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Showing posts from September, 2018

Great Designs in Wood (74) - The Olde Oaken Barrel

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I was giving a presentation to a group of chestnut scientists (more about that in days to come) when I showed them these slides...



The first shows shows a phenomenon called tyloses, which is a waxy build-up of parenchyma cell distensions that grow like balloons and plug up the cell lumens, or the pores, of woody cells. Tyloses grow to a slight extent in most hardwoods, but they are especially prominent in the various species of white oaks.

The second photo, which illustrates the difference between red oak wood and chestnut wood (primarily, the wide multi-cellular rays in the oak [Item G]) also illustrates why red oak isn't used for wooden barrels. As you see, the large early-wood pores are mostly free of tyloses, whereas the cell lumens in the upper picture are obviously packed with them. This packing of the cell lumens with tyloses is why the white oak species are the preferred species for hardwood barrels...they have more tyloses than all other hardwoods. What advantage is this…

Who Says Go Wood is Boring?

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When I was contemplating the renaissance of Go Wood, I got lots of advice from The Wife and The Daughters, who are all social media experts. Daughter Two advised me to keep it shorter - the posts were too long to read. Daughters One and Three counseled me to be sweeter - my posts were all too serious. And The Wife gave me the best advice of all - make it sexier.

So I get it - shorter, sweeter, sexier. That's our new motto here at Go Wood.

I think this next photo is what they had in mind...

"Nothing like a great day splitting wood the old-fashioned way. Axe, muscle, concentration. While the camera takes my picture."


Well, I guess this does slightly resemble me splitting wood on a nice day. Slightly. I have the same jeans, anyway.

But I've considered their comments very deeply since then, and decided that no, I just can't diminish the dignity of Go Wood like that. We want folks to seriously consider the finer points of a Woody Life, without stooping to the lowest …

An Even Better Brazil Nut Story

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As if the last post about Brazil nuts wasn't interesting enough, Michael Nee in Wisconsin sent me a colorful follow-up of his own experience in collecting and studying Brazil nuts in their native habitat.
Chuck, I enjoyed the video on the Brazil nuts. Here is a picture from a production area in the rain forest along the Rio Madre de Dios in northern Bolivia. The shed was full of Brazil nuts collected in the forest and were waiting to be loaded on a boat to go on their way to being exported. Every day the owner of the pigs would scoop out another bunch of nuts for these porkers. They say that a pig on a diet of Brazil nuts results in lard that remains liquid and won't harden.
Since no one was around these isolated sheds on the banks of the Rio Madre de Dios, we would help ourselves to a few handfuls to snack on while we were travelling up- or downstream in our boat during the month-long expedition here in northern Bolivia. When we got back to Riberalta, our base, the political si…