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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 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.

World Demand for Massive Wood Slabs to Surpass $2B By 2030

Lumber Shack wood slab inventory.


According to a new report by FactMR, the massive wood slabs market is expected to show a positive growth outlook in the coming years. This is attributed to increasing per capita spending and improving lifestyle in developing regions.

In developed regions, demand for wooden furniture has seen a significant upsurge over the last few years, due to the various benefits that this type of furniture offers, such as high durability and better aesthetics as compared to metal furniture. Customers prefer customized furniture, as it allows them to decorate their house and office space as per specific requirements. Therefore, wooden furniture is favored over metal furniture, as it offers ease for customization.

Massive wood slabs are large pieces of wood cut from trees, and are used in furniture and cabinetry. They are preferred due to the desire to have different texture and moisture content in furniture, which gives off an appearance unique to different wood types. Therefore, it is projected that, demand for massive wood slabs will grow significantly in near future, expanding the massive wood slabs market size to a great extent.

Massive Wood Slabs Market Analysis by Wood Type
As the popularity of wood furniture is growing across developed regions, manufacturers or sawmill owners are introducing wood slabs of different wood species into their product portfolios. Companies are focusing on maximizing their massive wood slabs offering list.

Different species offer numerous advantages in different weather conditions, such as optimized durability, adequate moisture control, different aesthetics, etc. In Fact.MR’s study, it is revealed that, mahogany and rosewood are the most popular wood types in the global massive wood slabs market, and they are projected to collectively create an absolute $ opportunity worth US$ 245 million during the forecast period of 2020 to 2030.

Massive Wood Slabs Market Analysis by Sales Channel
Global emergence of the e-Commerce sales channel has influenced the wood industry on a huge scale. In developed countries, leading wood industry players have either established their own e-Commerce sites or have made their products available on other popular e-Commerce portals.

Several companies have also started dedicated e-Commerce sites for wood products. For instance, U.S.-based wood products company KC Custom Hardwoods has started its own e-Commerce website for the sale of its massive wood slabs across the country. Another U.S.-based company, The Lumber Shack, has tied up with an international e-Commerce site for sale of its products, internationally.

In Fact.MR’s study, the timber online stores sales channel in poised to witness the fastest growth at a CAGR 5%, and account for around 17% value share of the global massive wood slabs market by the end of the forecast period.

Regional Outlook of Massive Wood Slabs Market
Developed regions such as North America and Europe dominate the global massive wood slabs market share, with a combined share of around 59%. High per capita income and improved lifestyle have led to maximum consumption of massive wood slabs in these regions. However, developing regions such as Asia Pacific are also showing a positive growth outlook, and are expected to create enormous opportunities for massive wood slab manufacturers in the coming years. In Fact.MR’s study, East Asia and South Asia & Oceania are projected to showcase growth at CAGR of 5.4% and 5.6%, respectively, during the forecast period.

Massive Wood Slabs Market Competitive Analysis: Key Players Focus on Expanding Product Portfolio
The global massive wood slabs market is fragmented in nature, with small, privately-owned saw mills serving the maximum number of customers. Leading players are focusing on introducing various wood species into their product portfolios in order to offer a variety of massive wood slabs that suit the particular requirements of customers, such as different weather conditions and aesthetics.

For instance, Cook Woods, an Orlando, U.S.-based wood products company, introduced massive wood slabs of more than 250 wood species into its product offering list.

COVID-19 Impact on Massive Wood Slabs Market
The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is burgeoning, as nationwide lockdowns across most countries is ongoing. Most companies have had to either stop production or work with less than half capacity due to the imposition of restrictions. Apart from this, the supply chain has also been impacted, substantially, and retail avenues such as furniture showrooms have been shut for now.

Movement in the global massive wood slabs market has been observed to be sluggish in the first two quarters of 2020. However, some relaxation in lockdown measures is implemented in most countries, which has enabled the resuming of businesses to some extent. But as we speak, some countries are again imposing stringent lockdowns as infection rates spike once again. For instance, on July 7 2020, the Government of Australia announced a six-week stringent lockdown in Melbourne. Such developments are poised to cause sluggish growth of the global massive wood slabs market over the next couple of fiscal quarters of 2020.

Global Massive Wood Slabs Market: Scope of the Report
Fact.MR published an exclusive forecast report on the massive wood slabs market for the period of 2020-2030. The foremost objective of the massive wood slabs market report is to pitch spearhead insights on the market scenario, demand generators, and technological advancements in the market. Also, the massive wood slabs market study addresses key dynamics that are expected to diversify the adoption and future prominence of massive wood slabs.                 

The report on the massive wood slabs market begins with an executive overview, in which, product definition has been provided. The report further proceeds with the taxonomy of the massive wood slabs market, elaborating on key segments. The report also outlines visionary insights on the dynamics of the massive wood slabs market, including the drivers, restraints, opportunities, trends, and pricing analysis, along with key buying factors.

Learn more.


Urban Wood Movement’s Growth Focus of IWF Connect Webinar

Slide 1: Jim Evans of Far West Forest Products salvaging urban walnut logs.
Slide 2: Wisconsin Urban Wood supplied by Wudeward Urban Forest Products lends warmth to the otherwise sleek modern design of American Family Insurance’s headquarters in Madison, WI.
Slide 3: Eutree created this heavy-duty urban wood table that commands a strong presence even in this cavernous kitchen.  

Free presentation will highlight opportunities for woodworking companies to leverage the unique characteristics, local appeal and environmental benefits of using urban wood.

ATLANTA – The Urban Wood Network (UWN), in partnership with the International Woodworking Fair (IWF), will present a free webinar, “The Urban Wood Movement: Expanding from Coast to Coast.”

The special presentation will be available on demand during IWF Connect, a virtual tradeshow and conference scheduled for Oct. 26-30, 2020. The webinar is sponsored by Urban Wood Network and the Georgia Forestry Commission through funding from the U.S. Forest Service.

Rich Christianson, editor and publisher of, will moderate the session that will feature a trio of experts. They will discuss urban wood’s unique characteristics, local appeal, environmental advantages, how to find local sources, business benefits and more.

The three presenters, all members of the Urban Wood Network, include: 

  • Jennifer Alger, CEO of Far West Forest Products based in Sheridan, CA. Far West is a family-owned logging and sawmilling business that actively promotes the use of local native species and underutilized logs including reclaimed urban wood.
  • Carmen Rodriguez, co-owner and chief marketing officer of Eutree based in Villa Rica, GA. Eutree is a boutique lumber mill that partners with local tree services to repurpose trees removed the Atlanta area for lumber, flooring, slabs and more.
  • Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products based in Milwaukee, WI. Wudeward exclusively sources Wisconsin Urban Wood in working with architects, interior designers, builders, homeowners, developers, manufacturers and furniture makers nationwide.The IWF Connect webinar follows successful urban wood seminars held at IWF 2016 and IWF 2018.

“It’s amazing how far the urban wood movement has advanced since we held the first seminar at IWF 2016,” Christianson said. “Since then, the Urban Wood Network has emerged as a rapidly expanding national association representing stakeholders up and down the entire supply chain including arborists, sawyers and custom woodworkers. We’re looking forward to sharing the latest information, including the creation of national standards and certification of urban wood lumber and products that will help drive increased market demand.”

“Lumber produced from urban wood can be utilized in a broad range of scales ranging from one-of-a-kind custom furniture pieces to large-scale construction projects,” said Don Peterson, executive director of the Urban Wood Network. “As detrimental as the wide sweeping urban tree mortality has been to communities, it has also made large volumes of urban wood available for conversion into lumber, providing enough resource for large scale projects.”

Both the Urban Wood Network and Georgia Forestry Commission will participate in the virtual exhibition. Register to attend IWF Connect for free at

For more information about the IWF Connect urban wood webinar contact Christianson at or phone 773-822-6750.


About the Urban Wood Network
The Urban Wood Network (UWN) is a national association established to inform, collaborate and connect to build business and consumer confidence in the urban wood industry. UWN’s membership includes municipalities, government agencies, arborists, saw mills, woodworkers and other stakeholders in the United States, plus Canada and other countries. Learn more about the UWN and membership benefits at  Some activities are funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Forest Products Marketing Unit.  USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

About the International Woodworking Fair & IWF Connect
The International Woodworking Fair, owned by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, is North America’s largest industrial woodworking event. IWF 2020, which was scheduled to take place August 25-28 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, IWF is organizing IWF Connect, a virtual tradeshow and conference October 26-30. Registration to attend the exhibition is free. Learn more and register at

‘Save Your Ash’ Campaign Comes to My Hood

By Rich Christianson

During a recent power walk through my neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side, I passed a tree sporting an unfamiliar green tag emblazoned with the word “WARNING” in red capital letters.

I paused to read the full text of the tag:

SAVE THIS TREE and preserve our canopy”

The tag included the website for the North River Commission’s (RNC) Save Your Ash campaign.

According to the website, Chicago has lost 42,000 of the 94,000 parkway ash trees it had in 2013 when it began inoculating them against the emerald ash borer (EAB). The city has since thrown in the towel in its battle against the deadly emerald beetle and instead plans to remove diseased ash trees and replace them with other species.

The RNC Commission, however, is not joining the city in surrender. It advocates inoculating older, larger ash trees while removing smaller, infected trees as “a more cost-effective and sustainable solution that will preserve the integrity and canopy over a longer period of time.”

The commission has partnered with a treatment supplier to provide an average 30% discount on injections reportedly effective for up to three years. The website includes contact information for several tree care companies, each an approved vendor of the treatment supplier. They include Davey, Kinnucan, SavATree and TruGreen.

“Because treatment extends the life of Ash trees, the NRC Save Your Ash program will preserve the integrity of the local tree canopy in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.” the RNC states. “Chicago’s parkway trees will be selectively removed and replaced without cutting down swaths of trees that leave parkways bare.”

The RNC is seeking individual homeowners with ash trees to contact approved vendors for treatment. The organization is also asking all community members to make a tax deductible donation to fund treatment of selected ash trees throughout the River North 

North River Commission is a nonprofit community and economic development corporation for the northwest side of Chicago, from the Chicago River to Cicero and Addison to Devon.

Learn more about the RNC’s Save Your Ash campaign.

Read related article: Chicago Neighborhood Takes a Stand to Save Ash Trees


Urban Hardwoods Christens New Showroom

Urban Hardwoods new showroom in Bellevue, WA, opened Aug. 22.

Urban Hardwoods held a grand opening Aug. 22 for its new showroom in the Brierwood Shopping Center, Bellevue, WA. The 2,500-plus-square-foot facility replaced the company’s former Seattle showroom.

“(That) may not seem like much, but it is actually a fair amount for our specialty business and during COVID times,” Gnehm said. “We were not sure what the turn-out would be and we’re prepared to stagger visitors as a safety precaution. Out our entire team thought it was very important to have a formal announcement/event of our new location, COVID-time or not. We received a lot of support from the community about the opening via email and phone calls from clients and members of the community (who viewed) celebrating a new business opening during these times as a good sign in 2020. During the grand opening, several of our tables found a new home with customers – which is always special.”

Urban Hardwoods specializes in crafting custom live-edge tables and furniture from locally salvaged wood predominantly sourced felled urban trees within a 20-mile radius of its workshop in Seattle. The company’s main customers include Interior designers, homeowners and commercial clients such as hotels, corporations and restaurants. “We receive a lot of attention from hobbyists and professional woodworkers. and they are always welcome, but they are not part of our customer base generally,” Gnehm said.

Gnehm said customer reactions to salvaged urban wood furnishings have evolved considerably over the past three years.

Urban Hardwoods allows customers to hand pick a slab to be made into a custom table.

“I think three years ago, customers were more cautious about ‘salvaged wood’ and ‘local custom furniture,’ sometimes equating those things to making ‘rustic’ furniture or having a wide range of quality.,” Gnehm said  “I think Urban Hardwoods has always led the pack when it comes to design and marketing salvaged wood furniture, and today most of our customers know that ‘salvaged wood’ – especially from Urban Hardwoods – represents refinement, craftsmanship, and natural beauty. Additionally, the term ‘salvaged wood’ has expanded to mean more than just ‘live-edge’ tables: ‘salvaged wood’ means sustainably sourced wood, which customers seek-out and see great value in.”

In addition to the new Bellevue showroom, customers can visit Urban Hardwoods’ workshop, which has an adjacent mill yard.

“Several years ago, we started to recognize the trend of how many of our customers would first visit our showroom, but eventually ended up at our workshop to hand-select the perfect slab for them,” Gnehm said. “Our process is simply more meaningful to our clients when they have a hand in personally selecting their wood. Seeing all the things we do behind the scenes to make it happen is very interesting to the public.

“When we opened up the Bellevue showroom, one of our goals was not to just have ‘another showroom,’ but rather have this showroom be an extension of our workshop in downtown Seattle. At our Bellevue showroom, customers can see both finished furniture pieces ready for delivery next day or they can see raw boards that our staff can discuss about the many ways to approach designing their custom order.”  

Learn more at

Cornell to research using EAB-ravaged trees for engineered wood products

Cornell University of Ithaca, NY, in coordination with timber manufacturer Unalam of Unadilla, NY, will research and develop methods to reuse wood infested by the emerald ash borer.

According to a press release about the program, researchers will use robotic fabrication technology to transform irregularly shaped ash lumber into engineered wood products. The project’s title is “Upcycling Ash Trees for Sustainable Wood Construction.”

“The invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) epidemic has killed tens of millions of ash trees in North America, drastically transforming entire forest ecosystems and creating a massive climate risk.” state the research team at Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. “Infested and dying ash trees also provide an enormous and untapped resource for sustainable wood construction. Unfortunately, they are often comprised of mature growth trees which cannot be processed by standard lumber mills. In collaboration with glued laminated timber manufacturer Unalam, this project will develop an innovative method to reuse EAB-infested timber. By introducing high precision 3D scanning and robotic fabrication technology, researchers will create a new building process to transform irregularly shaped “ash waste wood” into a useful high-tech engineered wood products.”


Urban Wood Network Secures Forest Service Grant

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) was awarded a grant from the USDA Forest Service to further its mission to advance the urban wood movement throughout the United States.

UWN’s proposal, The Urban Wood Network – Driving Urban Wood Utilization from Coast to Coast, was one of six to be awarded from a pool of $900,000 in the 2020 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share Grant Program. These funds will be matched with an additional $995,144 based on the individual grant recipient’s proposals bringing total funding to nearly $1.9 million. 

According to UWN, “The three-year project will expand the U.S. urban forest economy by bringing industry stakeholders together to inform, collaborate, and connect to build community, business and consumer confidence in the urban wood industry, which will provide revenues and cost-savings to municipal urban forestry programs.”

The UWN’s membership includes sawyers, woodworkers, municipalities, arborists and other stakeholders stretching from coast to coast and in Canada. UWN said its members “are committed to the ideals that urban trees benefit their communities most when they are growing strong and that when they are removed due to death, disease, pests, or circumstance, their wood should be utilized to its highest use to maximize economic, environment and societal benefits.”

As a national trade organization, UWN works with its members and partners to:

  • Develop and improve markets for urban wood;
  • Assist in reducing cost burdens for municipalities;
  • Increase opportunities for wood recycling;
  • Help develop programs that will stimulate economies, create jobs, and educate on sustainability and carbon sequestration.

The Forest Service’s community forestry grants support the health and vitality of urban forests. Well managed forests are better prepared to withstand the threats of invasive pests, and protect lives, infrastructure, homes, habitats, water quality, economies, and social health and well-being.

In addition to UWN, other grant winners include:

  • Wildlife Habitat Council — Crossing the Fence-Line: Connecting Corporate America to America’s Communities through Public-private Forestry Programs;
  • University of Maryland — Translating Urban and Community Forestry Human Health Evidence to Integrated Urban Planning and Policy;
  • North Carolina State University — Engaging Diverse Communities in Urban Greening Efforts: Lessons Learned and Pathways to Success;
  •  University of Tennessee — Extending the Reach of Rapid Diagnostics with Detection Tools for Oak Wilt and Laurel Wilt Diseases in Urban Forests; and
  • The Giving Grove Inc. — Little Orchards, Big Impact: Growing a Collaborative National Urban Orchard Network to Improve Environmental Resiliency, Build Capacity and Increase Food, Security in High Potential Communities.

Learn more about the USDA’s 2020 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share Grant Program.

For more information about the  Urban Wood Network, visit


Canadian teen’s woodworking business built on backyard trees

James Russell of Guelph, ON, has learned the value of repurposing urban trees at the youthful age of 17.

The teenage entrepreneur is the owner of Sawdust and Steel Woodworking, a business he created to craft furniture, charcuterie boards and other wood products out ash, maple and other woods salvaged from local backyard trees. Russell crafted the accompanying photo of a table and wall art featuring blue epoxy from urban black walnut.

Russell was recently profiled by Guelph Today, which noted that his passion for woodworking stems from when he made his mother a coffee table a couple of years ago.

As his business has grown, Russell has invested in equipment upgrades.

See more of Russell’s handiwork on Instagram.

Read the Guelph Today article.

Urban Wood Workbook Tells How to Create Value from Waste

The Baltimore Wood Project and USDA Forest Service have collaborated on the newly released Urban Wood Workbook. The authors state that the workbook “is designed to be a practical reference for practitioners,” including municipal managers, tree care professionals, sawyers, woodworkers and other urban wood stakeholders.  

“Specific and realistic examples of how different types of stakeholders can approach planning and expect to benefit from using urban wood are included in the section entitled ‘Applying the Urban Wood Flows Model.’ The model examines the urban wood supply chain including identifying sources of salvageable urban wood materials through using them to produce value-added wood products. 

The workbook’s framework and strategies are largely based on the experiences of the Baltimore Urban Wood Project, which was initiated in 2012 to develop and support a diversified regional wood economy that promotes sustainability and creates jobs, especially for people with barriers to employment. The core strategy of the Baltimore Project is diverting wood that is often wasted and capturing its value. This includes wood from the deconstruction of abandoned rowhomes and “fresh cut” wood from urban tree operations.

“The value of most urban wood is based on characteristics not found in rural forests — species diversity, large diameter, or character (flaws),” notes the forward of the workbook. “Wood harvested in Baltimore is primarily valued for its story and aesthetic and is being used to create excellent furnishings and architectural enhancements. In this way, the wood captured in these efforts compliments the wood being produced in rural settings. In addition, wood harvested in Baltimore is sometimes shipped to rural communities in other states for secondary processing, generating economic value across state lines. A partnership with Room & Board, a sustainable furniture company, has yielded the Urban Wood Project furniture line. As of summer 2018, Room & Board has reused over 16,000 board feet from Baltimore rowhomes. Many of the products are manufactured in Vermont, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.”

The Urban Wood Workbook was written by Mike Galvin, director of the consulting group at SavATree; J. Morgan Grove, research scientist and team leader for the Baltimore Field Station and Baltimore Ecosystem Study, USDA Forest Service; Sarah Hines, Urban Field Station network coordinator, USDA forest service; and Lauren Marshall, national program manager for Urban & Community Forestry, USDA Forest Service.

Download the Urban Wood Workbook.

Sculptures feature urban spalted maple

Nicholas Hamilton Holmes of Hamilton, ON, created a collection of sculptures using spalted maple and oxidized white oak reclaimed respectively from urban wood and barn wood beams.

The salvaged wood featured in the “This and That” collection includes knots and cracks, veins of fungus and irregular textures. 

Holmes, a designer and maker of custom wood furniture, has put a greater focus on sculpture making characterized by bent, shaped and moulded wood. In the case of “This and That,” Holmes creates a visual metaphor by pairing simple geometric forms that “interact and play” with each other.

The collection debuted at Art Élysées in Paris, France in October 2019.

Also, check out Holmes’ Black Arts collection.