Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Going Wood for Christmas Cheer

Image
Everyone knows wood comes from trees, right?

But folks around the world have discovered that trees can come from wood! And just in time for Christmas.

If you happen to live near the coast, a driftwood Christmas tree can build holiday memories.



Now, if you live in the rolling hills of Italy, where woodworking is truly a lifestyle passion, you can do a wooden tree, first class.



But here in the States, we have an affinity for making good things from old pallets. Why not a Christmas tree?



This last video was made by a US Army veteran in Tennessee, who is using a GoFundMe effort to build a woodshop for fellow veterans to have a place to chill when not on duty.
"So here is the goal. I'm going to open my home and shop to active duty and vets as a past time program to get them out the house or single soldiers living in the barracks some time to unwind. The goal is to keep them from sitting around and being idle and give them a place to escape that is positive. We would like to be abl…

Wood Scence 101 (21) - The Mystery of Wood and Water

Image
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is holding their annual Kiln Drying Workshop again next month. While the program is considered one of the premier and must-attend workshops for professional hardwood kiln operators, there might be reasons for you to consider a trip to upstate New York in the dead of winter.

As much love for wood as I find out in the world, I also constantly see a great deal of misunderstanding of the issue of wood, water, weathering, mold, rot, warpage, and other moisture-related wood performance issues. Quick story from this weekend at the Ray mansion...I had been given a small gift-size oak barrel several years ago, designed for seasoning a bottle or two of whiskey. I had used it a few times, but made the mistake of trying it for wine (which didn't work well, because the wine needs to be consumed shortly after the bottle is uncorked), and the wine residue tainted the barrel enough so that it was no longer good for further use in seasoning wh…

Art for the Rest of Us

Image
Have you ever been to one of those fancy art museums, looked at a huge splat of paint on the wall, and wondered...what the...?!!!?

If so, then this next video will probably gratify your sense of a true work of art.




Thanks go to Bill for passing this along.

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

Entertaining the Little Ones

Image
No woody stuff today, just a smile and laugh passed on by one of our GoWood friends, Ryszard Szymani, in the spirit of the holiday season. Godere!




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

It's a Small, Small World (of Wood)

Image
By far the best thing about writing this blog is getting personal feedback from Go Wood readers. Yesterday, after the posting of "A Trip to the Mountain Above Turmero", I received two such pieces of feedback...one an interesting modern-day version of a similar trip, and the second a piece of information that could fairly be called an incredible coincidence.

Story One

IWCS member Michael Nee shares his recent encounter with the mountains of Bolivia...
Chuck,
OK, you asked for it. Interesting story from Venezuela. Here's mine.
Saturday (Nov. 14, 2015) we were at Chochis, Bolivia, a little town at the base of a spectacular escarpment, the highest range in the eastern half of the country, at 1245 m (about 3700 ft). We took the dirt road (after eating at places with chickens clucking around begging for bread crumbs) alongside the escarpment to one of the two places where it is possible to climb up.
The weather report was predicting a high for the day of 100 deg F. The first part …

Wood Collecting, Back in Time

Image
I may have mentioned in this space that I started a new blog, World of Wood, based on the archives of a journal of that name published by the International Wood Collectors Society. Today I posted another wonderful old adventure from the days when wood collecting really was an adventure.

And although I usually send the link to the post out only to IWCS members, I thought this one was so nice that I thought it might appeal to a broader audience. From when times were simpler...

A Trip to the Mountain Above Turmero
Enjoy...


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

Winter in the Woods

Image
As things cool off down here in the states, we start dreaming of roasted turkeys and trimming the family Christmas tree. In the back of our minds, though, we're going through the mental checklist of winter preparedness: fresh coolant in the vehicles, firewood cut and stacked, pipes winterized, and salt and shovels at the ready.

But not so tough, compared to winter loggers in the northern reaches of Canada, eh?




These high-quality videos provide excellent detail on the logging process that you don't often get...number of truckloads a day, cost of broken components, how the machines work. They give us a good appreciation of the capital and human investment necessary to keep the front end of the wood products industry humming, when the rest of us are huddled by the fire. Good job, boys.

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

Notes From the Road (2) - The Sound of Music

Image
Had a full week visiting wood plants last week. The best stop was a visit to the Martin Guitar Company in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. You may recall that we took a video tour of the plant as part of a previous Go Wood post.



Well, news is good in Nazareth. Company folks affirmed that yes, the guitar business is booming...so much so, that the company expanded its manufacturing capacity to a new operation in Mexico a few years ago. When a thing is good, it will live on.



Certain things stood out to me as I toured the plant with members of the New England Kiln Drying Association. As one who has been through hundreds of wood operations, and seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, I can tell you...this operation is well-managed. Very well managed. It shows in the plant, and on the faces of the employees as they speak of their work.




In the milling operation, every unit of lumber is clearly identified and quantified.


As components are manufactured, they are tracked with precision through the process…

Back to the Fur for the Future

Image
Here's a great video from 1950 forwarded by Aaron E. out in Oregon, which features, among other great stories, parachuting beavers.

I bet Dylan would love to get a job like this.



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

Humans Need Not Apply

Image
In the last post, we discussed steps that could be taken to "grow" the forest products industry in the Northeastern United States. A group of Northeastern government officials had invited my ideas for growing the industry. One might ask..."why?"

Are the politicians of the region suddenly feeling an urge to increase the profits of an industry that has been politically incorrect for decades in the region? Are they worried that the abundant forest resources of the region are going largely under-utilized? Are they worried that too many cabinets, flooring and furniture pieces are being manufactured in distant locations?

Of course not. They need jobs...to keep their jobs. And the forest products sector is one that once offered hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Northeast...but that number is dropping precipitously. For instance, wood industry employment in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont decreased by one third in the decade from 2003 to 2013. The good news is that th…

Turning the Ship of State

Image
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with the Agriculture sub-committee of state and province representatives at the Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments. Over breakfast, I was able to share with them what I perceived to be actions that would grow the forest and wood products industries in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. They were very cordial and seemed open to the ideas presented, and many follow-up questions were asked.

Here are the bullet points I went over, very quickly, with the group. As you survey the items, please remember that I was not there to give them a run-down on what actions were being taken, or what initiatives are currently being considered or are popular in industry. I approached the development of the list as an accounting matter...that is, what could state and federal governments do that would improve companies' bottom lines, and thereby attract more investment in the industry? What policy actions would generate more i…

Logging of Long-Gone Days

Image
Here's a well-done video compilation of wondrous pictures of the old days of logging and sawmilling. You never get tired of looking at these old photos if you really have wood in the blood.




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

Great Designs in Wood (65) - The Wooden Mosque of Choubin

Image
In this Great Designs series, we've seen wooden temples in China and the great stave churches of Scandinavia. Here's another great example of how wood seems to be a universal medium for expression of spiritual fervor...the wooden mosque of Neishabour, Iran.




The narrator in the video tells us that the builder was...
"using the wood because it is nature. There is something in it, it is not made by a human being; it's made by nature....The trees are producing oxygen, as well as fruit, and of course wood." Just another confirmation that people all over the world recognize wood as "the world's most environmentally-friendly raw material."

So, Go Wood.

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

Butternut Lumber on the Way

Image
Yesterday, when I went home for lunch, I found my drive blocked by a familiar truck. Sure enough, I found my friend, professional logger and tree climber Martin Melville, shimmied up a small butternut (Juglans cinerea) tree in my front yard, just about to crank up the saw. So, with another interesting thing to video, and knowing how nifty Martin is in a tree, I fired up the trusty smartphone and watched him take it down...in about 30 minutes. Amazing.


In the video I say that the tree was killed by the walnut canker disease, which is misleading on my part, because that could be confused with the Thousand Cankers Disease which is wiping out black walnut (Juglans nigra) across the country. The butternut, or white walnut, has been under attack from a different enemy, the butternut canker, and it is that disease to which my tree has succumbed. It suffered the classic symptoms: dieback of lower branches, followed by a canker at the base and then a few others climbing the trunk a few feet ap…

Stand Up for Forestry

Image
A funny thing happened this week. I picked up a copy of The Forestry Source, which is an official monthly publication of the Society of American Foresters. Since I haven't been an SAF member since my college days, I thought it would be interesting to see how much forestry issues have changed in that time of several decades.

As I thumbed through the issue, I thought to myself..."a lot."

Then, the funny thing happened. Not two hours later, I received an email from my old friend and former Ibberson Chair professor at Penn State, Harry Wiant. Harry retired from here about seven or eight years ago, I guess, and went out to live with his family in Seattle. I occasionally still get a nice email from him, and it's either another one of his country music recordings, or something related to forestry. This time, he was making a direct reference to the very issue I had just been reading...and he had some thoughts to share, including a speech he used to regularly give. Many foreste…

Notes from the Road (1) - Loading Big Wood

Image
Out on the road last week, it occurred to me that some of what I do and see out there would interest a few of you, occasionally. So I'll start a new series, Notes from the Road, that will feature brief clips of what people are saying and doing out there in the world of wood. Maybe I'll go back and re-post a couple of previous notes from my travels for you newer readers.

The thought occurred to me just as a couple of forklift operators were set to load a trailer in Winchester, Virginia, last week. It's an example of something I thought other people would be interested in knowing...how do they get those whole-house truss packages on the trailer? They used to stack smaller bundles on the trailer, and then strap the whole thing together...but that took a lot of time.

Now, with some planning, care, and synchronization, they can do it all in less than three minutes. Pretty ingenious.






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

Wood Science 101 (20) - World of Wood 2015

Image
I hinted a couple of months ago that we would be holding something big this summer at Penn State. Just how big, I didn't fully realize. This is going to be bigger than the time Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over the lantern while it was being milked. Although with less destructive results, hopefully.

World of Wood 2015 will soon be upon us. From July 20th until the 23rd, some of the most interesting wood people in the world will descend on State College to discuss just about every issue, every detail, every lignocellulosic factoid on wood known to man. Where else, tell me, where else where you be able to listen to a world-class furniture artist share his knowledge with you and then relax with a scientifically-developed ice cream cone?

Where else, tell me, where else, will you be able learn how DNA sequencing and high-resolution computer vision is being applied to the battle against illegal logging, and then compete in bidding for various fascinating specimens of [legal] exotic …

Voices of the Future (14) - Ruffed Grouse and Aspen

Image
by Justin Vinglas
Forest Science Major, graduated May 10, 2015
jwv5103@psu.edu




The ruffed grouse is a species that heavily relies on an aspen forest for its habitat, source of food, and protection from predators.  The dense young growth of an aspen forest provides a source of protection from predators for the grouse, and the flowering buds of the mature aspen trees is a major source of food for this game bird.  The reason these patches grow back so thick is because of the tendency of the aspen trees to root sucker.  Once a patch of large aspen trees are cut it exposes the ground to more direct sunlight which helps the buds on the root system of the aspen tree to sprout, and a thick layer of new aspen trees begin to emerge.  A single aspen tree can produce hundreds of new aspen trees.

This species relies on a mix of young and old aspen stands so the best habitat for this bird species is 5 to 20-acre aspen patches that are close together but of different age classes. Aspen trees that are…