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Showing posts from December, 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…