Category: Blogs

Video: Reclaiming Wood from Historic Philadelphia Buildings

 

Wood-Mizer presents Episode 2 of its Urban Sawmilling series, a collection of videos profiling companies advancing the urban wood movement.

Episode 2 features Steve Ebner and his daughter Rebecca who run Manayunk Timber, an urban sawmill in Philadelphia, PA. Established in 1984, Manayunk Timber specializes in reclaiming old-growth, high-quality wood from 19th century Philadelphia buildings and offering local, sustainable lumber for restoration, renovation, custom woodworking and new construction projects.

Learn more about Manayunk Timber.

 



Video: Pioneering Urban Wood Use in Austin

Devin Ginther and Aaron Mitchamore are co-founders of TX Urban Sawmill LLC, a newly-established company dedicated to salvaging lumber from felled urban trees in and around Austin, TX. Ginther is also owner of Refined Elements, a company that specializes in inspired natural design, live edge furniture, solid hardwood furniture and specialty lumber sales, including urban wood.
Ginther said the accompanying video kicks of a series of urban wood videos that will be throughout 2018.
TX Urban Sawmill’s motto is “Help us save Texas, one tree at a time.” The company has formed a partnership with Austin Tree Experts to help identify trees at the end of their service that have the potential to yield valuable lumber and is actively pursuing relationships with other area businesses that share the vision of repurposing urban trees as furniture and other wood products.


Grand Rapids Tree Awards Create Urban Wood Plot Lines

Mayors-Tree-of-The-Year-2017-second-placeBy Rich Christianson

If you love hearing about urban trees repurposed as furniture and other wood products, then you gotta love the Mayor’s Tree of the Year program in Grand Rapids, MI. While the focus is clearly on saluting trees that are thriving, great back stories are being created in the process that will add tremendous value to the lumber these trees will – hopefully – yield when they must come down.

The annual award program was initiated in 2012 by the Friends of the Grand Rapids Parks. The Arbor Day Foundation recognized Friends of Grand Rapids Parks for its launch of the Urban Forest Project, which includes a crowd-sourced map on which the public can plot the locations of trees.

The 2017 Mayor’s Tree of the Year dedicated in September is a  “European Beech tree chosen for it’s size, beauty and context within the history of Oakhill cemetery . This magnificent tree has a diameter of 48 inches and a canopy spread of nearly 90 feet.” Adding to the plot line is this quote from the resident who nominated the tree for the award. “It has an amazing sinuous trunk. One side looks like it has toes! It has a sweeping canopy like an umbrella (it works like a real one, too!) and it has its very own bench.” (See local TV station’s report in video below.)

There would be a great tale to tell about any furniture or wood products made from this award-winning tree that stands guardian to a cemetery. Talk about full circle!

The runner-up trees are no slouches.

Second place went to a white mulberry in John Ball Park. Said the nominator, “I love how much character this tree has. Viewed from a distance, it looks a bit like an overgrown shrub, but once you approach it, you see that it’s a tree that’s leaning out to encircle a small, private area with a couple of picnic tables. It makes the city feel miles away.”

An historic 200-plus-year-old red oak, the largest and oldest tree on Calvin College’s main campus, took third place honors. “We collect seeds to grow plants and trees for our rain gardens,” said the nominator. “Every year I collect a couple acorns from this tree to germinate. We grow up these acorns in our nursery and plant the saplings in rain garden across the Grand Rapids community. Not only is this tree beloved by those at Calvin, It’s babies are growing throughout the city to be enjoyed by many others.”

I hope Grand Rapids citizens will enjoy these trees for many years to come, but when the time comes that they must be removed, may their stories be cherished as future heirlooms for generations to come.

Read more about the 2017 Mayor’s Tree of the Year program.

 

 

 

 



Every Urban Tree Tells a Story; Got One to Share?

furniture 209214

Oak/Cherry Coffee Table by Michael Dimitroff of the Chicago Park District.

Many of the urban trees that get repurposed as lumber and ultimately furniture or other wood products have a back story. It may be the backyard tree that shaded a generation or more of the same family. Or it may be the tree in the park renown for snagging kites.

There are as many potential story lines as there are urban trees. If you have one to share, we’d love to hear it. Simply send a photo or two and a short write up about the tree and how and why it was transformed into something of value for its second life. Even a handful of bullet points will suffice. We’ll do the rest and share your story with our audience on the IL WUT website and monthly Illinois Urban Wood newsletter.

Direct your urban tree tale to Rich Christianson at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.

Let’s aspire to inspire others how to put urban trees at the end of their life to their highest and best possible use!



OCT Update: Tree ‘Cookies’ Make Nifty Award Plaques

cookcounty209214I don’t think they would be too good for dunking in a glass of milk, but the ‘tree cookies’ serving as plaques for the inaugural Force of Nature Awards presented by Chicago Wilderness sure have a tasty design.

The unique tree ring plaques, still framed by their bark, were crafted from a tree removed from the Cook County Forest Preserves by the CCFP’s sign shop foreman Roy McNaughton. You can view photos of McNaughton’s handiwork and read about the awards in this month’s Illinois Wood Update.

Also in the October edition, learn why Schmidt Custom Floor joined the urban wood movement. The Waukesha, WI, company’s story is but one of many company profiles featured on UrbanWoodNetwork.org.

This month’s featured video shines a spotlight on Richmond Hill’s emerald ash borer management strategy, which includes utilizing as many of the infested trees in the Toronto suburb as possible.

Do you have urban wood news, stories, events to share? Then send it to us at info@illinoisurbanwood.org.

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team

READ THE OCTOBER 2017 ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



SEP Update: City Squanders Ash Tree Removals

Hamilton-Holmes-Shell-TableAs if it’s not difficult enough to make a successful go of local urban wood movements, we would like to think that municipalities would be delighted to have a woodworker interested in repurposing some of its ash tree removals.

Such was not the case in Hamilton, ON, where custom woodworker Nicholas Hamilton Holmes was denied access of trees taken down due to emerald ash borer infestation. Instead of being made into custom furniture and wood products, the trees were chipped and land filled.

Sad but true.

You can read about Holmes’ battle with the city in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Speaking of Nicks, learn how to enter the Rebuilding Exchange’s contest to win tickets to a stand-up comedy performance by Nick Offerman at the Chicago Theater. Offerman, an accomplished woodworker in his own right, will hold court on Dec. 1.

Also in this issue, read about the progress the Southeast Urban Wood Exchange has made in launching a website created to connect land owners, arborists, tree removal professionals, sawyers and woodworkers.

If you’ve got the time and the mind, make a date listen in on the Fall Urban Wood Utilization Webcast hosted by the Wood Education and Resource Center. Among the agenda items, Don Peterson will give an update on the Full Circle project that involves wood utilization teams in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. The full agenda and a link to the webcast is included in this month’s newsletter.

Have you saved an urban tree from the landfill today? Tell us about it at info@illinoisurbanwood.org.

Until next month, enjoy!

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team

 

READ THE SEPTEMBER ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



Spurned Woodworker Turns to Toronto for Urban Ash Lumber

By Rich Christianson

Custom woodworker Nicholas Hamilton Holmes can only imagine how many more products he would have crafted from urban wood if the City of Hamilton, ON, had allowed him to utilize some of the thousands of ash trees the city has been removing due to emerald ash borer infestation.

Holmes recently told me via email that, “Hamilton hasn’t really shifted their position as far as I know.”

The headline of February 2014 CBC News’ report pretty much summed up the situation: “Hamilton furniture maker wants to use ash borer wood, city says NO.

The article cited Toronto and Illinois as two examples of areas promoting the use of wood from trees felled by the emerald ash borer. It even quoted IL WUT’s own Edith Makra.

With Hamilton expecting to lose 22,738 trees to the EAB, one would think that the city would have been happy to spare even a few of the higher-quality logs the landfill to be made into something. But when Holmes asked the city for some of the ash logs to mill into lumber, he was not only turned away, but at one point told he would require $2 million in insurance coverage to haul city logs.

Rather than play the role of Don Quixote, Holmes decided not to battle Hamilton over its ash tree policy even though it frustrated him to see so much valuable wood go to waste. While the city’s rejection slowed him down, it hardly dissuaded him from using urban wood in some of his projects. He found a ready source of supply from nearby Toronto,which has taken a proactive stance on ash tree utilization.

Pictured above are a couple of items Holmes made from local urban ash wood. The Shell Table was made from two boards from the same tree milled by Sawmill Sid of Mississauga, ON. Hamilton displayed the table at a special exhibit of furniture and crafts made from Toronto-area ash trees at IDEX, an annual show attended by architects and designers.

Holmes also used urban ash for the Rhythm Rattles shown above and said he is “making a table for a client who had milled a walnut log from their property. I’ll be building it in the next few months and the wood  is looking really nice.”

Learn more about Nicholas Hamilton Holmes at hamiltonholmes.com.



AUG UPDATE: House Supports Urban Forestry Funding

Riverside-Urban-Oak-Table209214Things weren’t looking so good for Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) programs when President Trump unveiled his 2018 budget zeroing out funding. But the House of Representatives has picked up the pieces and allocated $27.3 million to support the health of our nation’s urban forests. That’s a handful of sawdust relative to the overall $4 trillion budget, but welcomed nonetheless by the agencies throughout the United States and its territories.
Continuation of U&CF funding still requires support of the U.S. Senate. As you can read in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update, the Sustainable Urban Forestry Council and the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Alliance for Community Trees Program have been rallying support to lobby the Senate to maintain funding. You can also watch an on-demand webinar explaining what’s at stake and how to get involved.
Speaking of involved, the Village of Riverside showed its support of the Chicago area’s urban wood movement. Village officials gave their blessing to have a 160-year-old oak tree downed in a March storm repurposed into a trio of desks for the village hall. Kudos to Riverside Forester Michael Collins for seeking and winning the support of elected officials. I had a chance to meet with Michael, Dan DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwood, which milled the log, and Paul Meyers of Woodstock Woodworks, who expertly crafted the pieces. I’ll be writing a story for a national woodworking trade publication for the time being, check out the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark’s report.
Need a break from reading? Check out the video that shows how Indy Urban Hardwood utilizes its portable sawmill to salvage fallen and diseased urban trees in Indianapolis. It’s Episode One of Wood-Mizer’s new Urban Sawmill series.
And don’t forget to send us your urban wood news, stories, events and more.
Until next month, enjoy!
Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team

READ THE AUGUST

ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



Pacific Coast Lumber Owner Has His Urban Wood Elevator Speech Down Pat

Sean O’Brien, owner of Pacific Coast Lumber in San Luis Obispo, CA, does a great job of explaining his company’s urban wood business and the potential of helping keep 40,000 board feet of lumber out of landfills each month. O’Brien hits all of the high notes about why repurposing dead and dying community trees into lumber and slabs is a great idea in this 2-minute video. Check it out.


Duluth’s EAB Plan Promotes Wood Use; Does Your City Do the Same?

City-of-Duluth

BY RICH CHRISTIANSON

It only represents one paragraph of a 14-page document, yet it’s encouraging to see that the City of Duluth, MN, incorporated urban wood utilization in its Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan originated in July 2015 and finalized in November 2016.

That one small yet significant paragraph reads: “After all bark including ½ inch of sapwood is removed from ash, the wood can be used for lumber. This lumber could be used for park projects including mulching, constructing benches, playground equipment, etc. If ash mulch is to be used, the chips must be chipped at no greater than 1” X 1” in two dimensions.”

Duluth officials started crafting the EAB management knowing that it was just a matter of time before the deadly beetle would invade the area. The first confirmation that the EAB had arrived was in St. Louis County in October 2015.

The ultimate death toll of ash trees in Minnesota is expected to be huge. As the introduction of the management plant notes, “According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota has the highest volume of ash trees in the U.S. with almost a billion forestland and urban ash trees. Duluth has about 2,404 boulevard ash trees alone, not including park or privately owned ash.”

Key topics of Duluth’s EAB management plan include:

  • Monitoring and Inspection
  • Insecticide Use
  • Community Outreach
  • Ash Tree Removal
  • Ash Wood Disposal
  • Reforestation and Canopy Replacement
  • Biological Control

I am constantly amazed that many of the municipal urban forestry plans I skim through focus on tree planting, maintenance and disposal without even a mention of wood utilization. I’d be very interested to learn of other cities that like Duluth that have enacted community tree management plans that actively promote a second life for its ash trees as mulch and lumber.

Drop me a line at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.

Read Duluth’s EAB Management Plan.