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Showing posts from 2012

The End of the Beginning

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2012. It was to be, according to an obscure piece of stone tablet, the end. Many people around the world bought into the idea of our world ending in one big cataclysmic event, and many more made some money by selling the idea. I wish I had invested in the dehydrated food business about ten years ago.

But most people just waited for December 21st to pass, and then shrugged.

Like so many other things, 2012 turned out to be more bark than bite.  A much anticipated national election resulted in, well, not much of anything. As did elections in other parts of the world. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Unrest here, oppression there, and not enough money to go around. Never has been, never will be.

But things have been especially tough lately, not just in the wood and building industries, but in most of the industries, countries, and homes of the world. The few things that have upward trends (US housing, lumber prices, Chinese and Indian standards of living, etc.) started…

Wood Science 101 (7) - Water Movement in a Tree

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Well, now we know...how a tree sucks up all that water...and what happens to it.



While focusing on the physical process of water movement, this intelligent young man mentioned that this process is what biologists call "transpiration".  Wikipedia explains transpiration in excellent and concise detail and complements the video nicely.

My favorite part of the video comes at the 6:00 mark; we get to watch the moment when he "gets it."

This video is a great demonstration on how the process of education is being changed by technology and social networks.  Give students a challenge, a computer, internet access, a network of smart friends (like Jeff Wartluft, who shared this video) and teachers to chat with. The education will take care of itself, to the degree of motivation and capability of the challengers and the challenged.

Aren't we all students now, really?

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

Most Promising Wood Industry Story of 2012

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What is it? According to Time Magazine, it's The Great Housing Rebound of 2012.
"Without a doubt, the U.S. housing market has been the most successful sector of the economy this year, and Wednesday’s Case-Shiller home price index report — which showed a fifth consecutive month of year-over-year increases in home prices nationwide — was a late Christmas present for homeowners across the country.The housing market “bottom” was one of the biggest business stories of 2012. After years of falling home values, the data clearly showed that the bleeding stopped somewhere in the first part of 2012, and that home prices have actually begun to slowly rise since then. In addition, other indicators like housing starts, new home sales, and foreclosure statistics all point toward a healing housing sector. These dynamics have gotten some economists and market analysts excited about the growth prospects for the U.S. economy in 2013. Robert Johnson, director of economic analysis for Morningstar…

Santa's Sleigh Damaged; GoWood Team Moves in To Save Christmas

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Earlier this week it was reported to GoWood headquarters that a problem had developed at the North Pole. The venerable old sleigh of Santa Claus, conveyor of jovial jiggle and childish cheer, had developed a structural problem that endangered the delivery of millions of gifts world-wide.

It was discovered on the routine pre-Christmas Eve shakedown flight Santa takes  in early December. Somewhere over central England, the oldest elf noticed a slight vibration...followed by a violent shake, and a loud crrrrraack, then snap.

"It was quite an impossible situation for a few moments," said Santa, shaken but not stirred by the incident. "The sleigh veered out of control, and the reindeer were thrown asunder like bowling pins on a Friday night. Rudolph's nose, fortunately, switched into high mode, and we were able to land roughly, but safely, near a mall in the merry olde town of Leicester.

Startled citizens of the town rushed to unhitch the dazed reindeer, which were led a…

Great Designs in Wood (36) - The Kamppi Chapel of Silence

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When it comes to unusual, and creative, uses of wood, you have to hand it to the Finns. It seems that their culture causes their mental juices to flow naturally to wood as a first solution for just about everything you can think of...and some that you never would. Such as a chapel of...silence. That's right, the good citizens of Helsinki constructed an edifice of wood which has silence as its primary function. You go in, sit, or walk around, look at the wood, and...look at the wood.


In this case, you'd be looking at glue-laminated spruce from the hinterlands of Finland.

"The most prominent space of the building is a timber constructed 11.5 metres high sacral space. It creates a calm space, in which the lively surroundings seem distant: the defining elements include indirect light flowing down from above and the warm timber surfaces on the walls and fittings. The total area of the chapel building is 270 square metres housing the sacral space, an information lounge and spa…

O, Christmas Tree

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There was a time, before Christmas tree plantations and plastic trees from China, when all the trees sold in cities were "natural" trees, grown of their own initiative and independence. Buyers from the city traveled into the country to acquire them from farmers who often had no choice but to sell them. The poet Robert Frost told of one such encounter in 1920.



 I had a chance last week to sit down with Dr. Henry Gerhold, a retired Penn State forestry professor who spent his entire career of over 50 years primarily researching Christmas trees. Henry earned his doctorate at Yale University studying the discoloration of Christmas trees in New Hampshire in the late 1940’s, and his work brought him to the attention of Dr. William C. Bramble, who had been studying Christmas trees here at Penn State since the Great Depression.

It was in the Depression that real interest in Christmas plantations and tree species started developing. President Roosevelt had created an agency called th…

Real Firewood Stacking

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If you're nice and cozy by your wood stove, and feeling good about your own energy and stamina in splitting and piling all that wood for the winter, then good for you. But don't get too impressed by your own firewood prowess until you consider these Herculean efforts.

Remember the holzhaus(en) we discussed back in September? Well, those were woodpiles that mere mortals would build. But real wood users need a real stack of wood, one to be proud of. And the young lady below certainly can be proud of her woodpiles, and whoever built them.



No need to stop at two when you're stacking big woodpiles. You never know how long it might snow, especially if you live near the Arctic Circle...



Of course, stacking wood is always better with a partner - especially if you're building a pile that endangers local air traffic.



And there just is no better way to display your national pride than building a wood stack flagpole.



Of course, you can always stay practical with your wood-stacking …

Great Designs in Wood (35) - The Phoebe Table

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Wow. This table is more proof that unique innovations in design can, and frequently will, include wood to make them special. The Phoebe Table is the masterpiece of Mr. Bob Huskey of Saturn Design in Seattle.
"The Phoebe Table is composed of up to 24 crescent leaves plus a round Terminus for open shapes that can be set on each other within a 30 degree range of arc. The smallest circle is 60” diameter with 12 leaves, the largest is 90” with 24 leaves. It is 18’ long and 30” wide as a straight line with all 24 leaves. There are 30 legs available."View the rest of the design document here.

And these are his thoughts about the mahogany veneer he used to highlight his creation...
"The top is veneered with quartersawn mahogany that is highly chatoyent with a subtle crossfire. I came across it 15 years ago and have been saving it for a piece worthy of its beauty. Each crescent leaf, as well as the terminus, is veneered as though it were a starburst radial patern. This patern orig…

Great Designs in Wood (34) - The Cascade Timber Frame Home

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If you're familiar with timber frame home design, you won't be surprised by the awe-inspiring home you're about to see. If you're not, be prepared for an onrush of envy.


Courtesy: PrecisionCraft Log and Timber Homes
Wikipedia has a nice introduction to timber framing...
"Timber framing and "post-and-beam" construction is a general term for building with heavy timbers rather than "dimension lumber" such as 2"x4"s. Traditional timber framing is the method of creating structures using heavy squared off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs (larger versions of the mortise and tenon joints in furniture). It is commonplace in wooden buildings from the 19th century and earlier. The method comes from making things out of logs and tree trunks without modern high tech saws to cut lumber from the starting material stock. Using axes, adzes and draw knives, hand powered auger drill bits (bit and brace), a…

Thoughts about "Invasive" Species

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"Chuck – What would be nicer than being able to utilize invasive species for some good?  Here are some examples with Autumn Olive.  Of course Norway Maple and Tree of Heaven have been used successfully for firewood for years.  I have also used Autumn Olive and Honeysuckle Bushes for firewood.  I recently read how delicious Autumn Olive berries are in pies and fruit candy.  And there is a local beekeeper who praises the flowering schedule of Japanese Knotweed.  He even offers a Japanese Knotweed honey.  The bowls and firewood (except the bottom front) in the photos are Autumn Olive.Have a memorable Christmas,
Jeff Wartluft
Jeff has proven the old adage that one man's trash is another's treasure. The plates pictured are beautiful, and the AO firewood will burn just dandy.



Pretty nice for a species that many land managers would like to exterminate. Maryland Master Gardener Ellen Nibali explains why in the video below. Her complaints are: that the Autumn Olive is too successfu…

Ten of the most unusual wooden products ever made

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Here's a link to a nice article we like to see reported in the mass media. 
One2ten - Ten of the most unusual wooden products ever made - E & T Magazine
It shows ten items the article authors considered to be unusual uses of wood. We at Go Wood know that almost anything you can make, we can make better with wood. One great example is the Vespa scooter below.
That's the sort of thing I ought to be puttering to work in. According to the article,
"When you think of scooters it is hard not to think of Mods with flashing chrome and wing mirrors. But this wooden Vespa is handcrafted like fine furniture by Carlos Alberto. He came across a Vespa that was in complete disrepair, so he gutted it and carved a body from wood, which he then coated in a multitude of beautiful steam-moulded veneers with stunning results."  The thing that is stunning to me is the amount of time and love that woodworkers put into their work. Visit the article to be equally stunned by nine other ite…

Hardwood Lumber Drying

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As the economy improves, are you ready to supply the market with the best quality kiln dried lumber?Do you want to better control your drying and quality cost?Can you improve and better manage your drying and lumber handling options?

Hardwood lumber drying is an art that builds on a foundation of wood science. It's a lot more complicated than it looks, and a ton of lumber value has been flushed down the toilet by seat-of-the-pants kiln operators. Every serious hardwood lumber company that I'm aware of sends their kiln operators to drying schools on a regular basis. And one of the best schools still in existence is the one taught every January by Dr. Bill Smith and his associates at the State University of New York in Syracuse.

If you're already in the hardwood industry and want to sharpen your skills, or you're thinking of getting into the custom lumber drying business (yes, there is a market for that), you should consider attending the SUNY-ESF kiln drying workshop. Y…

Git 'er Done

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Time to get back in the woods. Jump in the cab, slam the door shut, rev the engine...and get to work harvesting aspen trees like they are asparagus. The following video from the forest equipment manufacturer Eltec shows you how precise and efficient woods-working is getting to be. And what it feels like to have real raw power at your disposal.



Of course, there is power and there is power. Here's the John Deere 1470E harvester in action, with a background of blues rock to really get the adrenalin pumping.



One more video, this one from TigerCat. It contains some excellent footage of harvesting in large Eucalyptus plantations, and they mention that their harvesters can take on 8-inch Eucalyptus in Brazil at the rate of over 600 trees per hour. Not bad. The nice thing about this video is that it provides you with a lot of detail about the different types of equipment used in harvesting operations, and the capabilities of each. And nice video from operations all around the Southern Hem…

Go Wood (Pellets)

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I haven't mentioned wood pellet heating much on Go Wood, since I'm a firewood devotee. But wood pellet stoves are the renewable energy heating solution for folks who want to go green with their heating, but just aren't into splitting and stacking, or don't have room to store firewood. Wood pellets are wood chips, particles, and sawdust that are refined to the proper size and shape and then extruded into pellets, the size of which are optimized for flow and feeding into the combustion chamber of the pellet stove.

My new friend Dr. Christian Rakos at Pro Pellets Austria, who is also the President of the European Pellet Council, is featured in the following video, and suggests in it that the pellet market in Europe will grow from its current level of 10 million metric tons per year to over 100 million metric tons within ten years. In order to encourage this level of adoption by European heating consumers, the Europeans have put their heads together and produced a pellet …

The Best is Yet to Come

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I've been reading a book lately written in 2001 by Howard T. and Elisabeth C. Odum, called "A Prosperous Way Down". The title refers to a concept of managing global resources through the inevitable economic decline we're all about to endure. I'm studying Dr. Odom's formulation of an environmental metric called Emergy as an alternative to Life-Cycle Analysis...I'll talk a little more about Emergy in a future post or two.

For now, though, on the day after our election, it seems appropriate to describe the world into which we seem to be descending. Dr. Odum explains...
"Like a  giant train, the world economy is slowly cresting its trip up the mountain of growth. It may be ready soon for its long trip down to a more sustainable level. The developed nations that were leading on the way up are poised for leading again, but this time down... Precedents from ecological systems suggest that global society can turn down and descend prosperously, reducing assets…

Great Designs in Wood (33) - Metamorphosis 1

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The nice thing about researching advances in wood utilization is that, contrary to what most people think, the world of wood use is ever-changing and advancing. We've talked a lot about that in the realm of bioenergy, but it's just as true in the world of wood construction.

The Metamorphosis house of Tunquén,Casablanca, Chile is an example of how home owners and their architects are re-thinking how they use wood to relate to their environment.

This stunning project is a 2007 remodel of a home built in 1990.  It was pretty nice for that time, but looking dated. Architects José Ulloa Davet and Delphine Ding changed that by retrofitting the home with a new skin, a ventilated wooden facade. This was a new concept to me, and a little research on Wikipedia reveals that the general concept falls under a heading of rainscreen cladding, which is...
"...the attachment of an outer skin of rear-ventilated cladding to a new or existing building. The system is a form of double-wall cons…