Showing posts from 2017

Time to Change the Narrative

It's been a nice year for my friends and clients in the wood products industry. After a slow start, all the companies I visited this year and work with realized a great year, with many of them recording record or near-record revenues. In order to stay apolitical, I won't say anything other than a pro-business, pro-consumer agenda by our country's administration always seems to perk up the economy, and especially the fortunes of those making wood. Go figure.

So I was going to Go Wood peacefully into the night, and let 2017 pass without further commentary. But a couple of items in my news feed tell me...ok, just one more post.

First was this nice piece from the New England Forestry Foundation entitled "NEFF Takes on Climate Change." It's another of those uplifting PC pieces that tell the world how Organization X, Y, or Z, is doing it's part to fight the end of the world that's being brought on by excess carbon dioxide emissions from cars, power plants,…

Why We Go Wood

Everyone has a different story about why they Go Wood. Here is one man's...

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

Autumn Events for Those Who Desire to Go Wood

The only thing good about the end to a beautiful Pennsylvania summer is the beginning of an even more beautiful Pennsylvania fall. Cool air blows away the summery haze producing a brilliant blue sky, the leaves begin changing colors, and the notes of high school bands practicing their routine down the block wafts in the breeze.

And our wood calls us back into the shop (or laboratory, as it may be.)

It's also a great time to get out on the road and learn a few things.

For instance, on September 29th and 30th, Hearne Hardwoods of Oxford, PA is holding its annual Open House, and it's a great place to meet like-minded folks, swap outrageous stories, and find that perfect piece of wood for your fall project.

For those of you that will be a little farther to the north that weekend, there's a great little woodfair that is happening in Woodstock, Ontario, for the 32nd straight year.

In October, the Wood Pro Expo returns to Lancaster, PA on the 19th and 20th. No better place to spe…

Getting the Penn State Xylarium Organized

In the last few months, I've been entering data on the Dennis Brett collection into the Penn State Xylarium database. We're now nearing 5,000 specimens, and I still have about that many to go.

But a couple of weeks ago, an opportunity to get a little more organized presented itself. It began simply enough...I received an email saying that someone in the building was looking to get rid of some old filing cabinets. Now, I've been stumbling around piles of old boxes of wood specimens for a couple of years now, when I moved all of Dennis' samples into stacks around my desk in the lab to make room for the visitors I was expecting during the World of Wood event we hosted back in summer of 2015. These piles of boxes were chest high and were rather daunting. The possibility of bringing in some file cabinets and putting them "away" while I organized the collection sounded like a good one.

But the file cabinets were very, very old, and all different sizes and colors. L…

Swimming through Wood

I've said this so many times in this blog, it truly has become repetitious. But, again, there certainly seems to be no limit to the imagination of what can be done with wood via videography.

From a post in Slate:
"For his dazzling “Woodswimmer” video above, filmmaker Brett Foxwell, who goes by bfophoto, used a process he describes as “brutally tedious.” The results, though: Wow. What you’re seeing are cross-sectional scans of hardwood, burls, and branches sequenced in stop motion. It’s like his camera is moving through the wood.Foxwell used a milling machine to cut slices from 1/40 inch to 1/2,000 of an inch thick. He cleaned, polished, and applied wood oil to each cross-section before capturing its image with a stop-motion camera. And then on to the next cut.Time-intensive as that process sounds, another issue—as he notes on his website—is that it’s “difficult to keep from watching stuff like this loop endlessly on playback as you are in the middle of shooting it.”http://www.…

G.I. Loggers in Burma (1945)

As I was digging through old documents related to the Penn State wood collection, I came across this article, a release of February 16, 1945 by the National Lumber Manufacturers Association. Too bad it wasn't made into a movie script. You loggers and mill hands who think you've got it tough today will feel better after reading about these guys.

I've reproduced it here as closely as possible to the way it looks on the original paper.

C.B.I. Roundup, service newspaper of the troops on the China-Burma-India front devoted a front page feature in its December 28th issue to the herculean feats of the Army forestry units to keep the Burma drive supplied with lumber from native timber. The story is graphically told by field correspondent, Sgt. John R. McDowell. A copy of the issue was sent home by Lt. Col. Ben Benioff, formerly an engineer with Summerbell Roof Structures, Los Angeles, now on Ledo Road, and was forwarded to the National Lumber Manufacturers Assoc…

Is Building About to Take Off, or Not?

On my way to work this morning, I took a slightly different route across campus and was taken by surprise by the number of construction projects I was forced to detour around. My first thought was that you Penn State alumni out there who Go Wood would be interested in seeing some of the changes. So I snapped a few photos...

Penn State always seems to have some construction going on somewhere on campus, but this summer is the wildest in the fifteen years I've been here. Academic boomtown, including State College just across campus, which has three new high rises under construction and a couple of more blocks under negotiation. What is going on here? Is the economy really that good?

All this construction in a large, traditional university seems to fly in the face of technological trends, which all seem aligned against classical brick-and-mortar education in the near future. But we seem to be banking that future generations of 17-year-olds (and their parents) will still be placing a …

No Surprise Here: Maine Lumber Firm is Building a Biomass Plant

From the Bangor (Maine) Daily News comes an interesting update on the ongoing biomass energy front...

With mills struggling, a Maine lumber firm is building a biomass plant
SEARSMONT, Maine — The shuttering and shrinking of paper mills has forced businesses across the forest products industry to take a fresh look at their approach.At Robbins Lumber, a 136-year-old family-owned sawmill in Searsmont, the upheaval is prompting a big investment to become not just a lumber producer, but an energy producer.... So the company is building a $36 million, 8.5 megawatt biomass plant, with capacity to sell about 7.5 megawatts to Central Maine Power. The family hopes the project will help bolster the local forest economy, while giving the lumberyard something to do with its residuals — chips, sawdust and bark — in the wake of the paper mill closures.  - Bangor Daily News While the promotion of biomass energy has quieted some in the recent surge of natural gas supply, it continues to remain a common …

Keeping Abreast of Improvements in Housing Technology

For those of you in the home construction industry around the Mid-Atlantic Area, the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center of Penn State's College of Engineering is offering the 25th in an annual series of conferences aimed at improving the quality and affordability of housing.

The 25th Annual PHRC Conference...
"provides information and updates on issues of interest to the residential construction industry. The first day of the conference, Wednesday (3/1), focuses on issues related to housing structures and their systems via breakout session in four tracks: Building Science & Technology, Construction & Management, Building Codes, and Multifamily. The second day of the conference, Thursday (3/2), provides opportunities to attend full-day workshops relating to specific areas of residential construction."
This is a nice program that offers local builders to catch up on the latest innovations and regulations while networking with folks that think a lot about the futu…

Notes from the Road (15) - A Day That Will Live in Infamy

No, we're not talking about December 7, 1941, although we Americans will remember that one for much longer than any participants of that day in Pearl Harbor walk this earth.

I discovered another day of infamy, that the horrible Second World War brought us, one not really known by most Americans, but one that Australians will remember for just as long.

February 19, 1942. Seventy-five years ago this weekend...
"The Bombing of Darwin, also known as the Battle of Darwin, on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft, in two separate raids, attacked the town, ships in Darwin's harbour and the town's two airfields in an attempt to prevent the Allies from using them as bases to contest the invasions of Timor and Java. The town was only lightly defended and the Japanese inflicted heavy losses upon the Allied forces at little cost to themselves. The urban areas of Darwin also suffered some dama…

Notes from the Road (14) - It's Saturday night, and the Pubs in Australia are Full

Well, we've reached the end of another long week, and you're looking forward to relaxing a bit. Looking through my Australian photos, I remembered a Saturday night in Queensland that gave me a break from the bush, and showed me how the real folks relax in the outback.

I had come a long way, and just as sun hit the horizon, I made it to the town of Blackall, Queensland.

After throwing my bag upstairs, washing my hands and face, and brushing the flies out of my teeth, I casually sauntered down to the pub to grab a bite and a bit of the local color. The food was good...I think I had fried steak, or lamb, and the fries (chips down under) were just right, crunchy and yet light. I had learned to avoid what the Australians call tomato sauce, which is what you get when you ask for ketchup. It's a tasteless, slightly sweet red soup that trickles onto your food, and improves it in no way whatsoever. I'm opening a Heinz distribution company down there someday.

As I ate, I watched…