Category: Blogs

EAB Threatens 50,000 Trees in Lincoln, NE

The deadly emerald ash borer has made its way to Lincoln, NE, putting up to 50,000 public and private ash trees at risk.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the city has been bracing for the emerald ash borer’s arrival for the past three years. The wait ended when the EAB was cited within the city this fall.

According to the Journal Star, Lincoln has developed a 15 year plan to spend an estimated $22.8 million to combat the EAB invasion and its impact on 14,000 public ash trees. The plan includes removing about 1,000 ash trees a year and replacing them with other tree species. The city will spend about $10 million of the total to hire private tree care companies to remove ash trees with diameters of 18 inches or more.

The city has also held public hearings to outline its plan to residents. The newspaper reported that there is concern that many residents cannot afford to remove ash trees, which pose a safety hazard,  from their private property.

A related article by the Journal Star focused on a pair of workshops held in late November focused on utilizing some of the ash tree removals for lumber and wood products.

 

 

 

 



Share Your Urban Wood Success Stories, Photos, Videos, etc.

A lot of the best news and events items, blogs and videos about urban wood posted on this website were submitted by sawyers, woodworkers and others who are proud to share their success stories.

And we’re more than pleased to do so!

Here are just a few examples of urban wood in action that came across the transom:

Retired Teacher Focuses on Growing Urban Wood Business

Read more.

Wisconsin Urban Forest Fest Set for Sept. 15

Read more. 

Watch Tom The Sawyer Transform an Urban Honey Locust Log

Read more.

 

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 – even a few bullet points – about the tree and how and why it was transformed into something of value for its second life. 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 news, events, videos, etc. to Rich Christianson at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.



What’s That Urban Log Worth?

Scott Wunder, a custom sawyer and woodworker based in St. Charles, MO, also is a ‘wunderful’ blogger. Over the years he has tackled a variety of subjects, many of them relative to the world of urban wood. I think one of his most interesting and germane to the urban wood conversation is rhetorically titled, “What Is Your Log Worth?”

“The short answer,” Wunder writes, “is probably not as much as you had hoped, but you’re not here for the short answer, so I’ll give you the long one.”

If you’ve got a few minutes, it’s well worth the read.

Also featured in this issue
The Urban Wood Network concluded its four-part “How-to Do Urban Wood” webinar series with “Starting a State Urban Wood Network.” The presentation illustrates by example, featuring three speakers of Wisconsin Urban Wood. You can catch this and the other three webinars On-demand.

Since retiring from his professorship at Purdue University, Dan Cassens has more time to devote to Cassens Lumber, a custom sawmill operation in West Lafayette, IN. Cassens is the featured guest in one of the “Milling Your Own Lumber” video series presented by Poplar Woodworking in conjunction with Wood-Mizer.

Dovetail Partners, a forest consulting firm with strong ties to urban wood markets, invites urban wood enterprises to get listed on its “Buy Local – Wood Products Campaigns” map. Learn how in this edition of the Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Think urban wood for that special someone on your holiday list!

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Teami
info@illinoisurbanwood.org

READ THE NOVEMBER ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



Greater West Town Celebrates 25 Years!

Congratulations to our friends at the Greater West Town Project on reaching the quarter-century of a mark. The GWTP has trained and placed 900 low-income Chicagoans in woodworking shops since it was launched in 1993. The center has moved into larger quarters and added next generation technology over the years. But the one constant during its 25-year history is Doug Rappe, program coordinator and a long-time proponent of using urban wood. Read about Doug and his award-winning program in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue
Dovetail Partners continues to take the lead on developing an urban wood certification program. Lucy Cohn-Still, Urban & Community Forestry Specialist of the North Carolina Forest Service, recently authored an update on the program’s progress. “The results of this collaboration would support state urban wood groups, create messaging, and be presented to various audiences and venues,” Cohn-Still writes.

It’s hurricane season and we’ve already witness the death and destruction wreaked by Hurricanes Florence and Michael. While the immediate focus in a hurricane’s wake is search and rescue by first responders, there is also a need to remove storm damaged trees. This is where the Urban Forest Strike Team springs to action. Read a 2017 blog by Patty Matteson, Southern Research Station, Forest Service in Forestry, that still rings true today.

Finally, the Urban Wood Network presented the fourth installment of its popular “How to Do Urban Wood” webinar series on October 25. Like the previous three segments, it will soon be archived to watch on-demand. Find a link to the webinar archives in the Update.

Looking forward to receiving your urban wood news and photos!

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team
info@illinoisurbanwood.org

 

READ THE OCTOBER ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



How Much Is Your Log Worth?

By Scott Wunder

Editor’s Note: Scott Wunder is owner of WunderWoods, a custom sawmill and woodworking shop in St. Charles, MO. Read more of Scott’s “wunderful” blogs at wunderwoods.com.

How much is your log worth? The short answer is probably not as much as you had hoped, but you’re not here for the short answer, so I’ll give you the long one.

First off, you need a bit of background of where I come from on this subject. I mill, sell and work with lumber from mostly suburban settings with lots of yard trees salvaged from tree services and a decent number of logs from wooded settings, usually where a building is about to be erected. This means my log supply can range from barely usable to awesomely perfect and all with lots of wacky and wild in between. I normally pay nothing for my logs and only buy a couple of logs per year, which I just can’t live without. I mostly don’t pay for logs because I mostly don’t have to. There are lots of logs available to me, especially if I am willing to pick them up.

Since I work in an area with a large population (St. Louis and St. Charles, MO), I often get requests from homeowners looking to make money from their logs, especially after hearing age-old stories of walnut logs selling for thousands and thousands of dollars. These consistent requests and a recent article in the Missouri Conservationist magazine (click here to read the article) about Missouri hardwoods prompted me to put into writing what I have repeated probably hundreds of times.

  1. A log is worth as much as someone is willing to pay. This sounds like a smartass answer, but it isn’t. If you don’t know where to sell your logs or you can’t find someone in your area willing to pay, they aren’t worth much. And, if you can’t get your logs to the buyer they are worth even less. Especially, if you only have one tree, expect no excitement from someone who normally purchases logs. You won’t get a larger purchaser, like a big sawmill, to come out for less than a truckload.
  2. Your log probably isn’t as great as you think it is. You would be amazed by how many people call me and tell me about a walnut tree in their yard that is at least 40 years old or about the tree which has its first branch at 5′ from the ground. A walnut tree is a baby at 40 years old and is obviously a short, branchy yard tree with not much of a log if there are branches 5′ from the ground. A good tree, one worth really talking about, will have at least 10′ of branchless trunk, if not 14′ or 16′ or more. Just because it is a walnut tree, doesn’t mean it is a good walnut tree.
  1. This walnut tree was about 90 years old and produced a very nice stem. The bottom log has about 250 bf. in it and would fetch about $500 dollars delivered to a sawmill. The top log in the pile and the second log up in the tree has about 200 bf. in it and would be worth about $175.

     

  2. Most high-dollar logs are veneer-quality logs. Almost all of the stories of logs selling for high prices are for veneer-quality logs. And, almost all of the logs out there are not veneer-quality logs. Veneer logs look like they came from the “log factory” and are perfect in every way; no signs of knots, straight, round, good color, good growth ring spacing, centered pith, no bird peck, no shake, no metal, fresh, and hopefully, big. I only get a few veneer quality trees out of hundreds per year and they almost never come out of yards. They are usually hidden somewhere in the woods.

    White oak logs don’t get much better than this 16′ long x 30″ diameter example. Yet, the veneer buyer wasn’t interested in purchasing it because the color was not good.

     

  3. Yard trees have metal in them. This is no myth. Whether you remember doing it or not, there is a good chance your yard tree has metal in it. Metal, like nails, hooks, wires and chains mess up saw blades and make a mess by staining the wood. I expect trees I pick up to have metal in them, and I will work around it, but remember, I don’t pay for trees. Larger operations have no reason to buy logs with metal in them, especially if the next log truck in the gate is full of logs without metal.

    Bottom logs have the most valuable wood and the most metal, like this electrical conduit with wires.

     

  4. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you are reading this, it is most likely because you don’t sell logs on a regular basis (or, you just want to see if I know what I am talking about). Without doing this consistently, you can’t know enough about your logs to properly sell them. You can’t get it in front of the right people at the right time and present them with something they can’t live without, and you definitely can’t defend your product. You will be at the mercy of the buyer. They will know after the first thing out of your mouth that you do not know what you are doing, and even if they are fair, they will never overpay.

This is a good-looking walnut log, but it has a lot of sapwood (white ring on outside), which will make it less valuable. If you don’t sell logs regularly, there is no way you would know that this could be an issue for some buyers.

 

You can tell from most of these points that I am pretty sure you aren’t going to get rich from your single tree or a couple of logs (especially from me) and you shouldn’t expect to. With that point made, you should know that some do have value if you have a place to sell them and you have a way to get them to a buyer. So, if I haven’t completely dissuaded you from selling your logs, below are some pricing examples that you can expect if you were to sell your logs to a larger operation in the midwest:

Average price, based on 20″ diameter inside the bark on the skinny end x 10′ long = 160 bf.

Red oak $.70 per bf. clear saw log = $112, $1.00 per bf. veneer log= $160

White oak $.85 per bf. clear saw log = $136, $1.50 per bf. veneer log= $240

Walnut $1.70 per bf. clear saw log = $272, $3.50 per bf. veneer log= $560

Cherry $.90 per bf. clear saw log = $144, $1.40 per bf. veneer log= $224

Hard Maple $.75 per bf. clear saw log = $120, $1.25 per bf. veneer log= $200

 

This mix of 10′ x 20″ black oak, white oak and post oak trees from a homebuilding site would sell for about $75-$100 each, delivered to a local sawmill.

Now, obviously prices will range from mill to mill, based on what wood is available in the area, what is selling well and if the mill specializes in any products or species. The above prices should just serve as a guidepost in determining if bothering to sell your logs is worthwhile. Most of the logs in the pricing example above would not cover the price of trucking on their own, so marketing one log most likely doesn’t make sense, unless you can haul it yourself.

However, you can see that if a landowner were to have a large number of trees, the money could start to add up. $112 for a red oak log doesn’t sound like much, but it starts to sound like something when there is a semi truckload of $112 logs. This is what most large timber sales are based on; a large number of logs sold at a fair price and not necessarily getting rich on one tree.

Usually, the phone calls I answer are about a single “big” walnut tree which will cost a homeowner lots of money to remove because it is large and right up against the house. They see a big log worth big money. However, the removal costs also jump up with the increase in tree size, negating any benefit of a larger tree. Their hope is that I will be excited enough about their tree to cut it down (safely, I presume) in trade for the wood, but the math doesn’t work out. A tree which costs $3,000 to remove probably won’t have $3,000 worth of logs in it, no matter if it is walnut or not.

Remember, the bottom line is that logs do have some value, but if you can’t do all of the work like cutting, hauling and selling yourself there is almost no way to make money on a single tree. Unless, of course, you just happen to have a tree like the ones below that I couldn’t live without.

This 11′ x 42″ diameter walnut took two forklifts to move and was one of only two trees which I purchased last year. I paid $950 for this log and it is the largest walnut I have personally processed. This log is potentially worth more money, but it had several obvious signs of metal, so larger mills weren’t interested.

 

This 15′ x 38″ diameter walnut was the second of only two trees which I purchased within the last year. I paid $700 for the tree and it is the second largest walnut I have ever cut. This tree also had metal in it, which kept the price down.



After the Storm, Call on the Urban Forest Strike Team

Editor’s note: This blog was posted a year ago but remains relevant, especially after the recent havoc of Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

 

By Patty Matteson, Southern Research Station, Forest Service in Forestry 

Thousands of federal, state, and private agencies have been deployed to areas that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These first responders are there to help the people in the storm’s path. However, there is another group of responders that go into storm-ravaged towns to aid the trees: the Urban Forest Strike Teams (UFST).

This 10-year-old program is a nationwide collaborative effort among state forestry agencies funded and trained through the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Since 2007, the Southern UFST has been activated 12 times and mobilized across the South in response to hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms.

The catalyst for the creation of UFST was Hurricane Katrina. Widespread tree damage prompted the international Society of Arboriculture, Davey Resource Group, and USFS to deploy certified arborists into at least nine communities along the Mississippi/Louisiana Gulf Coast. State forestry agency urban foresters were frustrated that damaged but viable trees were being cut down and trees that posed a high risk to the public remained standing. The lack of an assessment strategy or trained staff hindered their ability to offer needed assistance to impacted communities.

Urban Forestry Coordinators of Virginia and North Carolina – Paul Revell and Leslie Moorman – reached out to USFS Southern Research Station (SRS) for assistance. In 2007 Dudley Hartel, SRS’s Urban Forestry South center manager, and Eric Kuehler, technology transfer specialist, developed the first UFST training program in collaboration with state forestry agencies.

A UFST is comprised of highly-trained specialists, including Certified Arborists® and foresters, who conduct damage assessments and determine whether the storm-damaged trees pose risks to the community. The UFST walks the city streets, parks, and other public property; evaluates damaged trees; and enters GIS data to support mitigation and recovery. This real-time data provides the city with information on which trees were impacted, where they are located, the extent of the damage, and whether the damaged trees pose a risk. UFSTs also provide communities with the information necessary to apply for FEMA public assistance and debris removal, as well as connecting communities with potential partners to help replant a community’s forest.

“The UFST goes into areas first hit hard by wind damage,” said Hartel. “We will have to wait until next spring before we send a team to Houston to access tree damage due to flooding. All that water will have a significant impact to tree health in the long-term.”

“Trees are a critical part of a community’s infrastructure and should be considered in restoration planning,” said Linda Moon, communications liaison to the Southern Group State Forestry and with Texas A&M Forest Service. “Making our urban forests more resilient will in turn make our cherished communities more resilient.”



Making the Transition from Teaching to Running an Urban Wood Business

Skorup made this live-edge table from tornado-salvaged wood.

Steve Skorup of Sandwich, IL, may have retired from high school teaching, but he’s hardly retired. His new day job is harvesting urban trees to make into furniture and other wood products. He’s found diverse sources for urban logs and has made friends with a pair of local sawyers to mill them for his shop. Read more about Skorup and his urban wood business, SAWINC, in this edition of the Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue

Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products of Milwaukee, presented the first Wisconsin Urban Wood Utilization Award to the architects and builders of the DoMUS apartment complex. The award recognized the project’s use of Wisconsin Urban Wood shelving in 117 luxury apartments. His goal is to make this an annual award. Way to go, Dwayne!

We’ve featured several videos produced Tom Hogard of Eudora, KS, better known in urban wood circles as Tom The Sawyer, over the years. Tom recently began blogging on his website. In one of them he tackles the challenging question, “Can you cut your lumber costs significantly by patronizing your local sawmill?” Read the article in this month’s Update for Tom’s answer.

The Urban Wood Network presented its third in its “How to Do Urban Wood” webinar series last week. It will soon be archived to watch on-demand. The second webinar, “How to Produce and Market Urban Lumber,” was recently added to the archives. A handy link is offered in the newsletter to check it out.

As always, send me your urban wood news and photos. Steve Skorup did it, so can you!

Rich Christianson

Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team


UWN Webinar #2: How to Produce & Market Urban Lumber

How to Produce & Market Urban Wood Lumber, the second in a series of informative webinars presented by the Urban Wood Network, is available on demand.

Urban wood is a legitimate source of lumber products.  Lumber made from urban wood has unique and valuable attributes but urban logs can be difficult to process and saw. This webinar shows examples of log sources, sawing methods for producing urban lumber, lumber drying techniques and marketing strategies.

Participants learn:

  • Sourcing logs
  • Guidelines for grading urban lumber
  • Air drying and kiln drying techniques
  • Urban wood lumber branding opportunities
  • How to identify markets for urban wood lumber
  • Who to contact for assistance
  • How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

Speakers:
Margaret Studer-Miller – Spalted Banjo Consulting, Petoksy, MI;
Tim O’Neill – The Urban Lumber Company, Kansas City, MO; and
Paul Morrison – The Wood Cycle, Oregon, WI.

Watch the Webinar Now!

Learn more about the Urban Wood Network’s “How-to Do Urban Wood” webinar series.



Tom The Sawyer’s Examines ‘The Cost of Lumber’

Tom Hogard of Eudora, KS, better known in urban wood circles as Tom The Sawyer, has done a bang up job of sharing videos of interesting milling projects and sharing his knowledge and experience of the ins and outs of the urban wood marketplace. Case in point is a blog Hogard wrote to answer the challenging question, “Can you cut your lumber costs significantly by patronizing your local sawmill?”

Here are a few excerpts:

  • In my opinion, there are two basic types of markets for hardwood lumber.  I refer to these markets as commodity and character.  The commodity market is the primary market, hundreds of times larger than the character lumber market.  Huge milling operations that may put out many thousands of board feet per week.  For commodity lumber, extra-wide boards demand a premium price, as do thicker boards.  Rarely do they offer characteristics such as crotch figure or live edges.
  • The journey from a growing tree to a piece of furniture has many steps.  Every step in the process involves risk, investment, waste, and profit.  The earlier in the process you acquire your lumber, the less expensive it will be.  The potential cost savings involves an investment and some risk.  Each of the persons in the process must cover their expenses or go out of business.  If there is no profit, they’ll often find something else more rewarding.  Depending on your needs, that $5 p/bf walnut board may be a bargain.
  • Logs are heavy.  It takes ingenuity to remove a 4000 lb log from someone’s back yard, through a fence gate, without tearing up the lawn (which is one reason why many urban logs are cut into short, easier to handle, pieces).  Then there is the issue of loading those logs on a truck or trailer and transporting to their next stop; a sawmill, or a landfill/dump/chipping facility.  Of course, in commercial operations there is an abundance of heavy equipment designed to perform those functions efficiently.

To get the full context, read the entire blog – and others – on Tom The Sawyer’s website.

 

 



IWF Urban Wood Seminar Delivered with a Tinge of Irony

As I went about last-minute preparations leading up to welcoming woodworkers to the August 24 urban wood seminar, I had to laugh.

Standing at the podium, I pulled a red and silver flash drive from my pocket containing all four of the panelist’s presentations. As I began inserting it into the laptop connected to the projector, I noted the device bore the logo “Allsteel,” The irony that I had uploaded our urban wood PowerPoints onto the thumb drive pf this metal office furniture manufacturer randomly fished from my collection did not escape me.

After briefly pausing to chuckle, I put on my game face and charged ahead with my opening remarks introductions of the expert panel representing three distinct urban wood utilization groups: Jennifer Alger, Urban Salvaged & Reclaimed Wood on the West Coast; Joe Lehnen, Virginia Urban Wood Group of the Southeast; and Dwayne Sperber, Urban Wood Network of the Midwest.

The 90-minute presentation was well received by the audience of professional woodworkers attending the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. They came from coast to coast and Canada. Some had experience using urban wood in their products, others were curious to learn more about how they might do so. A few even expressed interest in trying to rev up urban wood networks in their home states where none currently existed.

The program had the support of lead sponsor Wood-Mizer, plus Richelieu Hardware, Dynabrade and Safety Speed Manufacturing. All four companies are long-time exhibitors of IWF, North America’s largest woodworking event.

Read more about the seminar, “The Urban Wood Revolution Is Now! Come Join the Movement,” in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue

Professional woodworkers are an important link in the chain to grow demand for urban wood. This is why being able to take to the stage of huge industry events like IWF, and benefit from all of the publicity that surrounds it, is an important component of the Urban Wood Network’s outreach activities to spur greater awareness of urban woods potential. Earlier this summer, the story of how Riverside, IL, repurposed an historic 160-year-old oak tree felled by high winds into custom desks for its trustees, was published in Woodshop News. The national publication is circulated to more than 50,000 print and digital readers.

Sam Sherrill, the dean of urban wood, helped examine the greener side of urban wood products. His research done in tandem with Steve of Dovetail Partners, quantified the benefits of furniture and other products made with urban wood to sequester carbon, thus reducing the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Reminders
The second installment of the Urban Wood Network’s How To Do Urban Wood webinar series – Urban Lumber – How to Produce and Market It – takes place at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, August 29.

The Wisconsin Urban Forest Fest is scheduled for September 15 at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee.

The lights are always on for receiving your urban wood stories, photos and experiences to share with the Illinois Urban Wood Update subscriber base.

Enjoy the issue!

Rich Christianson

Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team
info@illinoisurbanwood.org

P.S. Joe Lehnen texted me to let me know he had the “Allsteel” thumb drive, which I had left in the seminar room. I replied that he should hold onto it and that perhaps 10 years from now it would be a valuable collectable of the Urban Wood Movement!

READ THE AUGUST ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE