Sustainable Northwest Wood loves Oregon White Oak and so do our customers; but are we "loving" it enough? Fire suppression, residential development, and conversion of native habitat for agricultural use have had a devastating effect on Oregon White Oak habitat. The greatest threat to oak is not the logging of individual trees, but the conversion of the oak habitat to other uses, such as vineyards and orchards. Today, a mere 3% of its historic range remains in the Willamette Valley. Our native oak woodlands and savannas are now considered some of the most threatened ecosystem types in the Pacific Northwest.
In response to this, a group of private land owners, led by Willamette Partnership, started The Oak Accord - a voluntary oak conservation program designed to urgently create awareness of oak habitats importance, to limit or halt its ongoing and rapid loss, and to promote long term stewardship. The Oak Accord is working to restore 20,000 acres of oak in the Willamette Valley and Sustainable Northwest Wood is committed to help reach this goal.
As a supplier of locally sourced materials from well-managed forests, we believe that restoration is an essential component of a resilient ecosystem and vibrant economy. In light of this belief, we pledge our support of The Oak Accord. Our partnership allows us and our customers to get involved in restoring this critical ecosystem. Sustainable Northwest Wood will be donating 10% of every Oregon White Oak purchase to the Oak Accord. Through this partnership, your purchases will directly support on-the-ground restoration projects.
A recent office remodel in downtown Portland was designed with elaborate custom casework that called for one-of-a-kind oak panels. The project architect wanted to use a locally-grown wood that would reflect a sense of place and add warmth and visual appeal to the space.
We were pleased to supply custom panels and slabs of solid Oregon white oak, milled to precise specifications, for the casework, interior panelings, and other office furnishings.
The results are stunning: Modern yet warm, inviting, and reflective of the special personality of the oak selected for the project!
More photos are available here.
Living in the Pacific Northwest instills a bioregional pride. We have the best forests, most beautiful coastline, rich river ecosystems and great homegrown beer, wine and food. It’s no secret that Native Americans sustained for millennia from the bounty that is provided by the forests of the Northwest. What is a secret is the abundance of hardwood species that are naturally growing in these forests.
With forests that are filled with Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Red Alder (Alnus rubra), Myrtlewood (Umbellularia californica), Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana), and Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum), it’s a wonder anyone would specify or build with a hardwood that was grown elsewhere.
However, hunting for hardwoods in the Pacific Northwest, which is dominated by conifers, is a challenge. Hardwood trees in our forests are unfortunately cut and left to rot, burned in a slash pile, or chipped for paper mills. Very few ever get to display their beautiful grain pattern and natural wood tone.
With this in mind I drove to Oakland, in southern Oregon's Umpqua Valley, to get a first-hand look at one of our sources of these great wood products, Oregon Hardwood Company. John Rideout of Oregon Hardwood Company was kind enough to take me for a tour of their facility.
We met in the sorting facility and perused some beautiful Walnut lumber that had been salvaged from an agricultural use. Early settlers brought Walnut to Oregon, so it’s not a native species, but the milk chocolate swirling grain pattern stands out amongst other native species.
John walked me from building to building explaining the complexities of milling and drying Pacific Madrone, Oregon White and Big Leaf Maple. Much of the lumber units we inspected were destined for our warehouse in SE Portland.
John filled my head with so much knowledge that the next day I had lots of questions for Rod Jacobs of Unique Woods in Elmira, near Eugene. Unique Woods provides us with FSC Big Leaf Maple slabs from an FSC forestland near Rainier, Oregon, and other hardwoods that have been rescued from a chip facility.
Rod explains the dilemma for most loggers in western Oregon well. He told me that none of the larger mills that do the majority of purchasing will buy native hardwood logs, so those logs usually end up in the massive log decks of a chip facility near his house, where they are destined to become paper.
After touring Rod’s kiln drying operation we drove to the chip facility to scrounge for some choice Madrone, Oregon White Oak and Big Leaf Maple logs. On a cold winter morning we made our way through the log decks spray painting those logs that met his specification. He showed us how to tell if there was going to be spalting and burling in the log. We were basically dumpster diving for logs that would make a beautiful desk or dining room table, saving the most incredible hardwood logs from becoming paper.
Once Rod was satisfied that our hunt was successful I thanked him for the species and product knowledge that he provided me. The next customer that asks me where our hardwoods come from I will be able to share that knowledge and connect them to a place in our region where the wood originates. You can’t say the same for other surface materials like stone or hardwoods from another region.
In celebration of buidling of what might be the greenest ship ever attempted, the Educational Tall Ship Program and Sustainable Northwest hosted a day in San Francisco Bay aboard their current floating classroom.
As the 4-masted boat exited Richardson Bay, a brisk wind blew under the Golden Gate Bridge keeling the boat over. Its cargo of green architects, Bay Area philanthropists, and leading sustainability thinkers grabbed on to whatever they could. While rounding Alcatraz island passengers learned about the good work of ETS to provide environmental education to Bay Area youth. Being a team that walks its talk, they have purchased Sustainable Northwest Wood's Oregon White Oak for their new boat, which is aspiring to meet the Living Building Challenge.
Safely back in harbor we bid our shipmates farewell, but hope that we will hear from them again soon.
Autumn always reminds us of the generosity of our region's agricultural lands through the bounty of our crops and the promise of nourishment through the winter.
The forests surrounding our cities are no different: They generously provide the wood for building our shelters and keeping us warm and protected through the colder seasons.
This is why we are pleased to introduce new Oregon Hardwood Butcher Block counter tops made from sustainably harvested local hardwoods!
By sourcing our wood from salvage sources and respectful, small-scale harvesting, we are paying our respects to the forests that sustain life for so many species, humans included.
Now available in:
- Madrone (Salvaged, Central Point)
- FSC Big Leaf Maple (Hyla Woods, Gaston)
- Oregon White Oak (Zena Forest, Rickreall)
- FSC Doug Fir (Zigzag Doug Fir, Zigzag)
Our Oregon Hardwood Butcher Blocks are:
- In stock and ready for installation
- Kiln-dried, solid hardwood
- Made from FDA-approved adhesives
- 1 1/2" x 26 1/2", ready to be trimmed to fit your space
- Lengths up to 10'
- Custom dimensions available
Photos, from top: Oregon White Oak butcher block features a unique grain pattern reminiscent of wine country; a Madrone butcher block counter top provides a perfect warm dining surface at a restaurant in Portland.
When the team at Educational Tall Ship set out to build the world's most sustainable ship, they knew they'd need a boatload of wood. And because of their mission and the purpose of the ship, it had to come from sources that would earn their approval, meeting all three criteria of the triple bottom line.
A call to Sustainable Northwest Wood was the natural next step.
We partnered with Edaucational Tall Ship to provide locally grown Oregon White Oak, which is being used throughout the ship for planking butt blocks, rails, rigging parts, hatches, interior doors and furniture, the rudder, and other places that need a durable hardwood.
Oregon White Oak is an indigenous species that spreads its roots from Northern California through Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia. Unfortunately, it is not a high-value species in the eyes of most landowners, and the vast majority of the oak population has been destroyed since settlement of the area, replaced first with pasture and more recently with Douglas Fir plantations. Only 5% of the original oak population remains in Oregon.
Today's crop du jour, grapes, is the latest land use trend to pose a threat to Oregon White Oak's survival as ever more forest is cleared to make way for agriculture (photo at right).
Sustainable Northwest Wood is working to build a market and commercial value for Oregon White Oak, which will encourage landowners to preserve their existing oak stands and, hopefully, replant this magificent species when Douglas fir plantations are cut. Oak habitat is critical for many species in the Willamette Valley, including Fender's blue butterfly (photo at left), Kincaid's lupine, and the Willamette daisy, each of which are listed as endangered.
Much of the oak used in the Educational Tall Ship was sourced from Zena Forest Products in Rickreall, an FSC certified, family owned forest and mill that cultivates oak to ensure its survival and success on their lands. Some of the oak was also salvaged from chip yards, where most oak ends up once it has been cleared from land that is transitioning into other uses because it is commonly and mistakenly perceived to have no value.
Photo at right: Educational Tall Ship's executive director, Alan Olson, meets with Ben and Sarah Deumling, the owners and managers of Zena Forest, to see first-hand where the oak was sourced.
We are proud to see our local oak going into exciting projects like the Educational Tall Ship, where this most valuable resource will provide many decades of beauty and performance.
The Educational Tall Ship is a groundbreaking project that will be the first wooden ship of this size built in San Francisco in nearly 100 years. She will be 100 feet long on deck and have a 25 foot beam. In addition to careful sourcing of materials, the ship is also being built with an eye toward energy efficiency: She will meet her own energy needs through regenerative power technologies.
Instead of diesel engines, the ship is propelled by DC electric motors directly connected to the propeller shafts and drawing energy from large battery banks. When the ship is sailing, the propellers will rotate by the energy of the passing water causing the electric motors to become generators. Significant electrical energy is created as sailing speeds increase. Energy self-sufficiency can be achieved by producing and storing enough energy from just four to six hours of sailing.
The design team's goal is to combine appropriate technologies from the 19th and 21st centuries - skipping over the petroleum era - and craft a ship that will be unique teaching tool to inspire appreciation for past designs, innovative solutions and address the long-range consequences of dated technologies to build a world with a more sustainable future.
Click here to learn more about this innovative project.
To celebrate this promising partnership, Sustainable Northwest Wood and Educational Tall Ship are co-hosting a sailing trip on an existing ship. This adventure is for Bay area green building professionals who wish to learn more about sustainable wood procurement. Join us for an evening voyage along the waterfront and around the beautiful sites of San Francisco Bay.
Saturday, September 21, 2012 from 5pm to 8pm
RSVP by September 7th.
Click here for more information.
We love to see our local hardwoods turned into beautiful, functional fine furniture, and few do it better than our friend Jonathan Nussbaum.
Jonathan works with many species of wood to create classic fine furniture that highlights the beauty and individual characteristics of each piece of wood. A dedicated participant in the Build Local Alliance, Jonathan is fully committed to using local, responsibly harvested wood and helping to influence others to make the same good choice.
Be sure to check out Jonathan's website at www.nussbaumfurniture.com.
From top: Jonathan at work on a set of Oregon White Oak dining stools in his Portland studio; a Big Leaf Maple kitchen that traveled a total of 60 miles from forest to installation; a walnut and spalted maple media console.
When it's time to start thinking about new flooring for your home renovation projects, Sustainable Northwest Wood has the solution for you. Our solid wood flooring is made from locally-grown trees that are harvested sustainably. Because we work directly with the lumber mills, these options are also affordable and promise decades of beauty and durability.
Here's what we keep in stock at our warehouse in Southeast Portland:
Oregon White Oak - Oregon White Oak is the Pacific Northwest's only native species of oak tree. This super-durable flooring comes from trees harvested in the Willamette and Umpqua Valleys and is either FSC certified or comes from members of the Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities partnership. We love it with mixed face widths of 3", 5", and 7", but custom sizes are available, too.
Cascade Farmhouse Maple - Western Big Leaf Maple is ideally suited for flooring and offers warm gold tones and years of durability. Our Cascade Farmhouse maple flooring is FSC certified and comes with a 5" face. It is milled from trees that are harvested just south of the Puget Sound in Washington.
Zigzag Doug Fir - Our Zigzag Doug fir is perfect for matching the historic fir flooring in the Northwest's old homes. This FSC Pure flooring is milled from trees that are super-selectively cut at the Homestead Girl Scout Camp on Mount Hood's western slope, just 40 miles east of Portland. It offers a 3 1/4" face width and is Clear Vertical Grain.
Antique Doug Fir - This FSC Pure flooring comes from Forest Grove, where it was selectively cut as part of a watershed restoration program. It has a flat grain and is perfect for farmhouse, rustic, and other styles where a less formal, more authentic look is desired. It comes with a 5 1/4" face. Expect a few knots and lots of Doug Fir personality with this choice!
All of our flooring is kiln-dried, with an end-matched tongue-and-groove profile for a traditional nail-down installation, and comes bundled with lengths up to 12'. We recommend a natural oil finish for our hardwood floors, which allows the homeowner to easily maintain the floor without needing to move out and hire a professional to refinish it a few years down the road.
Please call or email us for pricing and current stock.
Bo over at MADE Studio sent us some breathtaking photos of projects he recently completed that use our Oregon White Oak, sourced locally from the Willamette Valley. We love this ultra-contemporary European style kitchen island and the reception desk at Boora Architects' recently renovated offices.
Check out these photos:
And, of course, check out all of MADE's beautiful work at www.made-studio.com.
Earlier this year, Ryan pioneered a new product made of our locally-sourced Oregon White Oak: Architectural-grade panels that are easy to work with and ideally suited for furniture and cabinetry. To accomplish this, we partnered with Idaho Veneer, which slices our logs 1/40th of an inch thick -- a nearly paper-thin sheet of wood that exposes its exquisite grain pattern.
The wood is then pressed onto either FSC-certified, no added urea formaldehyde MDF cores for the 1/4" thick finished panels and plywood for the 3/4" finished panels. The veneer process allows the grain pattern to be book-matched, which results in a near perfect symmetry on the finished product.
Cellar Ridge Custom Homes, based in McMinnville, recently used our Oregon White Oak panels in an Earth Advantage Platinum home in Northeast Portland. Here, the Oregon White Oak adds an organic note, breaking up the clean angles of the very modern space. We love the natural look of the oak on the ultra-mod cabinetry. Check out the photos of the Oregon White Oak in the kitchen, and be sure to stop by this house during the Build It Green! tour this September.
Photos credit Sally Painter.