is, but one retired couple got a bit more than they bargained for while chopping firewood.
Pete Burford, 72, saw a familiar face staring back at him that reminded him of ET - the famous alien from Steven Spielberg's 1982 movie. The image was ingrained in the trunk of a poplar tree that Pete was chopping at Eldersfield, Gloucestershire.
E-Tree: The couple have kept a piece of the tree that they were chopping for firewood.

Now the couple, of Moat Lane, Staunton, near Tewkesbury, are wondering if extraterrestrials are trying to tell them something.

The tree trunk has large 'eyes' just like ET...

He said: 'It's probably just one of those things, but it so looks like E.T. I couldn't believe it.'

The extraterrestrial experience is not the first for the couple - Mr Burford's wife, Sylvia, had an odd experience 40 years ago. 
She said: 'I saw something that had a saucer shape with a great big bright light underneath.
Asked if he felt aliens might exist, Mr Burford said 'I think there's something out there.'

Spooky, huh?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Great Designs in Wood (3) - The Contemporary Spanish Log Home

When you think of log homes, do you get a mental image of Little House on the Prairie?

 Or Bonanza?

Well, it may be time to update your mental database.  Check out this contemporary log home nestled in the mountains of Spain...

State Wood Heating Scorecard

From time to time, I get inquiries about state incentives and regulations on wood-burning stoves and boilers. I try to keep up with the programs in Pennsylvania, but beyond that is too much work for me.

Fortunately, there is a group keeping tabs for us.