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IllinoisUrbanWood’s Top 10 Countdown

By Rich Christianson

The eyes have it!

The final votes are in and the Top 10 most-viewed posts on IllinoisUrbanWood.org are known.

Activity on the Illinois Urban Wood Utilization Team’s website finished 2016 with 7, 349 visitors who clicked through 17,412 pages. Both of these totals are more than double that of 2015.

Here’s a quick reverse-order recap of the most popularly viewed posts last year.

10. Video: Tom The Sawyer Mills Black Walnut for Figure
Tom Hogard, aka Tom The Sawyer, of Eudora, KS, demonstrates how to maximize the figure of logs with “flaws” including sweep or crotches. Read more.

9. Woodworking Enthusiasts Get a Taste of Urban Wood
Woodworkers of all ages get an opportunity to craft products from wood salvaged from Chicago Park District trees. Read more.

8. Historic Bell Tolls for Urban Wood Display
Jeff Perkis used red oak milled from one of the downed trees to create a display stand for a historic train bell. It will become a permanent exhibit at the West Chicago City Museum. Read more.

7.  Illinois Sawmill Directories Updated
The Forestry Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently released a pair of newly updated sawmill directories, one featuring custom sawyers and the other dedicated to stationary sawmilling operations. Read more.

6. Passions Flow at IWF Urban Wood Seminar
Three presenters – representing three very diverse business models – chorused their praise for urban wood during a unique seminar held Aug. 26 at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. Read more.

5. Diverse Audience Unites at Urban Wood Event
Arborists, foresters, sawyers, architects, woodworkers and other professionals came together at the Bringing the Urban Wood Full Circle Conference to learn and share ideas for propelling the urban wood market. Read more.

4. Couple ‘Sacrificed Our Entire Lives’ for Urban Wood Business
Rob and Zoe Bocik left the 9-to-5 rat race six years ago to pursue their dream of milling lumber and crafting furniture, jewelry and other products from local trees otherwise destined for the chipper or landfill. Read more.

3. Arborist Pursues His Passion with Urban Wood Start-up
Dobnick Timberworks has joined the Illinois urban wood  movement, opening up a lumber and custom wood products business in Oswego, IL. Read more.

2. Urban Wood Products Showcase Winners Strut Their Stuff
The Urban Wood Products Showcase, featured at the March 2016 Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, shined a bright spotlight on the design creativity of the entries that ranged from tables and wall hangings to a bell stand and soccer ball all crafted from urban wood. Read more.

1. First Release: Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide
A new national directory dedicated to helping connect tree care professionals, sawyers, woodworkers and other urban wood enthusiasts was recently released by the Urban Forest Full Circle Network. Read more.



Urban Wood Standards & Certification Highlight Webcast

The latest in the ongoing efforts to develop North American urban wood standards and certification was presented during the Oct. 8 Urban Wood Utilization webinar organized by the USDA Forest Service.

The two-hour program is now available on-demand.

Jennifer Alger, president of Urban, Salvaged & Reclaimed Woods, provided the update on Standards for Certification and Chain of Custody (CoC) for urban lumber that have been in the works for over a year. She said a 60-day public comment period that closed on Sept. 30 garnered feedback from stakeholders across the country and Canada.

Alger said the proposed urban lumber standards cover definitions, processing, grading, drying and chain of custody requirements. She said the standards and related certification is needed not only to create guidelines for properly managing the urban wood movement from tree removal through the lumber mill. Certifying urban lumber that meets the standards will help build awareness about urban wood’s socio-economic and environmental benefits in the marketplace.

The webinar also shed more light on the strengthening of cooperation among urban wood groups across the country. The Urban Wood Network has created a steering committee comprised of Alger, representing the west region; Joe Lehnen, forest utilization and marketing specialist for the Urban Wood Program of Virginia, east region representative; and Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products, Wisconsin representative.

Other presentations of the webinar included:

  • Outreach to Urban Wood Consumers in Wisconsin & Urban Wood Network Update by Don Peterson, executive director of Renewable Resource Solutions. 
  • Far West Forest Products – Using Salvage Wood (Wood Innovation Grant) by Alger.

  • CalFire Urban Wood Grant at work in San Diego by Cody Harrison, beyond sustainability specialist at Corona Enterprises and Tom Hamilton, CEO of LumberCycle.

The webinar was moderated by Ann Sarnecki, partnership coordinator of the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, in Madison, WI.

Watch Webinar

 



Wudeward’s Owner Shares Vision & Passion for Urban Wood in Podcast

Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products of Milwaukee, WI, was the featured guest of a recent Woodpreneur podcast, produced by Acre of Timbers.

Sperber is well known on the urban wood scene for his passionate involvement with Wisconsin Urban Wood and the Urban Wood Network. Wudeward is a business focused on supplying Wisconsin Urban Wood to architects, designs, builders and wood product manufacturers. 

Among many other things, Sperber presents his views of the current state of the urban wood movement, tips for developing a local urban wood network and how adopting industry standards – which are in the works – will help propel market demand for urban wood in the future.

Listen or watch the podcast.



NYC Declares Victory Over Long-horned Beetle

Forestry officials are celebrating the eradication of the tree-killing longhorned beetle in the urban forests of Brooklyn and Queens, its last bastions in New York City.

According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the elimination of the long-horned beetle ends a more than 10-year battle by city, state and federal agencies, plus non-governmental groups and private landowners.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated that the pesky beetle killed more than 24,000 New York trees since its arrival in Brooklyn 23 years ago. Nationwide, the tree is estimated to have been responsible for 180,000 tree deaths.

Strategies employed to eradicate the long-horned beetle included quarantines of trees and firewood, removal of 5,208 infested trees and treatment of more than 67,000 at-risk trees, the paper noted.

In announcing the beetle’s defeat, officials removed the six-year-old quarantine of Brooklyn’s urban forest.

Read the Daily Eagle’s full report.

 

 

 

 

 



How Frank Lloyd Wright Home Trees Became Furniture

 

By Steve Skorup

As an architecture teacher for 25 years at a suburban high school I would take my class to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright house and studio in Oak Park and a Habitat for Humanity home each year.

I wanted my students to be familiar with one of the world’s most famous architects and also to know where his career and the Prairie Style design developed. We visited the HFH site so they could also see affordable housing and how it meets client’s needs. In 2015 while at the FLW house I noticed an American Elm tree in front of the house had the “white dot of death” on it, meaning it was diseased and about to be removed.  I talked to the grounds care taker and he said it was the city’s responsibility since it was in the parkway.

Oak Park is a Tree City and keeps track of all its tree removals, replacements, and maintenance. I called city hall and explained about urban logging and about a higher usage of this resource. The person I spoke to said that Oak Park subcontracted large tree removal. I called the tree removal company and he said they would be removing the tree and selling it to a company that makes contractor construction planking. I explained to him what I do and where the tree was being harvested from and he said his father was a big FLW fan. I said that I would make a table for his father and his company if I could get the log. He agreed and we arranged a drop off. My partner at the time was Brandon Dobnick of Dobnick Timberworks and we had Wade Ellis of West Chicago to mill the tree into 2-1/2” thick live edge planks. These planks ranged in size from 4’ to 12’ long and 16”- 30+” wide.

After the milling and drying process was completed I was able to make the tables for the contractor, a table that took 1st place at the Sandwich County Fair, and several other tables and projects. I have the rest of the planks air drying in storage.

In 2018 I was contacted by the tree removal company and told that the next tree over from the initial tree at the FLW Home had also contracted Dutch Elm disease and would be removed. Would I be interested in it as well? Needless to say, I said yes and had those logs delivered. After sawing they will begin the air-drying process.

As an architecture teacher and a fan of FLW myself I thought others may be interested in furniture made from these historic trees. I just completed a kitchen remodel for a client friend and fellow FLW fan who had me make a live edge wine bar top and serving board for his new kitchen.

I was able to go into the FLW archives and find a picture from 1975 of the Home and Studio with the tree out front. I was unable to find any earlier pictures, but by counting the rings I figured the tree to be about 70-80 years old, so it was probably planted in the 1940s.  FLW left the home around 1909 and died in 1959 and so probably had no history with the tree. The Wright family sold the home in 1925.

I documented the removal, milling, and product construction of these items so future clients will have record of their history. I call my furniture made from specific client’s trees Heritage Furniture made from Legacy Logs and this project certainly fits that criteria. I hope this furniture with keep this valuable resource enjoyable for future generations.

Contact Skorup at sawinc.skorup@gmail.com.

Read related article about Skorup: Making the Transition from Teaching to Running an Urban Wood Business

 

 

 



Forest Service Slates Urban Wood Utilization Webinar for Oct. 8


The U.S. Forest Service is relaunching the semi-annual Urban Wood Utilization Webinar series with an update on standards for certification and chain of custody for urban, salvaged and reclaimed woods

The webinar is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

The webinar will also include regional reports of the urban wood movements. Confirmed speakers include Don Peterson, executive director of Renewable Resource Solutions, who was instrumental in the launch of the Urban Wood Network, and Jennifer Alger, CEO of Far West Forest Products and president of Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods Inc.

No pre-registration is required to watch the webinar. Simply log into usfs.adobeconnect.com/uwu. 

The last Urban Wood Utilization Webinar was held in April 2018. Since then, Ed Cesa, the former host, has retired from the U.S. Forest Service.

Ann Sarnecki, partnership coordinator of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, is now in charge of the webinars.

 Click here to access archived webinars dating back to early 2015.



Wood-Mizer’s New SlabMizer Flattens Wide Slabs

With the growing demand for high-quality finished wood slabs in the woodworking industry, Wood-Mizer of Indianapolis introduced the SlabMizer MB200 Slab Flattener ideal for sawmill owners, woodworkers, and professional workshops. Built in the USA, Wood-Mizer said the SlabMizer efficiently surfaces and flattens wood slabs, boards, burls, cookies, and other wide material with minimal labor.

Compared to a traditional router or planer, Wood-MIzer said the SlabMizer flattens wider and thicker material up to 56 inches wide and 8 inches thick in less time using powered cutter head directional controls with variable feed speed. For larger capacity, a 5-foot modular table extension can be added to increase the material length. The company said a 72-inch width option is coming soon. 

SlabMizer Features

  • 56-inch maximum material width and 8-inch maximum thickness

  • 13-foot material length or longer with 5-foot modular table extensions 

  • Powered cutter head directional controls with variable feed speed or manual feed

  • 5,500 rpm 5-inch cutter head with five four-sided carbide knives

  • Orbital sanding head attachment for fine finishes

Greg Bacon, sales director of Wood-Mizer, said, “The SlabMizer satisfies the needs of operations producing high-value finished slabs and reduces the manual labor required to finish these wide slabs that are extremely valuable in the woodworking industry.”

For more information, visit woodmizer.com.



Wisconsin Urban Wood Slates Webinar for A&D Pros

Wisconsin Urban Wood and the Wisconsin DNR, in partnership with the Urban Wood Network, are organizing a webinar for architects and designers. Urban Wood: Using Local Materials to Enhance Design & Sustainabilty on Projects is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2. The program is 

The type of material used in a construction project has a significant effect on the project’s sustainability and wellness goals. When considering using wood in a project, many architects and designers look for materials that are certified, salvaged or reclaimed. While these types of wood are sourced responsibly, they often are not sourced locally. Urban wood provides a responsible and locally sourced option for wood building materials.

This webinar will introduce attendees to urban wood, explain what it is, where it comes from, grade, characteristics, and considerations when sourcing. The presentation will explore how wood can support sustainability goals such as supporting the local economy, reducing waste, and how the use of wood can achieve wellness goals on a project.

The webinar is AIA approved for 1.5 LU|HSWs.

To register for this webinar visit surveymonkey.com/r/wiurbanwood.

Speakers
Maggie Pipek: Licensed Architect in WI, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP Sustainability Specialist, NCARB, USGBC, Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Member

Dwayne Sperber: Founder and owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products, Wisconsin Urban Wood Founding Member, Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Member

Learning Objectives

  • Identify applications for urban wood on projects and understand urban wood as a resource available to the construction industry, especially in light of the devastation from disease and insect.
  • Understand how to correctly specify urban wood for a project; ensuring that the architect, contractor and millworker acknowledge the considerations that are unique to urban wood.
  • Understand how choosing wood as a building or finish material can support the environmental and wellness goals on a project.
  • Understand requirements for WELL feature 87 Beauty and Design and feature 88 Biophilia.

This presentation is provided with support from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

 



Fiserv Forum Design Firm Wins Wisconsin Urban Wood Use Award

Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA), one of three design teams hired by the Milwaukee Bucks to design Fiserv Forum, received the second annual Wisconsin Urban Wood Utilization Award. The award was presented during a June 20 ceremony on EUA’s Milwaukee office rooftop terrace.

The award celebrates the innovative use of urban wood – beautiful, rich, unique lumber sourced from trees located on urban streets, in parks, on residential land or on commercial property. In the case of Fiserv Forum, all urban wood came from trees that once lived in Wisconsin, and much of it was reclaimed from Milwaukee’s urban areas.

Materials used in Fiserv Forum were selected to represent Wisconsin’s rich past of wooded landscapes and industrial manufacturing. EUA is being honored for using local white oak lumber in establishing the Northwoods-inspired look and feel of the concourses, incorporating urban wood-added texture, warmth and character to the spaces.

“When developing the design for Fiserv Forum, it was important that we consider sustainable wood that had a story,” says Jeremy Hackbart, senior project architect for EUA. “Wisconsin Urban Wood and the repurposed white oak we selected have direct ties to the local community and state. Whether they realize it or not, patrons walking through the concourses will be surrounded by wood from trees that once grew here – not trees harvested as building materials, but trees that were allowed to live out their lives in an urban environment, and then hand-selected for a second life in this stunning environment.”

EUA worked with Wisconsin Urban Wood supplier Wudeward Urban Forest Products to source nearly 20,000 board feet of urban white oak lumber that was used to make bar ceilings, concession fronts, and harvest tables on the main and upper concourses. The oak was installed in random widths to showcase the natural deviation of grain, knots, and clarity from one board to the next. The application spreads throughout the facility in an homage to the massive shade tree.

EUA also used upcycled Wisconsin Urban Wood for the dramatic 18-foot backdrop developed as the main feature in the exclusive BMO Club, a premium space located near the players’ tunnel, where guests can enjoy a lounge-like atmosphere before taking their seats. This visually stimulating mosaic was assembled from 3.5-inch squares of upcycled cherry, walnut and maple Wisconsin Urban Wood end grain pieces, machined with varying depths.

Understanding Urban Wood
When urban trees need to be removed due to failing health, damage, or construction, urban wood stewards, like Wisconsin Urban Wood, reclaim these magnificent resources, saving them from wood chippers and firewood piles to be used to their highest purpose. These organizations assure the trees are processed into lumber, giving the trees a second life as sound, usable boards that are perfect for flooring or millwork; decorative planks for architectural woodwork including doors, cabinets, stairs, and railings; and uniquely characterized planks for interior finish work like wainscoting, wall cladding, molding and trim.

Architects, interior designers, builders, homeowners, developers, manufacturers and furniture makers around the country recognize that using reclaimed urban wood not only repurposes these trees to their highest potential, but utilizes an abundant resource that, if resourced regularly, could fulfill almost one third of the country’s annual hardwood needs.

About Fiserv Forum
Fiserv Forum is a preeminent sports and entertainment arena in downtown Milwaukee that opened on Aug. 26, 2018. The building was awarded LEED Silver earlier this year. Designed by Populous, Eppstein Uhen Architects and HNTB, the venue offers incomparable sightlines, customer service, technology and amenities. Fiserv Forum includes 17,341 seats for basketball and up to 18,000 for concerts, with 34 luxury suites and three clubs. The new venue hosts a diverse variety of events, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette University men’s basketball, major concerts, family shows and other sports and entertainment events, and has been selected to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. In addition to Fiserv, Founding Partners for Fiserv Forum include BMO Harris Bank, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Johnson Controls and Miller Brewing Company.

About Eppstein Uhen Architects
Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) is best known for designing environments that elevate people’s potential. More than 230 employees in Milwaukee, Madison, Des Moines and Denver demonstrate unparalleled commitment to the markets, communities and clients they serve. The respected 112-year old firm specializes in several markets including education, workplace, healthcare, senior living, student housing, mixed-use, entertainment and science + technology. 

About Wisconsin Urban Wood
Wisconsin Urban Wood (WUW) is a network of companies and organizations committed to the social, economic and ecological benefits of urban trees. WUW’s independent businesses and organizations are part of a 501c3 nonprofit network that reclaims urban trees for their highest and best uses – first for their environmental benefits as living healthy trees, and next for their wood after their growing years are over. WUW collaborates to divert removed trees from waste streams and is inspiring behavior changes and practices to maximize utilization of urban and community forest products. 

The Wisconsin Urban Wood Utilization Award is a sponsored award category presented by Wudeward Urban Forest products and funded in part by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division and the U.S. Forest Service.  These institutions are equal opportunity providers. 

About Populous
Populous is a global architecture and design firm that designs the places where people love to be together, like Yankee Stadium, the London Olympics, and the Super Bowl. Over the last 36 years, the firm has designed more than 3,000 projects worth $40 billion across the world’s top cities, including the designing and planning of more than 85 arena projects ranging in size from collegiate facilities to major NHL and NBA venues. Designs for places like Fiserv Forum, T-Mobile Arena, Amway Center and Ford Center create emotional connections between people and the civic, sports and entertainment places and events they love best. Populous has 18 offices on four continents with regional centers in Kansas City, London and Brisbane. 

About Mortenson
­Mortenson is a U.S.-based, top-20 builder, developer and provider of energy and engineering services committed to helping organizations move their strategies forward. Mortenson’s expanding portfolio of integrated services ensures that its customers’ investments result in high-performing assets. The result is a turnkey partner, fully invested in the business success of its customers. Founded in 1954, Mortenson has operations across North America with offices in Chicago, Denver, Fargo, Iowa City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and in Canada. Mortenson has been a staple in the Milwaukee community for over 30 years working with customers including Kohler Company, Aurora Health Care, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, the Milwaukee Bucks, and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. Mortenson’s Milwaukee operations employs more than 300 craft workers and professional team members. 

 



Texas Urban Wood Firm Focuses on ‘Tree to Home’

Refined Elements, of Dripping Springs, TX, near Austin, along with its subsidiary Texas Sawmill, is engaged in transforming trees salvaged from Texas and nearby states into “naturally inspired furniture” and other custom wood products.

Devin Ginther, president, founded Refined Elements in 2013 , as a live edge furniture business. He said he stated Texas Sawmill in late 2017. “We are working to become the largest urban sawmill in Texas,” Ginther said. He hastened to add. “(That’s) not saying much as there’s not much of a sawmill industry here.”

Ginther said he is an “active member” of the Urban Wood Network “We are focused on being advocates for the urban lumber movement in Texas. As a state, we are far behind (others) but are working to change that!”  

The photos that accompany this post are but two examples of live edge tables milled by Texas Sawmill and transformed into furniture by Refined Elements. 

“All of our tables are produced from salvaged and rural trees,” Ginther said. “We also provide the history of the trees on the bottom of all of our tables along with paper certificates. Most of the slabs used to produce these tables, we physically salvage ourselves, mill, dry, etc.  We do all the metal and base work in-house, too. 

The first live edge table in the slide show is made from a black walnut that was removed in Longmont, CO. It is believed to date back to 1867.

The other live edge table shown is from a Texas pecan born in approximately 1904 in Brackettville, TX.  

Learn more at refinedelements.com and txurbansawmill.com.

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