New techniques mean that wood can now be used for much taller buildings - "Wood has many attractions as a construction material, apart from its aesthetic qualities. A wooden building is about a quarter of the weight of an equivalent reinforced-concrete structure, which means foundations can be smaller. Timber is a sustainable material and a natural 'sink' for CO2... Using wood could reduce their carbon footprint by 60-75%, according to some studies. There are two main concerns about using wood to build high. The first is whether wood is strong enough... the second worry: fire."
A 600-Year-Old Oak Tree Finally Succumbs [The New York Times] “The locals say that George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette — the Frenchman who bankrolled the American patriots with cold, hard cash — picnicked in the shade it provided. Rank-and-file soldiers are said to have rested under it, gathering strength before going on to beat the redcoats. It is a huge oak tree, now estimated to be 600 years old. Arborists such as Rob Gillies consider it one of the oldest in North America. It is a local landmark, right there in the cemetery of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. On Thursday, Mr. Gillies sliced into it with a chain saw.”
Marble sculptures by Ortwin Gruettner.
- Cheese, Mice, Marbles, Surprise!
- Murmi Does Not Like His Food
- Dragon Castle, Land, Village
- Marble Run Palace
Lichtenberg Figures are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or in the interior of insulating materials. Which is a fancy way of describing what is happening here. And you can do it too! (though please be extremely careful).
Rick Kelly, owner of Carmine Street Guitars makes guitars from the salvaged wood from old buildings.
Every guitar has a story. (via Great Big Story)
Every guitar has a story. (via Great Big Story)
Butterfly room divider A video showing the making of a butterfly room divider. More videos inside... [more inside]
For over 35 years, Roy Underhill has shared his love of American woodcraft. Using only the hand tools of early America, Roy proves that woodworking doesn’t have to be noisy, dangerous or expensive. His insights into the principles of the craft reveal the enduring relationship between tools and material — between the human hand and the creations of culture. 142 episodes of the Woodwright's Shop is available free of charge from PBS. Each episode features construction of a woodworking project using traditional methods or a lesson on use of a traditional tool or technique. [more inside]
Behold, the World's Fastest Log Car [Road and Track]
"THE FIRST TIME YOU SEE IT, your brain almost short circuits—nope, uh-uh, that's not real. But it is, and it is exactly what it looks like: a tree car. More specifically, it is a car made out of a western red cedar log with a concave mouth for a "grille", a wooden roll bar and wooden fenders, and a pair of turbines protruding from its rear. The thing looks ludicrous, like something a crazed Woody the Woodpecker would drive, or maybe a George Barris creation if he had ever gotten lost in the Pacific Northwest with an axe and a flask of whiskey. It gets better: The log car is rear-wheel drive, uses the mechanicals from a Mazda RX-7, and is powered by eight lithium-ion batteries. More than 500 pounds of them. Why? Why would someone do this, you might ask. And who? Who in the world would devote time to such a project? Also, what? What were they smoking? Must've been some potent stuff."
We've talked about wood identification before (previously), but there's so much more than The Wood Database, starting with Identification Of Common North American Woods. [more inside]
You were taught in school that the rain forest is like the lungs of our planet.
It’s not that simple.
It’s not that simple.
The website of Carl A. Eckelman, Ph.D., Professor of Wood Technology at Purdue University. Probably more than you wanted to know about joinery and cabinetmaking.
We've heard before about the Wood Database, which lists detailed information ranging from crushing strength to odor to sustainability for close to 200 different types of wood. But now, the project has a beautifully simple Pinterest page as well. You can browse images of burled wood, striped wood, golden wood, and even pink and purple wood - and every image links back to the database, if you want to find out more. [more inside]
"North America's only premium, handcrafted firewood manufacturer": The CBC's faux-news show This is That lays into the world of artisinal nonsense with fine craftsmanship and loving attention to detail.
In 2011, Ardbeg, a prominent Scotch whisky distiller, sent vials of its whisky to the International Space Station to mature. Those vials have been returned to Earth and subjected to taste tests alongside samples of the same whisky matured at Ardbeg's distillery. [more inside]
David C Roy designed and handcrafted over 150 different one-of-a-kind kinetic sculptures. Common elements in his work include motion and wood. They are powered by constant force springs. [more inside]
Andrew Klein demonstrates his custom saw blade designed for quickly making boxes and drawers. There's also a photo gallery if you want to skip the video.
Master barrel maker Alastair Simms speaks with Clare Finney about the history, skill and significance of his craft at his Yorkshire-based cooperage
Stian Korntved Ruud is nearing the end of a yearlong project in which he designs and crafts a unique wooden spoon every day. He's using hand tools exclusively. You can follow the results and see a little of the process on instagram. Via core77.
WK Fine Tools is an internet magazine devoted to traditional and fine woodworking. The site also maintains curated collections of downloadable woodworking books and tool catalogs and manuals. [more inside]
The Hundred Birds Project
1 year, 100 carved birds, 100 types of wood.
1 year, 100 carved birds, 100 types of wood.
Michael Green, a Canadian architect responsible for the Wood Innovation and Design Centre at UNBC presents The Case For Tall Wood Buildings [PDF]. He also gave a TED Talk: Why We Should Build Wooden Skyscrapers (transcript) [more inside]
If you've always wanted a wood-burning heating stove but can't be bothered to actually chop wood, your search is at an end. Perfect for that friend who has everything.
About 40 years ago, Edward D. Wood, Jr. published a number of short stories in "girly" mags (cover images likely NSFW), but those stories haven't been republished, until now. Blood Splatters Quickly collects 32 stories from Ed Wood, and you can read The Day The Mummy Returned on Boing Boing. If you like tales told by the monsters, io9 collected more of such stories, videos, and video games, and there's a related AskMe post, looking for stories where humans are the monsters, many of which can be read online, as linked below the break. [more inside]
Ever wondered how to make a basket out of willow rods or birch bark? How about a bow drill for lighting fires? Maybe you'd rather make your own cordage out of nettles and then use it to make a wood-and-thorn fishing hook? All this knowledge and more can be your at Jon's Bushcraft. (Bonus: he also makes fine art.)
First they're carved, then they are dipped, and finally they are painted. In the late 1930s, the Dalahäst (Dalecarlian horse, or Dala horse to Americans) made the transition from traditional home-made Swedish toy to Swedish symbol when they became the centerpiece of the Swedish Pavilions at the 1939 World's Fair. Although many (Scandinavian-)Americans associate the brightly painted wooden horses painted in the kurbits style with yuletide decor, the toys have no seasonal assignation for Swedes.
A visual tour of downtown Los Angeles, now and then:
What tools did the Vikings use to construct their ships? During the early years of the Song dynasty, while Sridhar Acharya's concept of "zero" was making it's way westward and a pair of anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets was committing the tale of Beowulf to animal skin, a Viking craftsman lost his tool chest. It is speculated that the chest fell overboard off a ship or through the ice into what was then a swamp on the modern island of Gotland, Sweden. The chest was unearthed in 1936 when a chain attached to the chest got caught on a farmer's plow. In it were the tools a Viking blacksmith/ship builder would need to ply his trade. Named the Mästermyr chest its discovery was a boon to archaeologists, historians, re-enactors, woodworkers and blacksmiths. The original tools (catalogue of the items) were restored and put on display. Numerous copies and tributes of the chest or selected tools have been made over the years including a complete replica of both the chest and contents made using period techniques as a 'net project of a blacksmiths and woodworkers. [more inside]
Chinese New Year's eve and its the Year of the Wood Horse according to the annual rotation of 12 animals and 5 elements followed by Chinese geomancers. Horse babies are always welcome, especially boys. Less known however is the stigma attached to the girl child born in the year of the Fire Horse. [more inside]
Shigeru Ban: ‘People’s architect’ combines permanence and paper"
Generally speaking, an architect’s style is defined by particular forms or shapes. There’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s prominent horizontal lines, for instance; Le Corbusier’s simple white boxes; or, more recently, the deliberately abstract masses of Frank Gehry — of Guggenheim Bilbao fame. But in the view of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, such formal elements are ultimately little more than reflections of current trends — in the first two cases above, Modernism, and in the third, “blobbism,” or the recent taste for irregular shapes made possible by computer-aided design. According to Ban, the only way for architects to keep their work free from the influence of such transient fashions is to come up with new ways to actually build things — new materials, for example, or new approaches to structural engineering. His own answer? Paper — or, to be more precise, cardboard tubes.[more inside]
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
Trashswag is a crowdsourced map for people to share and post reusable materials that they spot left outside. It is a resource for creative hobbyists, artists and people conducting renovation works to find unique, salvageable old wood, windows, doors, metal, glass and furniture. So far I think it's mostly Toronto and Montreal but is expanding to other areas.
A contestant on a Spanish talent show builds a mobile using natural materials. It's worth watching to the very end.
A nicely crafted video showing the construction of a treadle lathe, a foot-powered device for woodturning. The builder uses only hand tools and traditional methods; even the drill press is hand-cranked. Useful for those interested in constructing such a thing, mesmerizing for those who enjoy "how it's made"-type videos.
Marquetry is the art of making pictures composed of cut pieces of wood veneer which are then attached to a piece of furniture. Silas Kopf is perhaps the best known American doing marquetry. He works in Easthampton, MA on cabinets, desks, and at one time, pianos for Steinway. He also decorated a piano for Walden Woods using indigenous wood. [more inside]
“Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning” This best selling book by Lars Mytting highlights a passion for firewood and inspired a TV program in Norway about cutting, stacking and burning firewood. The TV program, on the topic of firewood, consisted mostly of people in parkas chatting and chopping in the woods and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Yet no sooner had it begun, on prime time on Friday night, than the angry responses came pouring in. “We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program,” said [Mr.] Mytting .... “Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down."
Wood Central is a long lived forum for woodworkers predating even young upstart Metafilter. Having been around for so long the forums are a source of immense knowledge of all things wood and some of that has been collected into posting archives and essays on their Articles and Reviews page. So if you ever wanted to know
- How to make a Double Twisted Dovetail joint
- How a totally blind wood worker manages his craft
- How to Age Cherry with NaOH
- How to construct a paddle
- How to safely use a chainsaw
- How to use electricity to remove rust from tools
- How to make a fancy bow saw
- How to make a Fibonacci Gauge and why you would want to.
Richard Garriott, perhaps better known as Lord British, has a wonderful collection of wooden automata in his house, in his Austin, Texas home Britannia Manor II (complete with observatory, and put up for sale in 2011). Here is an automata museum exhibit courtesy the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Glasgow. Or perhaps you would like to see more from individual automata artists? Perhaps you find this new-fangled stuff insufficiently respectful of the past: would you like a history lesson (links to the left)? Or might you like to learn how to make your own, out of paper? If all else fails, how about these anti-war automata?
If you've ever had a door or drawer that sticks during some parts of the year but not others, you have received a practical lesson in seasonal wood movement due to humidity. As the humidity changes, so do the dimensions of a piece of wood - sometimes to the breaking point. [more inside]