Showing posts from May, 2013

Tracking Climate Change with Trees

Did you know that wood is playing a primary role in the scientific study and debate of climate change? Tree rings, to be specific, are leading scientists to understand the climatic variation over the years as recorded by the size of the rings. This British chap explains the basic concept pretty well in a not-too-scientific way...

As the good fellow mentioned in the video above, the science of studying history through tree rings is called "dendrochronology". It's a fascinating field of study that allows scientists to investigate a whole range of things based on the tree ring data provided by wood from living or dead trees, lumber from ships or structures, or even panels on which old paintings were made.

Here is a nice video of a team of scientists working in the Rocky Mountains of Montana to collect and analyze tree ring data to add to our growing knowledge of climate variation. It has some excellent detail of the tree boring and ring measurement processes. As you know if…

Great Designs in Wood (43) - The Violin (part 2)

I was just browsing through the latest edition of World of Wood, which is the bi-monthly publication of the International Wood Collectors Society, the group I visited and joined earlier this year. About half way through the edition, I ran across an article about violin woods, originally written in 1958 by Dr. W. Mautz of Oburursel, Germany. I had read a lot about the famous violins and their wood, but this piece by Dr. Mautz has some fascinating insights I had not seen before. Many thanks to the kind folks at IWCS who have allowed me to re-print the article here. I've slightly edited the text...
"The most famous of European violinmakers who pride themselves for carrying on the tradition of the great past masters of their craft - such as for instance: Stradivarius, Amatius and Guarnerius - and whose ancestors have been devoted to making violins for many generations and several centuries still use the same classical materials which once went into the making of a highly prized, f…

Jay Leno Goes Wood

Well, the Chrysler minivan in the last post reminded me that though the modern family conveyors might not go so well with wood, they certainly did back in the heyday of the automobile. I've already posted some nice pictures of various "woodies", but here is a video from "Jay Leno's Garage" of one of the best of the best, the 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible. This beauty has been resto-modded, which means it has been "restored with modification", but the woodwork is original. The video tells a great story of the durability of wood; they had to replace most of the metal floor due to rust, but the wood was still solid.

Jay wins an honorary "Woodie Award" for correctly identifying the wood panels as mahogany, and he showed some real appreciation of how to work with and maintain the wood. Unfortunately, the fellow who restored the vehicle thinks the panels are walnut, and sort of throws Jay for a loop for a minute. You would think t…

Canadian Conversion Logging Vehicle

The world of loggers and logging is a slightly crazy one. You have to hold a different set of values than the rest of the world to even think about being a logger. I remember sitting around the campfire as a kid and listening to my Grandpa telling stories of driving the log truck for the family mill, and needless to say, modern action movies seem dull by comparison. Those stories were reinforced in my memory by watching one-chain wonders rolling down the East Texas highways with bald tires and the trailer swaying from side to side as the rig passed me going about 75 in a 55. I always backed off a little.

Which is not to say that all loggers are nuts; they're, well, just a little different than the rest of us.

A fairly good example of the mindset is displayed for us by the Crazy Canadian Woodworker, Paul Moore, in the following video. Unfortunately, Paul reinforces the negative stereotype of Canadian woodfolk as put forward by Sarah. But eh, I think his video displays a level of in…

Fun in the Mud

Here's an entertaining and highly informative field presentation by Penn State plant scientist Art Gover, who is speaking on and demonstrating actions he and his team are taking to reclaim some streamside acreage from the tenacious invader reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea). Over the course of the talk Art touches on the site treatment, and other topics diverse as impact of deer and elk, different tree species planted on the site, plant succession regimes, and other problems such as tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) which he addresses for the last five minutes of the talk. Art has a great folksy way of teaching fairly technical biology, and we all had a few chuckles here.

I shot the video ten days ago at a forest landowners conference in Central Pennsylvania, so those of you in other places around the world can spend thirty minutes in springtime Pennsylvania with a great teacher, if you care to.

This is a really tough struggle for landowners, as those of you who have eve…

Acting Like Humans

The more times I watch this, the more I see and the better I feel. It's the best of humanity on display, and it sometimes seems to be slipping away. The scenes seem to be something out of the past, something we remember so fondly and took for granted, and miss so much now.

Which is why the young person at the 4:25 mark is so important to me, and to all of us.

Russia doesn't get much good press in the western world, but this video speaks volumes of good about Russians.

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

Japan, Two Years Later

You'll recall from a Go Wood post a year ago the Japanese people were still essentially digging out of the terrible tsunami damage inflicted on their northern coastal cities. It was a poignant reminder that few things in life are more devastating that natural catastrophes...and of the remarkable community spirit and determined will of the Japanese people.

Another year later, and the story is beginning to take on a sober, yet hopeful, turn. Much of the wreckage has been removed, and the rebuilding process has begun to help start the healing. And the fine people of the Canadian wood products industry have stepped up to help that process.

From the Canada Wood Group...
The Canada Wood Group, in partnership with Natural Resources Canada and the Province of British Columbia, are spearheading projects using Canadian wood in the construction of several major community buildings; the first, the Donguri Anne Public Library in Natori was unveiled earlier this year. That building is a hybrid h…

Would You Trade Jobs with This Guy?

Sean Barrows sent me this wonderful video captured and posted by Stuart King, a woodworker and historian from the United Kingdom. It's a visual reminder of days long gone, before electrification, standardization, regulation, and globalization. For centuries, creative folks have figured out the amazing qualities and applications of wood, and how to work it.

This Moroccan street artist makes it look so easy...with his feet and a bow-turned lathe!

If your answer to the post title is "Yes", you need a vacation :-)

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

A Future Creator of Great Designs in Wood

This is a very special week around Penn State for about 10,000 young folks and their families. They'll fill a jam-packed Bryce Jordan Arena, listen to a speaker tell them they are the future of the world, and then walk across the stage to collect the prize for which they have been dreaming of and working for so diligently for the past twenty years.

This year, I'm familiar with the story of at least a part of the road traveled by one young lady making that walk this weekend.  Her name is Carol Chang of Houston, Texas, and we share a common start in life...we both attended Robert E. Lee High School in southwest Houston.

In late fall of 2007, I found myself on the road in Texas for several business appointments, one of those being an invitation to speak to a couple of wood shop classes at my alma mater. I had an interest in the WoodLINKS program, which is an industry effort to reach out to and support woodworking education in local high schools. It turned out Lee had a wood shop …