Monthly archives: January, 2016

Daily Double Discount: Hardwood Lumber & Urban Forest Events

save-moneyBy Rich Christianson

The countdown continues…

In eight weeks the Illinois Wood Utilization Team (IL WUT) will present a pair of special education events of interest to all participants of full circle urban forestry and urban wood markets. This especially includes all stakeholders along the urban wood market supply chain from public a private landowners and managers to tree care professionals and sawyers right on through architects and woodworkers.

The events – in order of appearance – are:

Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop, Thursday, March 17 at the historic Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, IL.

Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, Friday, March 18 at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, IL.

Both programs feature live portable sawmilling demonstrations.

IL WUT has made every effort to offer each of these full-day programs high in value and low in cost. As an additional incentive, anyone registering to attend both programs can save an additional $35. The Daily Double package is $175 vs. $210 to register separately for the events.

Early-Bird Registration Ends February 29
Not only is the clock ticking until the start of the events, it is also ticking down to the end of early bird registration and early-bird savings.

Register by Monday, February 29 to lock in the lowest registration pricing.

 Register by >>>


Feb. 29

Feb. 21 to
March 16
Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop  $85.00  $110.00 $135.00
Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference  $125.00  $150.00  $175.00
 Daily Double (Both Programs)  $175.00  $215.00  $260.00

Need a Place to Stay?
The Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus is the headquarters hotel for both events. Click here to reserve a room.

Interested in Sponsorship & Display Opportunities?
Three levels of sponsorships are available for the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference: Ash, Oak & Walnut. Sponsorships fees include a display table and one to three conference registrations.

Got Questions?
Contact Rich Christianson, Conference Director,; phone 773-822-6750.



Urban Wood Conference Topics Go Full Circle

ILWUT_LogoA faculty of more than one dozen passionate and learned professionals, culled from all links of the urban wood supply chain, will share their knowledge and expertise at the inaugural Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference.

The conference, organized by the Illinois Wood Utilization Team (IL WUT), is set for Friday, March 18, 2016 at world famous Hamburger University on McDonald’s world wide corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, IL.

Edith Makra, chairperson of IL WUT, will kick off the conference with an overview of the growing but still largely untapped source of lumber and high-value wood products that could potentially be made from wood salvaged from end-of-life private and public community trees. Her presentation will set the stage for subsequent presentations that will highlight best practices for removing urban trees to optimize lumber recovery, strategies for successfully milling urban wood to manufacture salable products and marketing and retailing urban wood products that appeal to the burgeoning source local, buy local movement.

Invited presenters include urban wood proponents representing Milwaukee, WI; Ann Arbor, MI; and Chicago. In addition, case studies will illustrate real-world urban wood success stories, including i2i Design, a Chicago-area custom woodworking company that supplies displays, furniture and decorative millwork crafted from locally-sourced urban wood for the likes of Starbucks, Mariano’s and others.

The “greenness” of urban wood will be thoroughly explored in multiple presentations including by Laureen Blissard, a LEED certified architect, and Paul Pettigrew, who is teaching the next generation of architects and designers about the potential of urban wood for use in furniture, architectural details and other wood products.

Purdue University Prof. Daniel Cassens, a leading authority of North American hardwood lumber, will discuss urban wood’s place in hardwood markets. He will also conduct live portable sawmill demonstrations using logs felled at McDonald’s corporate campus. (Cassens will also present a full-day Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop, Thursday, March 17 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook.)

The full-day event will also include plenty of networking, table-top displays by companies and groups invested in the urban wood market and an Urban Wood Products Showcase of furniture, artistic objects and other products crafted by students and professionals using urban wood.

View Conference Schedule & Details.

For more information, contact Rich Christianson, conference director, at or 773-822-6750.



Urban Wood Boardwalk Cuts a Path to South Side Corner’s Renewal

An urban wood boardwalk will cut across a vacant lot at the busy corner of 79th St. & Halsted on Chicago's South Side.

An urban wood boardwalk will cut across a vacant lot at the busy corner of 79th St. & Halsted on Chicago’s South Side.

The boardwalk uses random lengths of honey locust, black locust and white oak milled from community trees .

The boardwalk uses random lengths of honey locust, black locust and white oak milled from community trees .

urban wood boardwalk

The foundation grid for the urban wood boardwalk is constructed of weather-treated 2x4s..

By Rich Christianson

A boardwalk being installed across a vacant lot at 79th Street and Halsted Avenue on Chicago’s South Side unites urban wood with urban renewal.

It is hoped that the boardwalk, which is scheduled to be completed this spring, will lure developers to bring new commercial business to the busy corner. Completion of the boardwalk will be marked by the dismantling of the chain linked fence that has surrounded the 13,000-square-foot lot since a three-story terra cotta building that last housed a Walgreen’s store more than a decade ago was demolished in February 2012. The property has been owned by the city of Chicago since 2004.

The boardwalk, not quite half completed, consists of random length planks of black locust, honey locust and white oak milled from community trees removed in Chicago and its suburbs. Wood for the project was procured from Horigan Urban Wood Products of Skokie. The boardwalk’s construction is being carried out by trainees of Greencorps, a program that offers adults career paths in the landscape and tree care industries.

Edde Jones, program director of Greencorps, said the program, based out of the Center for Green Technology at 4445 N. Sacramento Blvd., has evolved substantially over its two decades in existence. Jones said during its first 15 years or so, Greencorps mainly focused on installing or improving community gardens. “Now we’re looking more at improving public spaces in the city or county, such as the Cook County Forest Preserves,” she said.

Trainees who pass muster through a vetting process are paid to participate in a nearly one-year program. Among the things they are taught are basic horticulture, plant identification, and understanding the difference between desirable plants vs. non-desirable plants for various landscaping or restoration projects. They also learn how to safely use chainsaws, chippers and sprayers. “We have trainees who test for their pesticide license,” Jones said.

The end game of the program, which typically has about 30 trainees at a time, is to find full-time jobs for the graduates. “We don’t have as many people in our programs as the industry needs,” Jones said.

Inspired by Urban Wood
Jones said she was inspired to incorporate urban wood into the boardwalk project following a discussion with Edith Makra, chairperson of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team.

“We’re always looking at new projects to challenge our trainees with and to have them look at the world a little differently than they usually look at it,” Jones said. “Our trainees have helped the Chicago Park District remove trees after a huge storm. To see how trees can get reused to make something adds an element to their experience that gets them to think what else can happen to a tree after it is removed beyond just being fed into a chipper.”

The boardwalk will extend more than 160 feet in a meandering diagonal direction from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of the lot. It was designed by Jay Womack of WRD Environmental, a contracted partner of Greencorps.

Kyle Williams of WRD Environmental is project manager of the Greencorps training program. He explained that the project will use more than 4,000 board feet of urban wood planks ranging from about 48 inches to 60 inches in length. The 1-1/2-inch unfinished planks, kiln dried to about 12%, are spaced apart similar to a deck to allow for expansion and for rainwater to run off. The planks are being placed in random order and are by steel screws drilled into a grid of 8-foot by 2-foot rectangular frames made with treated 2x4s.

“We know that a lot of people are looking to use urban ash and it’s great of interior use, but the wood just does not hold up to the elements and Chicago climate,” Williams said. “Bruce Horigan (of Horigan Urban Wood Products) was very helpful in leading us to our three wood choices because of their ability to withstand the elements.”

Next Steps
The Greencorps team awaits spring and better weather to complete the boardwalk project. It will also include a handful of small plants and signage explaining where the wood for the boardwalk came from, plus a little history about the site itself.

“The community group we’ve worked with wanted an environmental theme and they liked the urban wood reuse from the get-go,” Jones said. “That’s what we’re trying to relay We can’t make it too pretty because this is meant to be a temporary installment but we do want everyone to feel comfortable in the space.”

“It will be interesting to see how the wood weathers,” Jones added. “This is new territory for us. Because the urban wood is not being treated with anything it’s just going to wear the way it is. If the project is successful, we could take the boardwalk down and use the wood elsewhere.”

“It’s a little bit of an experiment,” Williams said. “I’m not too familiar with many people using urban wood the way we are using it. I’m curious to see how the black locust reacts to weathering versus the white oak or the honey locust.

“Of all of our projects to date, this one has generated the most community interest.” Williams continued. “The residents seem very anxious and excited to see what’s going to put in there.”

Learn more and “Like” Greencorps Chicago.

Film Opens Eyes to the Wondrous Potential of Urban Wood

Felled, Urban WoodWhat is a tree worth? What does a second chance look like? What can it mean to a family?

These and other questions are examined in Felled, an inspirational new feature length documentary film about urban lumber.

The film follows Silas and James as they build a family dinner table bringing new life to a dead Aleppo pine tree that otherwise would have gone into the landfill. The table represents one victory among myriad missed opportunities as most trees after they die are treated as trash.

Felled aptly demonstrates that urban trees can be put to a higher purpose.

The film was produced by Tiny Chairs of Tempe, AZ.

Check out the trailer below; learn more at




Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop Set for March 17

Dan-Cassens-Sawmill-DemoProf. Dan Cassens, a leading authority on North American hardwoods, will present a full-day program focused on hardwoods sawing, grading, drying and more.

The Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, March 17 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st Street, Oak Brook, IL. The full-day program, is presented in special cooperation with the DuPage County Forest Preserves, by the Purdue University Department of Wood Products and the Illinois Wood Utilization Team. The workshop, precedes the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference set for Friday, March18 at Hamburger University also in Oak Brook.

The workshop will include classroom presentations and a live portable sawmill demonstration.

Topics include:

  • Wood Quality & Characteristics
  • Log Scaling
  • Hardwood Lumber Grading & Pricing
  • Sawing Patterns & Grade Sawing
  •  Determining Veneer Quality Logs
  • Wood Moisture & Drying
  • Stain & Insects
  • Selling & Marketing Custom Wood Products

Cassens, who also operates Cassens Lumber,  has presented this hardwood workshop to dozens of appreciative audiences throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Content for the workshop is based on his book, “Manufacturing and Marketing Eastern Hardwood Lumber Produced by Thin Kerf Band Mills.”

Registration Discount Package
Registration for the Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop is $85 and includes lunch if made by February 29 ($110 after and $135 onsite.) A $35 discount package is available for attendees who register for both the Hardwood Workshop and the Full Circle Urban Forest Conference (View schedule).

Learn more and register for the Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop.

Badge pickup and onsite registration opens at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 17. The program will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Rich Christianson, conference director, at 773-822-6750 or





Urban Wood Utilization Fits Community’s Utopian Vision

Sustainable Atwood, Urban Forest

Sustainable Atwood’s 2011 i-tree inventory counted 8,078 community trees comprised of more than 100 species.

Urban wood use is part of Sustainable Atwood’s utopian vision for a sustainable greater Madison, WI, community that can be modeled by others throughout the nation and beyond.

“Our mission is to make ‘sustainable’ the norm by helping neighborhoods thrive as models of social, economic, and ecological well-being,” state’s the group’s website:

Sustainable Atwood encompasses the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara neighborhood that 6,000 residents call home. The organization’s projects include solar, metro and urban forest programs and projects. The website also includes a 2011 report on the community’s combined public and private tree inventory, which numbered 8,078. Maples made up 28% of the tree canopy followed by ash, 11%; and northern hackberry and honey locust at 5% each..

Sustainable Atwood project goals include:

  • Developing a resilient urban forest supported by a robust urban forest economy;
  • Creating a carbon neutral neighborhood;
  • “Growing all of our own food –including our pantries – on our public and private land;”
  • Promoting walking and biking over travel by car; and
  • Maximizing organic matter composting to become a “zero garbage community.”


International Woodworking Fair Supports Urban Wood Conference

IWF2014 LogoThe International Woodworking Fair (IWF), North America’s largest woodworking event, is lending its support to the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, Friday, March 18 at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, IL.

IWF has signed on as a partner sponsor of the unique event being organized by the Illinois Wood Utilization Team.

The Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference will bring together public and private land managers, arborists, architects and designers, sawyers, woodworkers and other entrepreneurs to share and learn next-step actions to participate in a market-driven source local, buy local urban wood economy. The unique conference will focus on industry best practices for everything from urban tree removal and milling through wood manufacturing and marketing the distinct local appeal of urban wood products.

“The utilization of urban wood for wood manufacturing is an important new market for the industry,” said Tom Onsrud, IWF 2016 Chairman and President of C.R. Onsrud of Troutman, NC. “We support efforts to salvage the highest valued use from urban trees.”

“We thank the organizers of IWF for their cooperation with our program,” said Rich Christianson, conference director for the Illinois Wood Utilization Team. “They understand that there is an opportunity for many public and private community trees that are felled because of insect infestation, storm damage or other reasons to be converted into lumber and ultimately used for making custom furniture, cabinets and other wood products.

“The urban wood movement is not just a Midwest phenomenon,” Christianson added. “The emerald ash borer has killed more than 250 million ash trees in more than 20 states and several Canadian provinces. Its deadly rampage has given cause for federal, state, county and local governments to think beyond simply chipping and mulching ash and other landscape trees in the urban forest. This growing awareness has led to the creation and rapid growth of a cottage industry that encompasses tree care companies, sawyers, woodworkers and even hardwood retailers across the country.”

The Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference will include a dozen informative presentations, a live portable sawmilling demonstration, tabletop displays and a networking reception. In addition, furniture and other functional and artistic objects crafted by woodworking professionals and students will be displayed in the Urban Wood Products Showcase.

The full-day program will be preceded by a Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop presented by Prof. Dan Cassens of Purdue University Thursday, March 17 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, IL.

Learn More and Register
To learn more about attending the conference or sponsorship and display opportunities, visit

Questions about the conference should be directed to Rich Christianson, conference director, at 773-822-6750 or

About the International Woodworking Fair
The International Woodworking Fair, owned by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, is North America’s largest woodworking event. IWF 2016 is scheduled for August 24-27, 2016 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. It is the “must attend” show for supplies, manufacturing and processing of materials for the furniture, cabinetry, flooring, door and window, plastics, solid surfacing and machine tooling industries. IWF 2014 attracted more than 23,000 woodworking professionals and industry suppliers from the U.S., Canada and beyond. Learn more at

About the Illinois Wood Utilization Team Founded in 2009, the Illinois Wood Utilization Team is a network of land managers, professionals in the wood products industry, natural resource and green building experts and artisans dedicated to promoting and developing a sustainable market place for achieving the best possible use of trees felled in the urban forest. The Illinois WUT is part of a four-state grant project funded through the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area. Other grant partners include the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council and Recycle Ann Arbor; the Missouri Department of Conservation; and the Sustainable Resources Institute Inc. and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

What to Do with Urban Wood Event Rescheduled to Jan. 21

The What to Do with Urban Wood: A Symposium on Large Scale Urban Tree Removal & Utilization event has been rescheduled fro Thursday, Jan. 21 due to weather conditions.

symposium209214The program, originally scheduled for Jan. 7, was postponed due to weather conditions.

The morning conference session will be held at the Somers Town Hall in Somers, WI. During the afternoon session at nearby Petrifying Springs Park & Golf Course, attendees will be able to observe urban tree felling and removal operations with mechanized logging equipment.

The program is being organized by the Sustainable Resources Institute, Kenosha County Parks Department, WDNR Division of Forestry, USDA Forest Services’ Forest Products Marketing Unit, and Wisconsin Urban Wood.

Registration is $20 per person and includes lunch. Click here to view the event schedule and register:

For additional information, contact Kari Devine at or 877-284-3882.