Category: News

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 urbanhardwoods.com.



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 urbanwoodnetwork.org.

 



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.



Urban Wood Network’s Future Visioning Webinars Available on Demand

All five parts of the Urban Wood Network’s (UWN) 2020 “Future Visioning” webinar series presented to date are available for on-demand viewing.

The webinars were held on a monthly basis from March through July, 2020. They include an overview of the UWN’s most recent accomplishments and plans, as well as a discussion of urban wood lumber standards, business strategies and more.

Each of the webinars is geared toward supporting the needs of the entire urban wood chain including municipal managers, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers and advocates.

Webinar #1: The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning
The Urban Wood Network presents its vision to bring together urban wood industry members to inform, collaborate and connect to build community, business, and consumer confidence in the industry. 

Webinar #2: Urban Lumber Standards
Learn about new North American standards and chain-of-custody certification of urban wood and how they will build confidence in architects and designers to spec locally grown urban wood products.  

Webinar #3: Urban Lumber Business
Discussion of how to start or grow a successful urban lumber business including marketing strategies and utilization of the new industry standard and chain of custody certification.

Webinar #4: What to Do with the Rest of the Tree(s)
This webinar gives a broad spectrum of examples of products that have been produced from “non-log” trees and portions of trees throughout the country.  

Webinar #5: Forming a State Organization: Nebraska Urban Wood
Learn how urban wood stakeholders in Nebraska have come together to create Nebraska Urban Wood. Included is an overview of Nebraska’s existing urban wood using industry, municipalities and tree service involvement, potential funding sources, organizational structures, and recent organizational efforts.

Learn more about the Urban Wood Network, other archived webinars and the benefits of becoming a member.

 



Chicago Neighborhood Makes a Stand to Save Ash Trees

Residents of Ravenswood Manor, the northside Chicago home of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and ex-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are putting up a line of defense of the community’s ash trees against the deadly emerald ash borer.

The Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association (RMIA) is leading the charge to collect enough money to inoculate approximately 90 ash trees located on parkways with a treatment to prevent EAB infestation. The RMIA is taking it upon itself to save the trees because the city discontinued treating ash trees in 2018.

According to the RMIA’s Save Our Ashes! web page dedicated to the ash tree cause, “Some residents may also have ash trees on their private property. Most of our parkway ash trees are still strong and healthy but are in desperate need of protection. We can obtain volume discount pricing of 30-40% on inoculations for the whole neighborhood. An average sized tree will be costs approximately $150 to protect for three years.”

WTTW interviewed Lorin Liberson, an RMIA resident actively involved in the save the ash trees crusade.

“We have probably the largest ash tree in the neighborhood, it’s a monster,”  Liberson told WTTW.  “This tree is the house.” She added that RMIA residents had been “very generous” in their financial support.

 

 



Video: Overview of I-Tree Landscape


If you can spare two minutes and 26 seconds, then this video is worth a gander. It provides not only reinforcement of why urban forests are important to our health but also a summary of the U.S. Forest Service’s i-Tree software.

i-Tree is a software suite that provides urban and rural forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools. The i-Tree tools can help strengthen forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying forest structure and the environmental benefits that trees provide.

Since the initial release of the i-Tree Tools in August 2006, thousands of communities, non-profit organizations, consultants, volunteers and students around the world have used i-Tree to report on individual trees, parcels, neighborhoods, cities, and even entire states. By understanding the local, tangible ecosystem services that trees provide, i-Tree users can link forest management activities with environmental quality and community livability. Whether your interest is a single tree or an entire forest, i-Tree provides baseline data that you can use to demonstrate value and set priorities for more effective decision-making.

Visit the I-Tree Landscape website.



Urban Forest Craft Brewing Opens Amid Pandemic

Rockford, IL’s newest craft brewery pays homage to the urban forest.

Urban Forest Craft Brewing officially opened May 23. The grand opening was limited to curbside service due to Illinois’ shutdown of bars and restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The interior of the brewery’s taproom, including the bar, tables and floor, are made of salvaged hardwoods.

Urban Forest Craft Brewing

Alex Cando, who co-owns the brewery along with Heath Meyers, told the Rockford Register Star, “It was the name that came first. An urban forest is like, you know, a park in the middle of a sprawling city. We hope that our beer can be kind of that oasis. We really focus on the quality of our beers and want that to shine out in an increasingly more competitive craft beer market. Hopefully, our beer will stand out.”



Taylor Guitars Uses Urban Ash for Tonewood

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 Guitars of El Cajon, CA, has launched its Urban Wood initiative by incorporating ash milled from community trees as the backs and sides of its new Builders Edition 324ce guitar.

In a video interview with Sweetwater Sound, Mike Ausman, key accounts manager of Taylor Guitars, said the company has found that shamel ash is a more sustainable alternative to Honduras mahogany for the tonewood of guitars, “and it’s growing in our backyard.” 

Shamel ash, also known as evergreen ash, is a fast-growing, wide canopy tree common in Southern California that can reach up to 40 feet high in 20 years. Taylor Guitar has trademarked the shamel wood it uses in its products as “Urban Ash.”

“This ash species happens to be a great mix of the right weight, density, dimensional stability and drying attributes, and responds well to sawing, sanding and finishing,” said Andy Powers, master guitar designer for Taylor. “In almost every physical way I can measure it, it’s reminiscent of really good Honduran mahogany.”

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

Taylor Guitars is sourcing its urban ash from West Coast Arborists (WCA) of Anaheim, CA. WCA, a professional tree maintenance and management company that services more than 300 municipalities and public agencies throughout California and Arizona. WCA has developed software that incorporates GPS tracking in creating a database that inventories more than 10 million tree sites.

“Urban Ash on a 324ce Builders edition is just the surface of what this wood is going to be available for,” Ausman said. “I think it’s really great that we have this sustainable source of timber that is available to us and I really think that’s going to resonate with our customers, guitar lovers and collectors because they want to be part of that story” Ausman said. “It’s going to get players and customers invested in how we go forward to make sure guitars of this caliber are going to be available to generations to come. We would rather make guitars out of multiple pieces of true sonic resonating material than exploring artificial material.”

Read expanded story and view video on WoodworkingNetwork.com.