Showing posts from September, 2011

Mescaleros and the Tree Party Rebellion

Last weekend, I ran across this interesting article...

A Tree Party Rebellion by Marita Noon

I suggest a full reading of the article. Here are, I think, the essential points...

"For the past 20 years, since the Mexican Spotted Owl was listed as an endangered species, New Mexico’s forests have become overgrown. Thousands of jobs were lost, sawmills closed up. Fires became wild. study done earlier this year by the USFS’s Pacific Research Station, and validated by work done by Sandia National Laboratories, shows that the healthiest forests in the arid climate of the Southwest have approximately 50 trees per acre. Many of the forests in the Southwest have as many as 2,500 trees per acre. Forest management practices that aim to restore owl habitat, rather than that of an overall healthy forest, have contributed to increased fuel loads and fire severity. ...The nearby forests of the Mescalero Tribe provide a case study on forest management. Rather than following USFS policy, they manag…

Matt and Jaqueline go lumber shopping

Last week, Matt and Jacqueline visited Lewis Lumber Products of Picture Rocks, PA. There they were greeted by Mr. Keith Atherholt, president and co-owner of LLP and lumber salesman extraordinaire.

Their task was to examine some alternatives for the raw materials for their projects and to decide what wood(s) they will use. Mr. Atherholt gave them an interesting introduction to some of the woods in his store. Their primary reaction was, wow, there are a lot more choices than the Big Box store!

A quick view of the video below will assure you that yes, if you want selection in your next wood project, a trip to the local or regional lumberyard may be more rewarding than the quick trip to the Box, even if you have to drive a ways to get there.

Matt and Jackie will report in their next blog posts on their wood selections, and some background information on the species selected.

Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Meet Jacqueline and Matt, Penn State Furniture Designers

I mentioned that I have two architecture students doing "independent studies" for credit this semester. I'd like to introduce them and their projects to you.

Matt Fink
Ski Coffee Table
For W P 496 I will be constructing a wood coffee table while using reclaimed skis in the design. I plan on using more advanced woodworking techniques and mechanics so the table can open up to a smaller hidden compartment. For this class I will be submitting weekly posts to Dr. Ray’s blog for discussion and to track my progress.
Design: Due to a limited budget I will be using mostly pine wood for the construction but this also helps with the larger pieces that need to be cut (close to two feet wide). The table will consist of a two-leg construction with three horizontal support pieces. The support pieces will be attached using mortise and tenon joints. On the top of the table, along two of the supports, will rest the ski tabletop. These skis will rest along tracks within the supports allowing th…

Winter Energy Planning Time

September's cool winds (like that 106-degree breeze they had yesterday in Dallas) get us to thinking about heating the home again. Here in the northeastern U.S., that means another winter of fretting about home heating oil prices. A quick check with my local supplier revealed that a 575-gallon fill up will cost me $2,012.45 at $3.499 a gallon. Assuming that price holds, and I fill up twice this winter like usual, I'm facing a $4,000 - $5,000 heating bill for winter 2011. Gulp.

Well, what are my alternatives? Tune up the old boiler for another year, and turn down the thermostat? Upgrade to a new oil boiler, hoping for higher efficiency? Try to take advantage of the glut of natural gas in the North American marketplace (currently $0.99 per hundred cubic feet, or CCF, in State College) by purchasing a new natural gas boiler? Or back up my Go Wood mission with conviction, and purchase a wood-fueled boiler?  Forget the boiler, just purchase a two or three pellet stoves to go with m…

Great Designs in Wood (17) - The London Olympic Velodrome

If you haven't seen or heard about the velodrome built for the 2012 London Olympics, you're in for a treat. This stunning building, completed earlier this year, has been winning rave reviews from around the world for its exterior beauty, of which the primary impact are the swooping lines of Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) that form the basic shape of the stadium.

In an excellent review of the structure, architecture writer Hugh Pearman writes:
"It is sheathed in timber – Western Red Cedar - on the outside as a reminder of the track itself which is made of long thin strips of Siberian pine nailed together. It’s like some Futurist vision of speed and movement, this twisting loop of track, somehow all the better for being made in such a hand-crafted way. I looked underneath the track (strictly out of bounds usually), to find that it is supported by big wooden zig-zag joists of the kind you’d more usually find in your attic." Once again the appeal of wood is explained …

Social housing in China

More on the Chinese housing industry. You will recall the "Ghost Cities" we talked about earlier this year...Goldman Sachs analyst Helen Zhu explains in this excellent short video series how the housing market in China developed over the past decade...and how it may develop over the next.

Goldman Sachs | Global Economic Outlook - Highlights from "Social housing - A new growth focus"

Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Great Designs in Wood (16)

Returning from a meeting in the Penn State Department of Architecture, I noticed this table in the main entrance hall. It caught my eye because I thought I saw Southern Pine, the wood dearest to my East Texas heart.
Shur 'nuff, it was southern yellow pine, in a creation that I had never seen the likes of back in my East Texas days. I have seen plenty of pine tables, mostly built with pine boards picnic-table style. But this one shows what a little creativity brings out in even the most common of our woods.
Moving closer to inspect, it became apparent that the designer had utilized the beautiful asymmetrical growth rings that always fascinated me in my youth. These rings speak so many things to us of the life of the tree...its age, its growth rate, its bouts with diseases and drought...generally, its good years and bad. And this designer had captured the living story of these trees in the table top itself.
The center part of the table is simply cut-off ends of pine two-by-fours, notch…

Sign of the Times

We made note back in June that these are tough times for ethanol ventures. In that article, we mentioned that a publicly-subsidized ethanol venture in Clearfield, PA had taken a temporary shutdown due to market conditions.

Since that time, the plant has been closed permanently and filed for bankruptcy.

All of which prompted some gallows humor...

Let's hope the silver lining is that future politicians will weigh more carefully the potential risks of public investments, especially with regard to future energy options.

Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD