Showing posts from October, 2012

The OneOak Project of Britain

Watching the footage of the downed trees from Hurricane Sandy, I found myself mentally drifting from the plight of the poor folks to thinking of all the nice lumber that is about to be harvested, and hopefully, sawn into lumber. (I know, bad...but honest!) I was reminded of the story of the OneOak project in the UK. Although not a tree downed in a storm, the OneOak was an historic old monarch that was harvested as part of an educational effort. And what great wood it produced.

The Sylva Foundation in the United Kingdom states its mission as "reviving Britain's wood culture", which is a sentiment most readers of Go Wood will sympathize with and support. The Foundation has an excellent website dedicated to the project, which you can visit here.
From the outset, the incentive of the Sylva Foundation has been to bring people closer to the importance of woodlands and of wood in modern society. With this in mind, the felling, in January 2010, was witnessed by 250 school childr…

Whatever happened to Climate Change?

I heard an interesting statistic on the presidential debates last week. All together, there were over 50,000 words spoken by the candidates at the four debates. Some were interesting, others, not so much. But there was a glaring omission in all the debates...the phrases global warming and climate change weren't mentioned, not even once, by any of the candidates. Somewhat surprising, since "green" initiatives have been a cornerstone of President Obama's administration, and issues like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Solyndra, and the proposed Canadian oil pipeline through the Midwest have raised awareness of the issues to probably their highest level in the consciousness of the average American.

Why not, if so many people are tuned in to the subject? You would think that each side would want to take their own high ground and exploit the other side's weaknesses. The answer is, the climate issue has become dangerous ground for both sides. And that is becau…

Great Designs in Wood (32) - The Martian Embassy

Something to lighten up your weekend. The "Martian Embassy" in Australia was creatively designed as a story-writing space for young writers. Plywood members cut and routered to resemble the inside of a whale stimulate the imagination while keeping the whole space warm and light.

See and read more about it here...

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

The James Craig of Sydney

My last evening in Australia was spent in Sydney harbor, touring the waterfront and sampling the local fare and grogs. In the process, I managed to squeeze in a tour of the tall ship James Craig. The ship was salvaged off the coast of New Zealand and restored to immaculate sailing condition by a dedicated group of tall ship aficionados. While the ship is an iron-sided barque, not a wooden ship like our own U.S.S. Constitution,  it featured some magnificent woodwork in the restoration.

I was privileged to receive an (almost) private tour from one of the ship's owners. I captured the entire tour on video, and although the video quality is spotty, the audio is pretty good throughout and the guide tells a wonderful story full of details. The entire video is fifty minutes long, so if you're only interested in seeing the wood species used in the reconstruction, you can skip ahead to the 35-minute mark and watch from there. At about that point, I'm embarrassed by not being able …

More highlights of New South Wales

While my posts last year and last week focused on the woods, timber industry, and phytosanitary aspects of life in New South Wales, Australia, I skipped over many other little things that made it seem so different from North America. I'll try to share the best of the rest here in this post, and I'll conclude in the next post with a  memorable video tour of a very special piece of nautical trade history.
First let me pick up where I left you in the last post,  at the operation of T. Davis Milling in Wandandian, in the company of Ms. Leith Davis. As you may have picked up if you watched the video of the tour of the early twentieth-century sawmill, Ms. Davis is a historian and author who has focused not just on the forest industry but environmental issues, and her perspective on timbering and forestry are quite interesting. In the following video (which does not show her at her request) we have a discussion about timber supplies and forest management, especially with the interve…

Wood Science 101 (6) - Nanocellulose

I'm frequently asked what modern "wood science" is all about, in the context of what industry is interested in right now. Well, the big money has been going into "nanotechnology" research for at least a decade now. The old days of "wood science" are pretty much over, as those who are investigating topics such as the one you'll see in the following videos consider themselves to be scientists in "materials science", "microbiology", or some other such thing that seem to be something distinct from our concept of wood.

And that's OK. The message I get from this trend is that the miracle we call a tree will continue to provide humanity with products that we can't even imagine today. And even as it does, we will still have solid wood as a fundamental material in our lives. Nice to think of.

Here's a fascinating industry video that shows where we've been, and what the path forward is.

And here's a simple article (si…

Australian Timber Industry, Re-visited

One year ago this weekend I was winging my way towards Australia. It occurred to me to go back and look through my pictures and videos of the trip to see if there was anything interesting that I failed to share with you. And there is.

First, I never really did give you a good report on the timber producers of New South Wales. And the picture of this crew reminded me of a nice place. This is T. Davis Milling in Wandandian, New South Wales. It is a small timber outfit that mills a little timber (we call it lumber), cuts pallet stock, and makes a little firewood. All at a leisurely pace. A nice place to slow down and get to know some folks.

The three fellows in the picture were mill hands, and a little gruff as mill hands tend to be. I was a little concerned I might wind up as gator bait out behind the mill, at first. But they put up with me at tea, offered me some of their meal...and the younger fellow, the one with the hard hat, actually offered me a place to stay for the night if I n…