Search Results for "illinoisurbanwood"

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.

Update on the Urban Wood Network-IL Chapter

We held our first in-person meeting of the new UWN-IL chapter on March 9 at the showroom of Icon Modern in Chicago. Twenty people attended including 10 via Zoom.

Thank you Rocky Levy, owner of Icon Modern and long-time urban wood advocate, for hosting us.

The meeting featured presentations by three current UWN-IL members on why they joined the chapter including Max Brown, village forester of Glen Ellyn; Rocky Levy of Icon Modern; and Erika Horigan of Horigan Urban Forest Products. We also had great discussions on what is needed next for UWN-IL including connecting with the Illinois DNR, municipal park districts, lumber suppliers and other end users. There was also interest in seeking grant funding for UWN-IL to help propel urban wood into the marketplace and to highlight the benefits of using urban lumber.

Full minutes of the March 9 meeting will be available at our next hybrid chapter meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. May 19.

The in-person meeting will be held at Horigan Urban Forest Products, 2302 Meadow Lane, North Chicago IL 60064. For those unable to attend in-person, the meeting will also be held on Zoom.

As of now, chapter meetings are scheduled to take place on the third Thursday of odd-numbered months.

To get on our mailing list to receive UWN-IL news and event updates, including a Zoom link for the May 19 meeting, email Erika Horigan at

All urban wood stakeholders including tree care specialists, sawyers, woodworkers, architects, municipal managers, urban foresters and others are encouraged to attend our chapter meetings. Membership benefits include branding opportunities, sharing best practices with other members, and participating in educational webinars and workshops.

FYI: The Urban Wood Network will soon launch a revamped website. It will include an area devoted to UWN-IL. Stay tuned.

Goodbye … for Now

This is the 81st and final edition of the Urban Wood Update, at least under my watch … for now.

Up until a few weeks ago, I assumed I would be producing an 82nd issue and beyond. Afterall, creating the content and deploying the Update has been ingrained in my monthly routine since I sent out the first edition in July 2015.

I was a paid consultant for the Illinois Wood Utilization Team (WUT) when I launched the newsletter. Illinois, along with Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin shared grant monies from the U.S. Forest Service to create marketing strategies for promoting value-added uses of urban wood. The ultimate goal was to grow demand for this vastly under-utilized resource.

The four-state grant led to the creation of the Urban Wood Network (UWN). The UWN is now in the process of organizing state chapters, Illinois being among the newest.

Since January 2019 I have volunteered my time and “dime” to maintain the website and create content for the Update. But last month the proverbial dam burst for my business, Richson Media. Not one, not two, but all three proposals I had in the offering were accepted. I immediately realized that I had to make serious adjustments on how I allocate my limited time. One of the most difficult adjustments to my schedule is taking a break from the illinoisurbanwood website and the newsletter. I have also resigned from the steering committee of the new Urban Wood Network-Illinois Chapter.

While I am taking myself out of the game — at least for now — I will continue to root for the continued success and advancement of the urban wood movement from the sidelines. And rest assured, I will remain a staunch advocate in my future discussions with my family, friends and woodworking industry colleagues.

If you are an urban wood stakeholder based in Illinois, I encourage you to contact Erika Horigan. She is heading up the steering committee which is in the process of holding informational meetings to drum up membership and develop programs that will benefit its members. Erika can be reached at

In addition, you can learn more at

Good luck to all!

Rich Christianson
Editor & Publisher
Urban Wood Update

Fast Company Honors Taylor Guitar for Urban Wood Use

Taylor Guitars’ Builder’s Edition 324ce made with the new Urban Ash™

Fast Company magazine recently named Taylor Guitars the 9th Most Innovative Manufacturing company in the world largely based on the guitar maker’s initiatives to incorporate sustainable materials into its products. That includes using locally salvaged urban ash.

Fast Company noted Taylor Guitars’ Urban Ash Initiative exemplifies “how sustainable manufacturing processes can take inspiration from materials that are often cast aside.”

Since entering into a partnership with West Coast Arborists (WCA) of Anaheim, Calif., two years ago, Taylor Guitars has sold more than 8,000 guitars that incorporate wood from Shamel ash trees. WCA milled the trees that were removed at the end of their service due to disease, public safety or other circumstance. 

Taylor Guitars views Shamel ash as a more sustainable alternative to Honduras mahogany for the tonewood of its guitars. The company initially used the locally-sourced Shamel for its Builders Edition 324ce guitar. It is more recently being used for the backs and sides of its new GT Urban Ash guitars. 

Taylor’s Urban Wood Initiative is one of three environmental programs that Fast Company highlighted in its writeup about the guitar manufacturer.

Taylor developed The Ebony Project to make the supply chain for West African ebony more sustainable and less wasteful while also helping to replant and restore ebony forests for future generations. In 2020 Taylor planted 15,000 ebony trees and plans to plant an additional 25,000 ebony trees and 30,000 fruit trees by 2025. Ebony is a prized fretboard wood.

From left to right: John Mahoney of West Coast Arborists (WCA), Bob Taylor and Scott Paul of Taylor Guitars at the WCA lumber yard

Taylor partnered with wood supplier Pacific Rim Tonewoods on a new venture in the process of changing its name from Paniolo Tonewoods to Siglo Tonewoods. The project involves restoring and regenerating native Hawaiian koa forests, which have shrunk dramatically in recent centuries as forestland was cleared for cattle grazing, with natural regeneration threatened by invasive species and feral cattle. In 2021 more than 3,000 koa and more than 800 mixed native tree species were planted on 10 acres of a 564-acre property. Plans call for planting 150,000 trees on the property managed by Paniolo over the next decade.

A blog posted on Taylor Guitars’ website states, “We’re honored to be included at #9 of (Fast Company’s) Top 10 most innovative companies in manufacturing thanks to our global environmental and sustainability initiatives. These projects have become an integral part of Taylor as a business and as a manufacturer, and we’re proud to have them recognized for their impacts on the business world.”

Icon Modern to Host UWN-IL Chapter Info Meeting on March 9

What are the goals of the new Illinois Chapter of Urban Wood Network (UWN-IL)?

Who is eligible to join?

What are the benefits of membership?

Find out the answers to these and other questions, plus get yours answered by attending the first live meeting of UWN-IL scheduled for 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the showroom of Icon Modern in Chicago. The meeting will also be available via Zoom for those unable to attend the in-person meeting.

The meeting will be highlighted by a panel of three urban wood stakeholders, who will share their reasons for joining UWN-IL. In addition, Kari Devine, executive director of the Urban Wood Network, will particpate via Zoom to provide updated information about UWN including plans for a new website that will spotlight individual state chapters and their members, as well as other membership benefits.

Icon Modern CHciago Showroom

Icon Modern will host the March 9 UWN-IL meeting at its showroom located at 346 N. Justine St., Chicago.

UWN-IL was launched last month to work with the Urban Wood Network and other state chapters on promoting the social, environmental and economic value of urban wood and to maximize the value of trees removed due to pests, disease or other circumstances.

The March 9 meeting is being organized by the UWN-IL steering committee. Its members include:

  • Max Brown, Village Forester of Glen Ellyn;
  • Rich Christianson, Editor & Publisher, Urban Wood Update;
  • Cherie Fisher, Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service;
  • Erika Horigan, co-owner of Horigan Urban Forest Products, chairperson;
  • Rocky Levy, co-owner Icon Modern;
  • Jeff Perkis, Project Architect at Dewberry;
  • Jeff Prokash, Instructor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and
  • Steve Skorup, Owner, SAWINC.

All urban wood stakeholders including tree care specialists, sawyers, woodworkers, architects, municipal managers, urban foresters and others are encouraged to attend the meeting. Membership benefits include branding opportunities, sharing best practices with other members, and participating in educational webinars and workshops.

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Urban Wood Network and sign up to become a member at

March 9 Meeting Options
The in-person meeting will be held at Icon Modern, 346 N. Justine St., Chicago; phone 312-469-0788.

Use this link to join the meeting via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 816 2010 2076
Passcode: 354084

For additional information, contact Erika Horigan, UWN-IL Steering Committee chairperson,

We look forward to your participation and hope you will join the UWN-IL urban wood movement!

Seizing the Value of Fallen Trees

How circular economics for urban wood waste can grow in New York City; Pittsburgh and Eugene, OR.

By Marisa Repka, Co-Founder and CFO of Cambium Carbon
& James Anderson, Associate II, Natural Infrastructure, World Resources Institute

A Brooklyn tree felled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Imagine two trucks passing on a city street. One is a delivery truck carrying new wood flooring and furniture to stores and homes in the city. The other is carrying a fallen city tree damaged by a recent storm, taking it out of town to be mulched, burned or sent to a landfill.

This scenario plays out every day in urban communities around the world and represents a huge, missed opportunity for cities, consumers and the climate. Trees offer various benefits for cities, yet 36 million trees come down in cities across the United States each year due to disease, development or old age. Much of this wood ends up burned, chipped into mulch or tossed into landfills, despite its potential to become a valuable product.

The “reforestation hubs” model allows cities to create new value from fallen urban trees. Rather than

continuing business-as-usual urban wood waste, cities can help recover and “upcycle” that waste into higher-value products such furniture, flooring and construction material. The revenue that is generated from the sale of those items and the reduced cost of wood waste disposal can then funnel back into urban forestry projects, such as planting new trees or maintaining existing trees.

New case studies by Cambium Carbon and the Arbor Day Foundation show that there is a substantial urban wood re-use opportunity in three major U.S. cities that are part of the Cities4Forests network. If cities seize the opportunity to build a wood reuse market, they can save money, provide new resources for urban forest restoration and see significant climate benefits.

Salvaging Wood Waste from Pittsburgh
Nested along steep hillsides prone to erosion, Pittsburgh, PA, is on a mission to restore its degraded landscapes. The city hopes to plant 100,000 trees by 2030 and combat a 6.2 percent tree canopy decline from 2010 to 2015.

Pittsburgh’s tree loss has affected the city in various ways. In 2020 alone, Pittsburgh removed more than 1,300 trees from public land at a cost of roughly $27 per ton for contracted disposal. Trees are typically removed in two- to three-foot sections, with smaller-diameter limbs and brush ground up for mulch, compost or boiler fuel. This process releases the carbon stored in trees back into the atmosphere. And in addition to the cost of disposal, the city loses an estimated $250,000 annually from the unrealized economic value of the material.

Wood waste use presents an opportunity for the city to cut costs, meet its urban forestry goal and increase material efficiency. The study identifies opportunities for the city to use its wood waste stream to make products necessary for new planting, such as tree stakes or mulch. While the city’s current contract for wood waste management entitles it to a portion of finished mulch or compost, very little of that material is claimed in practice. This is due to gaps in communication between disposal and new procurement, as well as existing mulch not being ground to the specifications required for reuse. Returning the city’s own wood waste to the landscape can not only advance zero waste initiatives, but help the city avoid new procurement costs. This would free up the critical urban forestry budget needed to care for and restore the city’s tree canopy.

Catalyzing a Wood Waste Economy in Eugene
Eugene, OR’s rich legacy as a regional center for forest product manufacturing provides a unique opportunity for the city to create a commercial market for salvaged wood and get fallen logs into the hands of local processors. The city removed roughly 1,000 trees in 2020, which contained as much as 50,000 board feet of merchantable wood. That’s enough material to stretch a whole mile long and almost 10 feet across with one-inch slabs of wood. At the same time, the team behind the study identified 76 wood millers, secondary wood product manufacturers and potential buyers in the area who could make a market from this wood.

Cities need fixed infrastructure to process and up-cycle urban wood. Therefore, the study recommends using a shared sorting yard to aggregate logs from sources such as city crews, tree care companies and the local electric utility. In turn, a public-private partnership — such as a model pioneered in Eau Claire, WI, by the nonprofit Wisconsin Urban Wood — could enable local sawyers and millers to use and process the material through their existing facilities. Eugene’s legacy as a logging town also offers the private sector capacity and critical expertise needed to mill, dry and sell recycled wood as products such as tables, furniture or flooring. This makes a compelling case for the city to collaborate with local artisans and manufacturers, rather than oversee its own processing infrastructure.

Centralizing New York City’s Wood Waste Processing
Between 2015 and 2020, New York City removed an average of over 12,000 street and park trees each year. Most tree material was chipped on site, allowing for easier transportation and disposal outside of the congested urban environment. The city also has a decentralized urban forestry system in which each of the five boroughs operates its own forestry team. This largely siloed approach makes it even more complicated to manage a massive wood waste stream.

Waste management costs also pose a major challenge. With real estate and transit at a premium, the cost to have wood waste hauled and disposed — known as a “tipping fee” — can be up to $70 a ton. These costs can be significantly increased after severe storm events: 2020’s Hurricane Isaias downed nearly 3,400 trees in New York City parks, leading to a bill of more than $1.5 million for the city’s wood waste management that year.

The case study found that establishing a centralized sorting and processing operation to recycle fallen wood from Brooklyn and Queens alone could provide a net present value of $7 million over 10 years in addition to savings from avoided disposal fees. A reuse program within the city could also avoid significant transportation and disposal emissions, as the city would no longer have to truck waste outside of the city and state. Additionally, local processing would allow for carbon storage in durable wood products, much of which would otherwise be released during burning, mulching and decomposition. In addition to reduced transportation emissions, the study estimates that over 10,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions can be reduced through a pilot wood reuse program through carbon storage alone.

Scaling the Urban Wood Opportunity
The urban wood opportunity is not limited to these three cities. While specific wood waste management strategies will vary according to local context, these new assessments can help identify best practices for peer cities looking to make the most of their fallen trees.

For example, cities can create unified asset management systems for tree data. All three cities had an issue with fragmented information management, as various agencies (such as planning and zoning, public works, and branches of parks and recreation) kept separate tree records. As a result, tree removals were not measured or managed in a cohesive fashion. Other cities may be able to establish centralized log collection infrastructure, as pioneered by Baltimore. Other cities, including members of Cities4Forests, may wish to revise policies, such as setting new contractor requirements for disposal or establishing a local preference for city procurement.

Regardless of next steps, one thing is clear: Cities have a lot to gain from seizing the value of their fallen trees. While these case studies provide three models for wood reuse, it’s up to government leaders across the nation to develop full life cycle management strategies for city trees and discover how reforestation hubs can benefit their communities.

This story first appeared on WRI.

Why I Joined UWN-IL, By Max Brown, Glen Ellyn Village Forester

By Maxwell Brown
Village of Glen Ellyn
Village Forester

Working in Glen Ellyn’s Public Works Department and managing our village’s urban forest inevitably results in removing large trees for a variety of reasons. 

Currently, the disposal of logs from our municipal tree removals is performed by a paid contractor. The contractor usually hauls away the logs to process into woodchips for mulch or firewood. Over time, I began to think, there has to be a better way as I came to realize that this wood should be viewed as an asset rather than as waste. There has to be a better, more environmenally responsible use of these logs that would benefit our community and make sense financially.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one with those thoughts. I learned about the Urban Wood Network and how it is comprised of a group of like-minded representatives of municipalities, tree care businesses, sawmills, suppliers, manufacturers, and design professionals working to promote urban wood utilization and assist the development of local networks to get urban wood into the hands of people who will utilize it in more value-added ways other than just firewood or mulch.

I found that joining the Illinois Chapter of the Urban Wood Network is a great way to become involved at the ground level and help develop a program in Illinois that falls in line with the national organization’s mission to repurpose felled urban trees to their highest possible value. Doing so could potentially benefit hundreds and hundreds of people here in Illinois. 

Without a doubt, our urban forest is most beneficial when trees are alive and thriving. When a tree does need to be removed, though, I would love to provide these logs to someone who recognizes its value as urban wood so that can be repurposed as furniture, flooring and other wood products. 

The UWN-IL Chapter is working to make this happen. I encourage all Illinois urban wood stakeholders to learn more about the benefits of joining the Urban Wood Network and joining our cause. 

Room & Board launches table line made with reclaimed ash nationwide

Room & Board Orlin Dining Table

Room & Board is selling its Orlin table, made with salvaged ash wood, online and at its 20 retail stores nationwide.

Room & Board has teamed up with Wood From the Hood (WFTH) and Siewert Cabinet & Fixture Manufacturing in introducing its Orlin table line. The tables are produced using lumber reclaimed from Minneapolis-area ash trees. All three companies are based in Minneapolis.

Room & Board is selling the contemporary Orlin dining and coffee tables nationally online and through its 20 retail stores. According to a blog posted on Room & Board’s website, the tables’ designs “pay homage to Minnesota’s Scandinavian heritage.” The tables retail for $999 and up.

Lumber for the tables is milled by WFTH from ash tree that have been felled mainly due to emerald ash borer infestation. The tables are being manufactured by Siewert Cabinets, a sister company of WFTH. 

“By salvaging this environmentally friendly wood, they’re creating a material that becomes sustainable furniture. Wood From The Hood’s sustainable values and local Minnesota home makes them an ideal partner.”

Room & Board Orlin Coffee Table

The Orlin collection is the latest extension of Room & Board’s Urban Wood Project which started with reclaiming lumber from deconstructed row houses in Baltimore.

Room & Board, a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, has staked its reputation on designing and selling products made with sustainable materials. In addition to urban and reclaimed wood, Room & Board uses recycled plastic, metal and fabrics in its home furniture products. The company says that 90 percent of its products are made in the United States and sources its products from a network of manufacturers located throughout the continent.

IL Chapter of Urban Wood Network Officially Launches

It’s official. Urban Wood Network – Illinois Chapter (UWN-IL) has formally been established as has a steering committee to set goals, beginning with recruiting new members.

Erika Horigan, member of UWN-IL, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding completing the application process joining Wisconsin, Michigan and other states that have become state-chartered members of UWN. 

UWN-IL will work with the Urban Wood Network on primary goals, including promoting the social, environmental and economic value of urban wood and to maximize the value of trees removed due to pests, disease or other circumstances

Members of the UWN-IL steering committee include:

  • Max Brown, Village Forester of Glen Ellyn;
  • Rich Christianson, Editor & Publisher, Urban Wood Update;
  • Cherie Fisher, Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service;
  • Erika Horigan, co-owner of Horigan Urban Forest Products, chairperson;
  • Rocky Levy, co-owner Icon Modern;
  • Jeff Perkis, Project Architect at Dewberry;
  • Jeff Prokash, Instructor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and
  • Steve Skorup, Owner, SAWINC.

Plans are in the works for a new membership information meeting to be held March 9 at Icon Modern’s facility in Chicago and via Zoom. Further details, including registration, will be announced soon.

All urban wood stakeholders are welcome to join UWN-IL including tree care specialists, sawyers, woodworkers, architects, municipal managers, urban foresters and more. Membership benefits include branding opportunities, sharing best practices with other members, and participating in educational webinars and workshops.

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Urban Wood Network and sign up to become a member at

For additional information about becoming a member of UWN-IL, contact Erika Horigan.

Why I Joined the UWN-IL, By Steve Skorup, SAWINC

The author poses with the stump of an elm tree at the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park, IL, that was on its death knell when it was removed and converted into furniture.

By Steve Skorup

I am the owner of SAWINC located in Sandwich, IL, and a retired technology education teacher. I taught drafting, CAD, woodworking, construction, and engineering for 33 years.

I began my journey into woodworking when I was about 12 years old working on projects in my parent’s garage. I took woodworking and cabinetmaking courses at Lockport Township HS and during high school I decided I wanted to be a teacher and coach.

After receiving my tech-ed degree from Illinois State University, I began my teaching career. The great thing I discovered about teaching was that I could pursue and share my passion for woodworking in the classroom and do woodworking and construction during summer breaks.

Samples of urban wood Skorup has helped salvage through his business SAWINC.

Through my friendship with a neighbor who was an arborist at the Morton Arboretum I was exposed to the world of urban logging and resource usage. I had already been making furniture for over 35 years, but only using dimension lumber and materials. After taking a trip to Seattle and seeing a business dedicated to live-edge furniture, I was inspired to combine my love of nature, woodworking, and newly gained knowledge of urban logging into a new venture using urban wood.

Working with various municipalities, tree services, forest preserves, private individuals, and sawyers I have been able to salvage many logs and turn them into what I call Legacy Lumber and Heritage furniture. I have salvaged logs from private yards, the Morton Arboretum, forest preserves, the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio property, and other locations. Much of this urban wood would otherwise have been reduced to chips or firewood.

Through these ventures I have met like-minded people who are interested in urban wood and are seeking to form the Illinois Chapter of the Urban Wood Network. If you are interested in urban wood and seeing this resource used to its highest purpose, then I encourage you to become involved in the Illinois Chapter and share your expertise and passion.

Skorup made this table from wood salvaged from the Frank Lloyd Wright Home's elm.