December 01, 2017

Juniper road trip: Our autumn tour of juniper mills

By KC Eisenberg

Earlier this fall, we took some time to travel around Eastern Oregon and visit the mills that are cutting juniper for us. It was an opportunity for usto meet some folks who are new to the scene, and to keep our finger on the pulse of the mills as they work to produce ever more juniper for growing markets up and down the West Coast.

First, we visited with Caleb Morris, who runs the juniper milling operation for the Ritter Land Management Team. A collaborative group of landowners near the "place" of Ritter (it's not technically a town, they take care to explain to visitors, but a community nonetheless) is working toward juniper remediation by culling logs from overgrown private ranchlands. They recently qualified for a grant through the Western Juniper Industry Fund to invest in a sawmill, and plan to turn the juniper into useful lumber to help offset the costs of the landscape restoration efforts.

Next we ventured to John Day to see the new milling operation at Malheur Lumber, a sawmill that is owned by the larger timber company Ochoco Lumber. Ochoco is a staple in Eastern Oregon and has been in operation since the 1930's, cutting Ponderosa pine and other softwoods harvested from the bountiful forests nearby.

As the forests and rangelands changed over the decades, with juniper encroaching on Ponderosa territory and the composition of the woods changing, Ochoco saw an opportunity in juniper, and recently, through the Western Juniper Industry Fund, acquired special milling equipment to cut it. We recently brought in 2x10 and 2x12 juniper from this mill and anticipate introducing more of this lumber to our customers in 2018.

After John Day, we stopped in the hamlet of Dayville, along the scenic banks of the South Fork of the John Day River, to talk with two small mills there, South Fork Gardens and South Fork Mill.

And finally, we visited In The Sticks Sawmill in Fossil, which is owned by Kendall Derby. We have worked with Kendall from the start of our work with juniper and have enjoyed watching his business blossom as the market for juniper has grown. Kendall, too, recently acquired more milling equipment and is rapidly producing high-quality, beautiful juniper lumber.  

The upshot of this uplifting tour is that we expect to be able to provide growing markets with a stable and steady supply of juniper lumber in the coming months.

November 02, 2017

Myrtlewood Enjoys a Moment

By KC Eisenberg

Myrtlewood is enjoying a much-deserved moment in the spolight. Which is great, because this unique Oregon species has a look like no other.

A stalwart feature of souvenir shops and 1970's memorabilia, myrtlewood has for decades been known as "the Oregon wood." But despite its popularity for use as Christmas tree ornaments, puzzles, carved bowls, and other trinkets, it is only beginning to be known as a beautiful and unique choice for interior furnishings and flooring. It provides a warmth and silkiness that no other species can. Some special pieces of the wood are so lustrous that they appear nearly three-dimensional, like you can see down into the grain. 

We're delighted that local craftspeople have discovered this special wood and are using it for distinctive, memorable installations around town. Here are some of our favorites.

Breakside Brews' new Slabtown location
This brewpub uses myrtlewood for much of its dining room casework and seating. Paired with metal, black vinyl, and raw concrete, the look is fresh and modern, but still warm and inviting. The golden tones of the wood and the thoughtful details of the installation, by Mallet PDX, invite closer inspection.

Stumptown Reclaimed's myrtlewood dining tables
Stumptown Reclaimed specializes in furniture made from unique local woods. Not all is reclaimed; a good portion of what they make uses reclaimed fir, but they also use wood from salvage sources, including our myrtlewood. We love the rustic-meets-modern look of these special tables.

October 12, 2017

End-of-Season Clearance Sale

By KC Eisenberg

It's that time of the year again! We're cleaning out our warehouse and we've got some great savings to pass on to you.

This year we're partnering with Epilogue Urban Lumber and Balanced Energy Solutions to offer even more sustainable lumber and green building goodies!

One day only: Saturday, October 21 from 9am to 3pm at Sustainable Northwest Wood

Many items including:
  • Epilogue live-edge slabs 25 to 50% OFF
  • Last season's 2x6 and 2x8 economy-grade juniper lumber 50% OFF
  • Campground Blue Pine live-edge slabs 50% OFF (sale price $3.00 per board foot)
  • Hardwood lumber staves (1” x 2”) in walnut, maple, and blue pine ALL $.25/LF
  • FSC Douglas Fir 4x and 6x beams (seconds) 50% OFF
October 12, 2017

Forests need fires to flourish

By KC Eisenberg

The photos of the burns are shocking, and it’s impossible not to react emotionally: It looks like actual hell to see the charred remains of our favorite hiking trails, to see the blackened, ghostly sticks that were just recently lush green trees.

But we must remember that, to varying degrees, our Northwest forests evolved to burn. These fires, as shocking as they are to our eyes and hearts, are an essential component of forest health in the Pacific Northwest. Many species of trees and animals, including Sequoias, lodgepole and jack pines, and Melanophila beetles, require periodic fires to reproduce. The fleeting burnt landscape is home to dozens of unique species that can only survive in a recent burn. Pollinators thrive in the springtime blooms of sunny open areas. Soils are nourished as burnt wood decays. And then, ever so quickly, the forest begins to regrow.

Our forests need fires – the right kind of fires – to flourish.

Evidence shows that the best actions we can take in modern Western forests are an increasing tolerance for burns coupled with strategically-placed restoration projects that reduce fuel loads, thin overcrowded stands of young trees, and work to restore forests rich with trees of diverse ages and species. In areas that have historically been heavily impacted by logging, this work takes on extra urgency, as these areas are often the most prone to uncharacteristic fires.

Human disruption to the natural, healthy fire cycle is, we’re learning, often far more damaging than the fires themselves. When we enact policies to stomp out fires as soon as they start, we’re setting up forests for larger, more damaging burns down the road. If we go in haphazardly after a burn to “salvage” the standing dead, our heavy equipment compacts the soil and removes legacy trees that provide shade and important habitat.

And when we clear-cut vast acreage only to replant in dense, impenetrable monocrops, as we have done across millions of acres of the forested West, we’re asking for sick, stressed, dried-out and defenseless trees – in short, we’re asking for catastrophe.

Commercial logging projects are often not designed with restoration in mind, but there are increasing examples of successful projects that restore forests while also providing logs to local mills, and logging jobs to local economies. We’re proud to source wood from Malheur Lumber Company that is procured through the Blue Mountain Forest Partners, and we hope that in the near future, more of this type of lumber is available.

We also hope that, rather than using shock-and-awe photos and dire news reports as an excuse to open up new areas to extractive logging, our elected officials use this opportunity to boost funding for evidence-based, collaborative restoration projects that are designed to restore forest health and biodiversity while also supporting the growth of local economies.
September 28, 2017

New larger sizes of butcher block slabs now in stock!

By KC Eisenberg

We're adding a larger size to our selection of in-stock, ready-to-go butcher block slabs: 1 1/2" x 40" x lengths of 4' through 8'.

This larger size is a quick and economical solution for island tops, tables, and other areas that need more coverage. They're in the side-grain style, unfinished, with square edges. They're all made of solid, kiln-dried, locally grown wood.

We're still offering the standard size of 1 1/2" x 26 1/2" x lengths of 4', through 10'. And we can make many custom sizes and styles as well!
September 18, 2017

Project Profile: Cowhorn Winery

By KC Eisenberg

Nestled in the sun-dappled foothills of Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley, Cowhorn Winery makes award-winning, Biodynamic-certified wines. Because they're in daily, direct contact with the soils and ecosystem that produce the grapes upon which their wines rely, when it came time to build a new tasting room, Cowhorn's owners insisted on doing it with only the most responsible, sustainable building products available.

Working with Portland-based general contractor Green Hammer and the design team at 2Yoke, they planned a light-filled, airy space that would meet the stringent criteria of the Living Building Challenge. To achieve this goal, they constructed the buildings with our FSC Certified, locally-manufactured dimensional lumber and plywood. The exterior of the tasting room features FSC 100% Western Red Cedar, specially milled with a custom profile.

The winery also features expansive outdoor areas for alfresco enjoyment of the wines -- these spaces were constructed with FSC cedar and our Restoration Juniper lumber, which also meets Living Building criteria.

July 03, 2017

Introducing FSC Port Orford Cedar

By KC Eisenberg

Sustainable Northwest Wood is proud to announce the newest species in our family of wood products: Port Orford Cedar.

Port Orford Cedar is a native evergreen that grows only in the coastal mountains of Southern Oregon and Northern California. It is renowned for its strength, stability, and structural integrity. Ours is sourced exclusively through Walker Creek Ecoforestry, an intentional living community near Coquille, Oregon. This community consists of 365 forested acres that comprise two-thirds of the Walker Creek watershed. It is protected under a conservation easement with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and is managed to the exacting standards of the Forest Stewarship Council.

Chip and Jennifer Boggs have been stewards of the property since 1989.  In 2001, a forest plan was written by Jerry Becker of EcoForestry Management, and in 2005 the forestry business was born, selling 1000 board feet of alder logs to a small local mill.  From 2007 to 2014, the Boggses hired local sawyers with portable mills to produce lumber. In 2014 they were able to acquire their own Woodmizer mill, which was an antique contraption dating back to 1989. Partly due to their recent sale of Port Orford Cedar to us, they have just upgraded to a brand new Woodmizer LT35.

Otherwise, Chip notes, the business is not equipment intensive: two saws, a Kubota tractor with a PTO-driven winch, a 16 foot trailer, and a 1984 diesel pickup comprise the Walker Creek “fleet," as he calls it.

Besides being a steady, part-time income for Chip and Jen, the forestry business provides a way to manifest their land conservation ethics and make wood products available to those who share similar ethics. We are very pleased to be working with them for the Port Orford Cedar.

We are currently stocking full dimension, rough Port Orford Cedar in 1x6 and 2x6 dimensions. Lengths are random, 8' to 16'. Custom products including decking and surfaced lumber are available.

Click here to view our Port Orford Cedar webpage and gallery.
May 31, 2017

Project Profile: Campground Blue Pine at Breakside Brewery

By KC Eisenberg

When it comes to Breakside Brewery, the award-winning beer and excellent food are generally all the reasons people need to visit again and again. But at their new Slabtown location in NW Portland, we've got another great reason: The show-stopping Campground Blue Pine in the Pendleton Room.

This private dining and event space was designed to be a modern interpretation of traditional Northwest themes. Pendleton-patterned draperies adorn the floor-to-ceiling windows and custom upholstered dining chairs. The naturally-stained wood was a perfect choice to complement the colors and themes in this space: The wall paneling looks fresh and modern, and the natural wave of the live-edge communal table softens and warms the space.

Our Campground Blue Pine was sourced from beetle-kill and fire-salvage trees in Central and Southern Oregon. We work with small mills, including Malheur Lumber Company in John Day, for this special wood.

Craftsmanship by Clarkbuilt LLC and Mallet PDX.
May 24, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Why Sustainable Northwest Wood is Portland's Most Awesome Lumber Yard

By KC Eisenberg

Here are some of the reasons why Sustainable Northwest Wood is Portland's most rockin' place to buy lumber and wood products:

1. Local and sustainable sourcing - Everything we carry is from the Pacific Northwest and is grown on forests managed to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC) or as part of stewardship programs restoring native ecosystems.  We are 100% committed to sustainable wood -- it is our entire product offering, not just a small percentage of what we carry. 

We also work to shrink the size of our regional "woodshed" (think foodshed but for lumber) and provide products sourced as close to home as possible. This focus allows us to be the premier lumber supplier for Living Building Challenge projects in our region. Because we care deeply, we know more. No lumberyard knows more about Northwest woods than us.

2. Support for small sawmills - We are guided by the mission of supporting small mills in rural communities, bolstering sustainable economic development and job creation. We provide our sawyers with fair compensation, regardless of what the lumber commodity market tries to dictate. By working directly with local mills, we are also able to offer our specialty products at highly competitive prices.

3. Convenient inner-city location - Enjoy a hot cup of coffee and tell us about your project. Come to our inner Eastside showroom and we will help match you needs with the perfect NW species with the look, performance and price that you are after. Easy access for cars, trucks, and bikes. Come visit us today!

4. Large product selection - From framing timbers to flooring, rustic landscaping timbers to high-quality hardwoods, we've got lumber products for every part of your project. Click here to see our interior finishes, exterior lumber, and framing lumber and plywood.

5. Support a non-profit organization - We're a wholly-owned subsidiary of the conservation non-profit Sustainable Northwest and the first lumberyard to be owned by a non-profit. Sustainable Northwest works throughout the Pacific Northwest to forge collaborative solutions that restore forests, rivers, rangelands, and rural economies. Click here to learn more about their important work.

May 23, 2017

Juniper retaining walls: Long lasting and beautiful design options

By KC Eisenberg

Juniper is an ideal solution for building a wood retaining wall. It is long lasting (30+ years in ground-contact installations), free of chemicals and creosote, and has a beautiful, natural look to it that other types of wood simply cannot offer. Learn more about this wood and the ecosystem restoration projects from which it comes.

Here are some popular styles of juniper retaining walls and the specific lumber dimensions that were used to create them:

Juniper 2x6 stacked and supported with 4x4 vertical posts (photo credit Inner City Farm):

Stacked 6x6 timbers:

Stacked 5x5 timbers paired with decomposed granite:

More ideas for juniper retaining walls can be seen on this Pinterest board