Washington DC

Hardwood Federation

The Hardwood Industry’s Voice in Washington D.C.

A note from the Director of Strategic Planning – Bob Miller

It was about 5 years ago when I was given the opportunity to be a board member on the Hardwood Federation (HF).  The HF is a coalition of hardwood industry associations, whose association members visit Washington D.C. each year, to meet with their U.S. Senators and U.S. House of Representatives to advocate for policy that directly impacts the hardwood industry.  The HF is a bipartisan association.  It supports all political parties and has a political action committee (PAC) that is funded by the members of the coalition of associations.  These PAC monies are used to help fund campaigns to keep our loyal advocates in office.

The hardwood industry is dependent on federal legislation.  We need to make sure all proposed legislation is good for our environment and for our industry.  This proposed legislation could affect forest management in our private and public forestlands where we are focused on producing better plant and wildlife habitat while reducing the chance of wildfires by removing excess forest fuel loads, environmental regulations when we utilize sawdust as a substitute fuel source to fossil fuels when drying our lumber and heating our buildings in the winter months, or when we are transporting our products on the state highway and interstate highway road systems and when those regulations differ between the two road systems.  Regardless, we must have a presence in Washington D.C., and I am privileged to be one of many in our industry given the opportunity to be an advocate for our industry associations, Frank Miller Lumber Company, and for the hardwood industry.    

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

The hardwood industry’s voice would be ineffective and powerless in D.C. if we did not have advocates for our industry, our U.S. Senators and U.S. House of Representatives.  If it were not for these elected officials and their willingness to learn more about forest management and about our industry, the hardwood industry and our forest ecosystems would not be what they are today.  These Congressional leaders are the ones who carry our message on Capitol Hill.  As previously mentioned, we want to make sure these men and women remain in office, and the perfect vessel to help ensure that is with the HF PAC.  Last year I was given the opportunity to serve as the HF PAC Chair.  I have enjoyed that opportunity!        

Kauffman Center for Performing Arts: Helzberg Hall

The Truth About Quartersawn Red Oak!

Quartersawn Red Oak has increasingly found its place as a premium hardwood choice for flooring, cabinetry, millwork and furniture. It is readily available and affordable.

The straight grain of quartersawn Red Oak will restrict its shrinkage to the thickness of the board as opposed to width.

Our forest has an abundant supply of Red Oak, which has a stronger growth trajectory than popular alternatives.

Medullary rays are shorter in Red Oak resulting in subtly figured “quartered” boards and “rift” boards that display straight grain with minimal flake.

This also minimizes warping and cupping. Its inherent qualities of stability, beauty, and durability places Red Oak in the company of other premium American hardwoods.

Why Forest Management is Important to the Environment.

Are you concerned about our climate? This is what Frank Miller Lumber is doing to ease your concerns.

Most people have heard trees are the best asset when it comes to protecting our environment from changes in the climate.  Climate change is often debated.  Some say we are not experiencing a change in our climate and that we are going through historical weather cycles we once experienced; others tend to say the opposite.  Regardless of your position on climate change, maintaining healthy forests is key to improving the world we live in.  Trees consume carbon dioxide to convert that compound into a food source for the tree.  Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.  As trees consume and convert this compound using the carbon to help create its food, the trees respire the oxygen molecules for us to breath. 

Trees have a life cycle. 

A life cycle is nothing more than the number of years something is expected to live, be present, or exist before it dies, decomposes, or breaks down.  Through forest management, we remove the trees that are close to the end of their life cycle.  These trees will be manufactured into lumber to produce furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and millwork.  Better yet, you remember the carbon in these trees.  This carbon will be stored in these products indefinitely as long as these products are in use.  If a tree falls over and decomposes in the forest, it will release the unused carbon that it once stored.  That carbon will go back into the atmosphere.       

Not only do trees help us by taking a greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and provide us with oxygen, but did you know trees are also a renewable resource?  A renewable resource is anything that can replenish itself.  So, when forest management is performed where trees are removed, new trees will grow from the stumps and root systems that remain in the forest.

Our nation has been truly blessed with some of the best forests in the world.  For these forests to be enjoyed on into the future and for us to have a better environment to live in, we must understand that forest management is essential in these forests.                           

Learn more about FSC-certified Hardwood.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Hardwood Flooring Exposed.

Since the dawn of time, humans have argued over a very pressing issue: hardwood or carpet flooring? The debate continues to this day – some will praise the comfort a carpet provides while others prefer the more polished look of hardwood floors. But we hold a firm belief that, no matter what, hardwood floors are the way to go. Below is a list of reasons why you should consider hardwood flooring exposed.

1. Hardwood floors are easier to clean and maintain.

Carpets are prone to holding dust, skin, and hair. To get rid of these stomach-churning particles, you’ll need to vacuum. If you want them eliminated almost entirely, a professional carpet cleaning service might be necessary. Luckily, hardwood floors don’t hold on to these particles. A quick sweep or mop will do the trick to keep your floor clean. We also all know the dreaded feeling of spilling a drink on carpet – it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the whole stain. With hardwood floors, just grab a paper towel or rag, and you’re good!

Hardwood Flooring Exposed.

2. Hardwood floors are more durable and longer lasting.

As long as your hardwood floor is properly maintained, it can last for decades. Even a dent in the floor can be alleviated easily with a minor repair. They can be refined and polished to keep fresh and clean. Hardwood floors also take much longer to go out of style – remember shag carpets? Yeah, we’d like to forget that, too.

3. Hardwood floors are more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

While carpeting is usually manufactured with synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester, hardwood floors come from nature’s greatest gift: trees. They are produced naturally and created using the most abundant renewable resource in the world. You also have the option to research how sustainable your hardwood flooring really is using industry standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council and other like-minded organizations.

4. Hardwood floors can help you save energy.

Since wood is a conductor, hardwood floors allow the heat to pass through and circulate in your home, unlike carpet which acts as a barrier for hot air. This means longer-lasting heat, and consequently, less work from your furnace, and most importantly, lower heating bills.

5. Hardwood floors simply look more stylish.

Hardwood flooring is becoming trendier as the years go on. There is a seemingly endless amount of wood types, colors, and designs you can choose from that can bring out your inner interior designer. Different stains and polishes can help make your floors even more unique. Plus, a rug can really tie a room together.

Let’s face it: carpets are losing their popularity. If you want to keep current, hardwood flooring is the most logical option. For environmentally-conscious folk, there is nothing better for a home than a nature-friendly material like hardwood. And for those who love interior design, there are more opportunities to use your creativity and imagination, enabling you to put together a perfectly styled home. If you are currently building or planning on building a home, definitely think about installing hardwood instead of carpet – maybe, soon enough, this debate will end for good.

Unusual Myths about the Lumber Industry.

When pondering over the current state of our environment, many people begin to envision a futuristic world consisting of chrome and steel. In this version of a future reality (often seen in post-apocalyptic films and TV shows), humanity has wiped out forests in their entirety. Land that was once full of life is now a desolate wasteland. Natural geography is vastly unrecognizable from what it was long ago. Construction and development needs are put above the ecosystem but now, it’s too late to go back and warn everyone of the dark path ahead. Learn more about the unusual myths about the lumber industry below. 

We understand it is not easy to be optimistic. But remain calm! In reality, the forests of the world, especially in the United States, have proven to remain sustainable and usable for the foreseeable future. Specifically, the lumber industry though seemingly contradictory has created clear initiatives to ensure that this haunting vision of a post-apocalyptic world won’t happen.

Still, many misconceptions remain. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest myths about forest management and the lumber industry’s impact on our environment. We hope that by the time you’ve finished reading, your perception of the future will change for the better.

Unusual Myths about the Lumber IndustryMyth: Cities and urban areas are taking over forests and trees

Fact: The volume of U.S. hardwoods has actually increased by more than 90 percent in the last half-century while forest acreage has increased by 18 percent. And despite a 165 percent growth in population since 1920, U.S. forest acreage has continued to remain stable.

Myth: The only easy way to obtain wood is through clear-cutting entire forests

Fact: The preferred method of harvesting hardwoods is in fact single-tree selection, as opposed to clear-cutting. With single-tree selection, trees are carefully selected for harvest, most of them aged to maturity. This careful removal of selected trees creates openings in the forest canopy, allowing more precipitation, nutrients and sunlight to reach the forest floor. Seedlings are then free to sprout and grow naturally. This results in a much more sustainable outcome than solely using the clear-cutting method.

Myth: Using steel, aluminum, and concrete for construction is better for the environment

Fact: Wood represents 47 percent of all raw materials used in the US, but the energy to produce wood products accounts for just 4 percent of the energy used to make all manufactured materials. In fact, using materials like steel, aluminum, and concrete require significantly more energy to produce, install and dispose of at the end of their natural life cycles as compared to American hardwoods.

Unusual Myths about the Lumber Industry

Myth: Wood may have been a great choice in the past, but we’re in the future now

Fact: Sometimes, the oldest way is the best way. To this day, wood proves to be the best material for construction. Of course, we don’t use the same old tricks anymore — modern wood manufacturing processes have become extraordinarily efficient. Virtually every part of the log is used as lumber or valuable by-products, while finished wood products are reusable, recyclable and biodegradable. Forest sustainability organizations now reach far and wide.

The Verdict

American hardwood harvesting is efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. We know it sounds contradictory, but it is the truth using lumber from America’s lively forests can actually help save the world as a whole.

Frank Miller Lumber is dedicated to this idea of sustainable forest management. Our FSC-certified lumber is used in many projects that meet LEED standards and we continue to run a “zero-waste facility” at our sawmill. Not only does our lumber come out beautiful, authentic, and durable, it also adds to our mission of sustainability.

Hopefully, this cleared up a few misconceptions about the lumber industry and the use of wood products. Next time you build a new home or simply buy a new desk for your study, remember: you could have a role in saving the environment.

For more information on sustainability initiatives within Frank Miller Lumber and the American hardwood industry, go to our Sustainability page.

Customer and Community Projects: User-submitted woodworking projects we feature on our social media!

Frank Miller Lumber social media followers who have been with us for the last year might have noticed some major changes in our activity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We are now more committed than ever to engaging more often with the community and Frank Miller Lumber customers across the nation and around the world. Something we did not expect to do was discover an extremely creative group of people who have a deep passion for woodworking.

Woodwork Wednesday was met with immediate popularity when we began the push for submissions earlier this year. We started by calling on our followers to send in their woodworking projects which, as of today, has given us a wide range of results: nightstands, bed frames, tables, chairs, and even a Star Wars lightsaber replica. Tapping into this woodworking community has also showed how important our lumber is for handmade furniture, decor, and passion projects, in addition to the large architectural projects for which we are known. It showed us that Frank Miller Lumber can be used from the smallest of projects (like a bunk bed set for grandchildren), to the largest, (like the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia).

All of us are amazed by the hard work our friends and customers from the Frank Miller Lumber community have put into these passion projects. It’s our goal to create an entire page on our website dedicated to all of the Woodwork Wednesday submissions and the stories behind each piece. For the remainder of this blog, we’d like to share some of our favorites so far.

The first Woodwork Wednesday submission we received blew us away and exceeded all expectations. Matt Carter from our own Union City, IN, created this unbelievable replica of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber using our retail store’s cherry hardwood. (See image above).

Bernie Spencer sent us a red oak constructed round etagere perfect for displaying decorations in any setting ― made with Frank Miller Lumber hardwood.

 

 

Ralph Walker from Columbus, Ohio, was featured for his folding chairs made with Frank Miller Lumber’s quartersawn white oak. Ralph built 16 of these at the time of this submission, with a plan to build 14 more. Not only were the chairs remarkable, but the photos looked equally spectacular!

 

 

One of the more endearing feats of construction that we showcased were Keith Mealy’s bunk beds built for his twin granddaughters, which could also be unbunked and used as single beds!

 

 

These are just a few examples we have showcased over the course of the last few months, which you can see through our weekly social media posts. It has been an inspirational experience seeing how much Frank Miller Lumber impacts the community with our wood in home projects,  and woodworking businesses.

Please send us your work via a Facebook message or our email (frankmillerlumber@gmail.com). We love hearing the stories behind some of them, so remember to include a quick description of the piece along with where the lumber was bought (which we hope is from Frank Miller Lumber!). Stay tuned in the coming months for a new web page including all past, present, and future submissions ― your work could be showcased and archived on the official Frank Miller Lumber website!

Keep on woodworking ― you continue to amaze us.

 

quartersawn walnut - frank miller lumber

The Truth about Specifying Quartersawn Walnut

While working with a well-known designer in New York I asked him to define the mission of a designer. He said that it is threefold:

  1. Create a design
  2. Convey the design to the client
  3. Make it deliverable

As an architectural consultant, I can help to make the job deliverable if it involves American hardwood, especially quartersawn American hardwoods. In trying to sync the specification with the realities of the resource, this first conversation can sometimes be disappointing. The specification looks so good on paper and in many cases the client has virtually unlimited funds, so how can it be that the spec isn’t deliverable? The fact is some hardwood specs are unattainable because of nature.

Riva 2910 boss basic quartersawn walnut table
Boss Basic table made with Quartersawn Walnut | Riva 1920
https://www.riva1920.it/en/prodotti/tables/boss-basic/

Every tree is different and the client’s desire to see all the hardwood in their project looking exactly the same is often impossible. That disappointing first conversation, however, is free of acrimony or litigation. If a promise is made to supply that unrealistic specification and it doesn’t happen, acrimony and litigation are certain to follow. With that in mind, let me share with you the story of a specification of quartersawn walnut.

We recently turned down the opportunity to quote on a quartersawn walnut project for a hotel; the spec included FSC certification. Frank Miller Lumber is the largest FSC-certified quartersawn hardwood lumber sawmill in the world. There are only a handful of similarly-sized quartersawn hardwood sawmills in the United States. We currently hold the nation’s largest inventory of FSC-certified quartersawn white and red oak lumber. We occasionally produce some FSC-certified cherry and walnut as well. However, our ability to produce FSC-certified lumber is limited to the availability of FSC-certified logs.

The number of FSC-certified timber producers is steadily declining in the United States. FSC level sustainability standards are no longer being met, but because the cost of certification and its connected paperwork can make FSC certification a bit daunting to some timber producers, despite its merits. Since walnut represents 1% of the American hardwood resource, the chance of coming across FSC-certified walnut logs is extremely remote.

We had to turn down the opportunity to provide a quote on the hotel project. I wouldn’t quote FSC-certified quartersawn walnut for a small residence and there is certainly no way to quote enough to handle a hotel.

Another unrelated project recently was 30,000 square feet of quartersawn walnut flooring for the executive offices of a well-known firm I can’t name. This wasn’t FSC-certified, but the sheer volume of the project disqualified it out of the gate. Adding to the impossibility of the specification was the walnut flooring couldn’t exhibit any “natural characteristics.” That is the sort of specification that leads only to disappointment.

The advice I offer to everyone who is pondering the use of quartersawn walnut: Check your specs and expectations with mill representatives before you make promises that will go unfulfilled. Client conversations regarding broken promises are not just disappointing, but often acrimonious and litigious.

Built to Last – How Durable Is Wood?

Just how durable is wood as a construction material? Consider Hōryū-ji, the Temple of the Flourishing Law, in Ikaruga, Japan. Recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site and a national treasure of Japan, Hōryū-ji was built in the year 711 as a Buddhist temple. It eventually came to be known as one of the Seven Great Temples. At over 1300 years old, the temple is one of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world.

Hōryū-ji is an expanse of many wooden structures with some of the wood structural elements being considerably older than the overall finished complex. A five-story pagoda on the grounds includes a central wooden pillar that is believed to have been felled in the year 594. It is so old that a fragment of one of Buddha’s actual bones is believed to be enshrined at its base.

The pure age of this beautiful structure is not the only testament to the durability of its wooden composition. Hōryū-ji is not just a piece of wooden history preserved in a climate controlled museum or protected in a glass case — it is a well-used, functional building. The temple has enjoyed continuous observance of Buddhist traditions for the last fourteen centuries. But it’s not just human wear and tear this beautiful wood building has tolerated — it is an ironman of environmental endurance as well. Since construction was completed, Hōryū-ji has survived at least 46 different earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater. When you take into consideration that this was all accomplished without the aid of modern construction equipment, computerized engineering or advanced synthetic material treatments, it is hard not to be inspired by this wooden marvel.

Wood is both a modern, high-tech, environmentally-friendly architectural construction material, and a proven building material of lasting strength, durability and beauty that is unrivaled by any other material on earth.

Sources:

http://www.horyuji.or.jp/horyuji_e.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hōryū-ji

https://gizmodo.com/5846501/how-japans-oldest-wooden-building-is-still-standing

Harvest a Tree, Save the Planet: Part II

American hardwoods are an environmentally responsible interior finish building material. From selection harvesting, forest acreage growth to renewability and animal habitat formation, American hardwood lumber is one of the best material choices that can be made by the design community.

Environmental responsibility goes beyond sustainability, however. Looking at hardwood as a construction material and its impact on the environment, it is a very attractive option compared to other building materials.

Unlike most other building materials, as hardwood trees grow, they are actively pulling carbon from the environment while producing oxygen. This sequestration of carbon is a long-term effect that locks away that carbon permanently. Over half the weight of a kiln-dried American hardwood board is captured carbon. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that each year U.S. forests remove the greenhouse gases emitted by 139 million cars, or about 13 tons of dust and gas per acre.

Wood represents 47 percent of all raw materials used in the U.S., but the energy used to produce wood products accounts for just 4 percent of the energy used to make all manufactured materials. Products like steel, aluminum, concrete, glass and synthetics require significantly more energy to produce, install and dispose of at the end of their natural life cycles as compared to American hardwoods. Wood removes carbon dioxide from the environment, requires less energy to process and manufacture, and has a much smaller carbon footprint than many other resources.

No one material is perfect in all applications. When wood is used, it has some distinct environmental advantages over other common materials like steel and concrete. Steel usage, for example, releases 24 percent more pollutants into the air and 34 percent more greenhouse gases than wood. Concrete usage requires 57 percent more energy consumption, causes 81 percent more greenhouse gas emission and 350 percent more water pollution than wood. Replacing 1 cubic meter of concrete with 1 cubic meter of wood saves approximately one ton of CO2.

Keep in mind that the United States controls approximately 9% of the world’s hardwood resource, satisfies more than 25% of the world’s appetite for hardwoods in furniture, flooring and joinery and there is more than twice the volume of hardwood growing in the United States as compared to 50 years ago.

Harvest a Tree, Save the Planet

OK, maybe don’t run out to the backyard and fell that beautiful oak tree that provides cool, shady relief during warm summer barbecues, but there is some truth to the idea that utilizing our hardwood resource like can be of benefit to the pale blue dot we call home. While there are justifiable concerns regarding the removal of trees across the planet, the American hardwood industry is a story of success with very real benefits to the environment.

Not all forestry practices are the same, and these varied approaches to harvesting wood can mean the difference between helping and harming the environment. When many people think of tree harvesting, images of forest destruction and clear cutting come to mind. For example, in some areas of the world, beautiful trees are burned to make way for cattle grazing, palm oil production or bamboo growth. The harvest of American hardwood is a very different endeavor with very different results. In the continental United States, there is an abundance of hardwood forestland, covering 279 million acres.

Approximately 80 percent of this hardwood forest land is controlled by millions of private landowners. From this private land, about 92 percent of all hardwood production is generated. It’s typical for these private landowners to harvest only once or twice in their lifetimes. In stark contrast to clearcutting, the harvesting of hardwoods is a selective process that means removing trees at the height of their maturity, after they have absorbed as much carbon as they will absorb in their lifetime. Once a hardwood tree is harvested and rendered into logs, boards and ultimately furniture, flooring or millwork, half the weight of the dried hardwood is carbon, captured forever. Unlike softwoods, hardwoods will generally propagate without the deliberate planting by a farmer. In selecting mature trees for harvest, the forest canopy is opened, allowing light and water to reach seeds the trees have dropped to the forest floor.  Hardwood trees are known to be “shade tolerant”, which means that they don’t require a great deal of sunlight to grow. In contrast, softwoods are “shade intolerant,” requiring the clear cutting of swaths of forest and replanting by hand to allow maximum light to reach the saplings.

The American hardwood industry is truly sustainable and renewable, driving forest growth. Through the diligent practice of sustainable forest management, in the last 50 years hardwood forest acreage in the United States has actually increased by 18 percent. From the American Hardwood Information Center: “According to the U.S. Forest Service, there were 119 percent more hardwood trees in 2007 than in 1953, with the growth-to-removal ratio of 2.00 (two new trees for every one removed)”.

The overall volume of American hardwoods has more than doubled in the past 50 years. What does all this forest growth mean for the health of the planet? Over the course of a year, 100 trees can remove 53 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Those same trees can also pull 430 pounds of other pollutants out of the air. This is in addition to the increased biodiversity of flora and fauna that comes with expanding, thriving forest habitat. So yes, removing a tree is good for the planet — when that tree is an American hardwood.  This precious natural resource adds beauty to the world in finished products and represents the ultimate in sustainability.