Tag: Rebuilding Exchange

Chicago woodworker inspired by urban wood

By Mike Lee

This piece was very much an inspirational construct.  The client had given me total artistic freedom; her only request was that I make her a small mid-century modern writing desk.
Initially, my intention was to source wood from a traditional hardwood lumberyard, but first I looked in my shop to see what I had in stock. There, I discovered that I had been sitting on some very old reclaimed quarter sawn wood boards purchased from the Rebuilding Exchange. The 5/4 thick trim was recovered from an old Chicago apartment.  It had a beautiful quarter sawn pattern – perfect for the desktop. 
It was then that I decided to try and keep the piece as locally sourced as I could. In search of more locally reclaimed wood, I came across an amazing hardwood company, Horigan Urban Wood in Skokie. To my surprise, they had a fantastic selection of locally sourced urban hardwoods. There I found some beautiful dry kiln white oak with unique colorization due to the kiln process. This worked perfectly with my design, which was to mix and match woods to give the desk a subtle two-toned look.
Finally, I chose walnut for the apron, drawer, and desktop trim.  
Building this desk really opened my eyes to the benefits of reclaimed and locally sourced urban woods. There are many species of wood in the Chicagoland area that go to waste and need to be salvaged, and there seems to be an enormous market for these locally sourced pieces.
About the Author
Mike Lee is owner of Lee Custom Wood Designs based in Chicago. Lee is a self-taught woodworker who formerly worked in AdTech & Media before doing some “heavy soul searching” led him to start his own woodworking and furniture design business. Learn more at leecustomwooddesign.com.

SEP Update: City Squanders Ash Tree Removals

Hamilton-Holmes-Shell-TableAs if it’s not difficult enough to make a successful go of local urban wood movements, we would like to think that municipalities would be delighted to have a woodworker interested in repurposing some of its ash tree removals.

Such was not the case in Hamilton, ON, where custom woodworker Nicholas Hamilton Holmes was denied access of trees taken down due to emerald ash borer infestation. Instead of being made into custom furniture and wood products, the trees were chipped and land filled.

Sad but true.

You can read about Holmes’ battle with the city in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Speaking of Nicks, learn how to enter the Rebuilding Exchange’s contest to win tickets to a stand-up comedy performance by Nick Offerman at the Chicago Theater. Offerman, an accomplished woodworker in his own right, will hold court on Dec. 1.

Also in this issue, read about the progress the Southeast Urban Wood Exchange has made in launching a website created to connect land owners, arborists, tree removal professionals, sawyers and woodworkers.

If you’ve got the time and the mind, make a date listen in on the Fall Urban Wood Utilization Webcast hosted by the Wood Education and Resource Center. Among the agenda items, Don Peterson will give an update on the Full Circle project that involves wood utilization teams in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. The full agenda and a link to the webcast is included in this month’s newsletter.

Have you saved an urban tree from the landfill today? Tell us about it at info@illinoisurbanwood.org.

Until next month, enjoy!

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team



Enter Rebuilding Exchange’s Contest to Win Nick Offerman Tix

Tickets to see Nick Offerman Dec. 1 at the Chicago Theater Offerman-Woodshopawait the winners of a contest sponsored by the Rebuilding Exchange.

Offerman, best known for his portrayal of Ron Swanson in the popular sit-com Parks & Recreation, is coming to Chicago as part of his Full Bush stand-up comedy tour. HIs passion for the stage and screen is reviled by his love of woodworking. A native of southern Illinois, he operates Offerman Woodshop in Los Angeles. His newest book, “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop,” includes several solid references to using local urban woods. In the documentary film, “Felled.” Offerman weighs in on urban wood utilization.

The Rebuilding Exchange, a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to creating a market for reclaimed building materials. presents three ways to win one of three sets of tickets for Offerman’s Dec. 1 show.

1. For every $10 donated to Rebuilding Exchange, the donor receives a chance to win tickets..

2. Each registrant for a Rebuilding Exchange workshop reserved through Oct. 31 gets you a chance to win.

3. The free way to win is to follow the Rebuilding Exchange on Facebook “then tag the friend you’d like to take with you if you won and like this post.” By following the Rebuilding Exchange on Instagram, entrants can receive a second free entry.

The entry deadline is Oct. 31, 2017. Winners will be announced on Nov. 1.