Tag: Urban Wood

Tree Services Magazine Focuses on Using Urban Tree Waste

The October 2017 issue of Tree Services magazine featured an article on managing urban tree waste.

“Wood Waste Considerations,” included quotes from Rich Christianson, communications director of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team about putting felled urban trees to their highest and best use. Christianson noted that tree care professionals “are on the front lines – they often know of desirable trees that are coming down because of whatever reason, whether its emerald ash borer, storm damage or utility work – so we’re trying to get them more involved.”

Read the full article.


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.

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

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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!

Cook County Forest Preserves’ Tree Repurposed for Unique Award Plaques

By Cherie LeBlanc Fisher

In July 2017, Chicago Wilderness presented its first-ever Force of Nature Awards to 10 people and organizations doing outstanding work on behalf of the environment across the region. The physical awards given to the recipients were as unique and special as the awardees themselves and a remarkable example of wood reutilization.

Each award plaque is a large “tree cookie” with the bark left around the outer edge. The tree came from a Forest Preserves of Cook County site.

Forest Preserves of Cook County sign shop foreman Roy McNaughton designed and created them by hand. Each is about the size of  a large dinner plate: roughly 12 inches in diameter and approximately 1.5 inches thick. Each award is unique in shape, color and wood grain.

McNaughton began the transformation by using a belt sander to smooth the rough, chainsaw-cut organic surface of each cookie. Since both sides would display text for the final awards, McNaughton said they required multiple passes with various grits of sand paper to create a smooth surface. He then sealed the wood with numerous coats of clear urethane. The Chicago Wilderness logo and text were printed on a clear vinyl laminate and an additional layer of clear gloss laminate was applied to seal and protect the text. The adhesive-backed graphics were carefully cut and transferred to each cookie.

The back of each award received another laminate sheet that reads, “The Chicago Wilderness Force of Nature Awards recognize people and organizations whose environmental conservation, restoration, advocacy, and/or educational activities extend above and beyond the ordinary and are inspirational examples for others.”

McNaughton estimated that it took him about 60 hours to create all 10 award plaques. The Forest Preserves of Cook County, one of the lead partners in the Chicago Wilderness alliance, generously donated the tree from which the cookies were cut plus Roy’s time, tools and labor to create the awards.

I had the pleasure to emcee the Chicago Wilderness awards ceremony at the Chicago Botanic Garden in July. Recipients were delighted with the tree cookie plaques and eager to display them at their respective organizations.

Learn more about Chicago Wilderness’ 2017 Force of Nature & Excellence in Ecological Restoration Program.

Cherie LeBlanc Fisher works for the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station. Her current projects include the Forest Service’s Urban Forest Inventory program to collect tree and land use data in the Chicago region. She also participates in the Chicago Region Tree’s Initiative’s Tree Stewardship and Planting Team.


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



Enter Rebuilding Exchange’s Contest to Win Nick Offerman Tix

Tickets to see Nick Offerman Dec. 1 at the Chicago Theater Offerman-Woodshopawait the winners of a contest sponsored by the Rebuilding Exchange.

Offerman, best known for his portrayal of Ron Swanson in the popular sit-com Parks & Recreation, is coming to Chicago as part of his Full Bush stand-up comedy tour. HIs passion for the stage and screen is reviled by his love of woodworking. A native of southern Illinois, he operates Offerman Woodshop in Los Angeles. His newest book, “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop,” includes several solid references to using local urban woods. In the documentary film, “Felled.” Offerman weighs in on urban wood utilization.

The Rebuilding Exchange, a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to creating a market for reclaimed building materials. presents three ways to win one of three sets of tickets for Offerman’s Dec. 1 show.

1. For every $10 donated to Rebuilding Exchange, the donor receives a chance to win tickets..

2. Each registrant for a Rebuilding Exchange workshop reserved through Oct. 31 gets you a chance to win.

3. The free way to win is to follow the Rebuilding Exchange on Facebook “then tag the friend you’d like to take with you if you won and like this post.” By following the Rebuilding Exchange on Instagram, entrants can receive a second free entry.

The entry deadline is Oct. 31, 2017. Winners will be announced on Nov. 1.

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



160-Year-Old Oak Tree Begets Three Tables for Riverside’s Village Hall

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Paul Meyer of Woodstock Woodworks, left; Jessica Frances, Riverside village manager; Dan DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwood; and Michael Collins, Riverside village forester, pose with one of the three trustee tables crafted from a 160-year-old oak tree.

Three custom tables, crafted from the wood of an estimated 160-year-old oak tree downed in a March 2016 storm, were delivered earlier this month to the Riverside village hall.

The story of the tree’s transformation into the trustee tables, was chronicled by the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark. Three key players of the project included Michael Collins, village forester of Riverside; Dan DeSerto, owner of Bull Valley Hardwood; and Paul Meyer, owner of Woodstock Woodworks & Studio Ltd.

Collins was inspired to have the old oak made into something after it was bowled over by a wind storm in March 2016. He sought and got the blessing and backing of Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances and the village board of trustees. Collins called DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwoods to mill a 30-inch–diameter  log from the tree and dry the lumber it yielded. DeSerto recommended local custom woodworker Paul Meyers to create the Prairie-style furniture.

The story also gives a shout out to Edith Makra and the Illinois Utilization Team.

Read the full article.


Indy Urban Hardwood Stars in New Wood-Mizer Urban Sawmill Video Series

Wood-Mizer of Indianapolis, IN, chose to profile Indy Urban Hardwood Co. for Episode One of its Urban Sawmill Video Series.

Learn how Brian Presnell of Indy Urban Hardwood utilizes his portable sawmill to salvage fallen and diseased urban trees in Indianapolis. In addition to providing high-quality salvaged wood furniture to homeowners, Indy Urban Hardwood Co. works closely with Herron School of Art by donating salvaged wood to art students to learn woodworking.

Check out Indy Urban Hardwood’s website.