Tag: urban wood use

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.

Professor named ‘Citizen of the Year’ for urban wood use program


Jerome Johnson UW-Stout

UW-Stout Professor Jerome “Jerry” Johnson sits on one of the benches made by students he has worked with since 2017, as part of a Menomonie Urban Forestry Board project. Photo: UW-Stout


A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout who has helped students with a lab-based, community project was honored as Citizen of the Year by the Menomonie Urban Forestry Board.

Jerome “Jerry” Johnson has worked over the years with the board and its projects. Most recently, he coordinated a UW-Stout effort that repurposes wood from city ash trees, which were removed because of the emerald ash borer. The city received a $9,000 Urban Forestry Grant from the state Department of Natural Resources.

To prevent the wood from going to waste, the Urban Forestry Board partnered with UW-Stout and Johnson. Since 2017, students have made 11 benches from the milled ash. Four more are being built.

The benches, all with different designs, are at:

  • Cedarama, Wakanda and Wilson parks, seven total
  • Disc golf course on Brickyard Road
  • Shirley Doane Senior Center on Sixth Street E.
  • Menomonie Public Library bus stop
  • Additional bench to be placed at disc golf course at Wakanda or Brickyard Road.

“Through this project, we have tried to encourage students to become involved in and give back to in their community. They have been very enthusiastic about designing and building the benches and leaving them with the city,” Johnson said.

Last year, students also sanded and reconditioned the benches that were in use.

The project has gone beyond the hands-on experience that engineering, design and other students have gained in the lab.

“Many have started similar projects in their own hometown. One student is making new, little free library houses for his hometown. While learning about joinery, fastening, processing and finishing is important, the bigger benefit seems to come from the satisfaction and motivation that the students get from their involvement in a citywide, ongoing project,” Johnson said.

In UW-Stout’s wood lab, Johnson oversees senior-level students in the Research and Development course and sophomores in the Design for Industry course. Students have experimented with wood-bending techniques in making the benches and have experimented with Shou sugi ban, a Japanese finishing method of burning and sealing the wood.

urban wood fabrication at UW Stout

Student Max Mueller works on a bench in 2017 in the wood lab at UW-Stout’s Jarvis Hall Tech Wing. Photo: UW-Stout

Johnson, in the engineering and technology department, has taught at UW-Stout since 1985 and is retiring after the spring semester. He has a doctorate in vocational education from the University of Minnesota.

Johnson and Nancy Schofield, a former UW-Stout professor who is a member of the Urban Forestry Board, presented on the project in 2018 at the Urban Forestry Congress in Vancouver, B.C.

Urban Wood Network Announces ‘How To Do Urban Wood’ Webinar Series

Editor’s note: Register for upcoming webinars and view completed webinars on demand.

The Urban Wood Network presents the “How To Do Urban Wood” webinar series. Each month a panel of experts in the urban wood field will share how they have successfully utilized urban wood.

Enthusiasts from every link of the urban wood supply chain will gain a better understanding of how others in every link of the supply chain have successfully been involved in utilizing urban through their own ingenuity and through networking with others in the urban wood community.

The Urban Wood Network invites municipalities, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers and all others interested in helping advance the urban wood movement to participate in one or all of these four 90-minute webinars.

Webinar #1: Urban Tree Removals – Reducing Costs and Promoting Utilization – July 25 1:00 p.m. EST 

Watch on Demand

Urban forests can be sustainably managed from ‘seed to sawdust’ by capturing valuable urban forest products from urban trees that need to be removed. This webinar will show different models of full circle urban forest stewardship that are used to reclaim urban forest products from those felled trees, and what strategies have been employed to support the reclamation of those urban forest products.

Participants will learn:

  • The social and economic benefits of urban wood utilization
  • How to develop and implement a removal plan
  • Tree removal strategies to create urban forest products
  • How to identify markets for urban forest products
  • Who to contact for assistance
  • How to incorporate urban wood into policy
  • How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

    Matthew Staudenmaier – City of Eau Claire, WI;
    Dan Coy – City of Grand Rapids, MI;
    Kevin LaPointe – Kansas City, MO; and
    August Hoppe –Hoppe Tree Service

Webinar #2: Urban Lumber – How to Produce and Market It                                 August 29, 2018 1:00 p.m. EST

Watch on Demand

Lumber made from urban wood has unique and valuable attributes but urban logs can be difficult to process/saw.  Urban wood is a legitimate source of lumber products, this webinar will have examples of: various sawing methods for producing urban lumber, lumber drying strategies, and how to market what you produce.

Participants will learn:

  • Sourcing logs
  • Guidelines for grading urban lumber
  • Air drying and kiln drying techniques
  • Urban wood lumber branding opportunities
  • How to identify markets for urban wood lumber
  • Who to contact for assistance
  • How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

Margaret Studer-Miller – Spalted Banjo Consulting, Petoksy, MI;
Tim O’Neill – The Urban Lumber Company, Kansas City, MO; and
Paul Morrison – The Wood Cycle, Oregon, WI.

Webinar #3: Producing Urban Wood Products – What, How and Where     September 26, 2018 1:00 p.m. EST

Watch on Demand

Consumers from all over the country are joining the urban wood movement and are buying urban wood products in all shapes and sizes, from cutting boards to fine furniture to architectural lumber.  This webinar will discuss examples: of urban wood products, urban lumber sourcing, and examples of local/ regional/national markets.

Participants will learn:

  • The diversity of products made from urban wood
  • How to connect with urban wood sources
  • How to identify markets for urban wood products
  • Urban wood products branding opportunities
  • Who to contact for assistance
  • How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

Rick Siewert – Wood From the Hood, MN;
Paul Hickman – Urban Ashes, MI; and
Rocky Levy – Icon Modern, IL.

Webinar #4: Starting a State Urban Wood Network                                               October 25, 2018 1:00 p.m. EST

Register Now

The Urban Wood Network was founded in 2017 by individuals and entities who have been dedicated to building urban wood businesses since the early 2000s.  We’ve learned that the only way to have a substantial impact, to truly establish full circle urban forestry management, is to work cooperatively from municipality/arborist to value-added manufacturer on a local level. A cohesive supply chain is the only way to get the highest product from these trees. Now, we want to use our collective experiences to assist businesses and others to join this developing industry. This webinar will give an overview of the urban wood movement, provide examples of: different state/regional networks, potential funding options, different organizational structures, and how you can start your own state network.

For more information, contact the Urban Wood Network at 906-875-3720 or info@urbanwoodnetwork.org.

This project is supported by the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grant Program.


What can we do with urban trees after they need to be removed?  Two upcoming workshops help answer that question. The workshops are being held to promote the launch of the Michigan Urban Wood Network, a new group focused on finding the highest and best use for trees removed from Michigan’s community landscapes.

Each event will begin with overview presentations by area experts and will follow with hands-on field demonstrations. Pre-registration is required. Cost is $35 for each workshop and includes full lunch. Please notify the planning team of any special dietary needs after registration.


View Workshop Agenda: Adding Value to Urban Wood: Small Batch Kiln Drying Workshop


WHEN:    Monday, July 9, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
WHO:      Sawmill owners, woodworkers, and other wood industry members
WHERE: Michigan State University Department of Forestry, 480 Wilson Road, Room #338, East Lansing


View Workshop Agenda: Actionable Strategies for Managing Wood from Urban & Community Trees


WHEN:     Tuesday, July 10, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
WHO:       Arborists, community foresters, and other land managers
WHERE:  MSU Department of Forestry, 480 Wilson Road, Room #216. East Lansing

Qualify to win a free workshop registration! Please help us understand your organization’s needs better by completing one of our surveys: Sawmill Survey or Municipal & Tree Care Industry Survey.

Michigan Urban Wood Network Launches Website

The Michigan Urban Wood Network (MUWN) has launched a new website: MiUrbanWoodNetwork.com.

The new website coincides with efforts to create a state-wide network of urban wood stakeholders from arborists and tree care professionals through sawyers and woodworkers. The Michigan Urban Wood Network will build on the foundation of the Urbanwood Project which began in 2005 as part of Recycle Ann Arbor and the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council’s efforts to encourage more recycling of dead urban trees, especially those killed by the emerald ash borer. Among other things, local member sawmills sell urban wood lumber and slabs through the Recycle Ann Arbor ReUse Center and Habitat of Humanity ReStores.

The MUWN is supported by the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grant Program and is organized by the Sustainable Resources Alliance. Additional assistance comes from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. In addition, the MUWN is affiliated with the Urban Wood Network, which also includes urban wood utilization organizations in Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Membership to the Michigan Urban Wood Network is available to businesses, organizations and individuals interested in finding the highest and best use of Michigan’s urban forest resources. A listing on the group’s website is open to all who agree to the basic membership tenets of the Urban Wood Network.

Illinois Architect Takes the LEED in Urban Wood Movement

Laureen-BlissardLaureen Blissard, technical director for the GreenBuilder Coalition and principal of LTLB Envirotecture of Naperville, IL, is a strong advocate of environmental sustainability, including urban wood utilization.

“I have only worked on a few urban wood projects from start to finish, but whenever an opportunity presents itself, I advocate for its use,” Blissard told the Urban Wood Network. “For example, when we are brought in at the beginning of a residential construction project and see the trees that need to be cleared from the property. Many times they are fully grown and great candidates for lumber. I also participate in speaking engagements to promote how architects can incorporate urban wood into a design.”

Blissard is a LEED-certified architect and has been active with the Illinois Wood Utilization Team. She said Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design has been a driver for incorporating urban wood in some building projects. “Those interested in LEED tend to focus on one point when it comes to wood — if it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as coming from a responsibly managed forest. If urban wood does not have FSC certification they won’t go for it. But urban wood can help a project pick up several points in other LEED categories, such as recycled materials, reclaimed materials, and locally manufactured and harvested resources. That last LEED characteristic of ‘local’ can be a key opportunity — especially now that LEED v4 reduces what is considered the local radius from 500 miles to 100 miles. Ultimately, the real challenge is figuring out how to fit urban wood into the LEED program and then working with people to get them past the misconception that if it is not FSC certified that it can’t qualify for points.”

Read the full interview with Laureen Blissard on UrbanWoodNetwork.org.