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View rbterhune's profile

Exotic Woods

by rbterhune
posted 1507 days ago


25 replies so far

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1658 days


#1 posted 1507 days ago

I work with exotic woods quite a lot and I try to be sensitive to concerns about the environment and the depletion of the rain forest. I have stopped buying zebra wood because it is an endangered species. I buy blue mahoe from an environmental organization that is selectively harvesting trees in an environmentally favorable fashion.

The challenge is getting good information on what is good and what is bad with respect to the environmental ramifications of harvesting certain woods.

With respect to domestic woods with rich color – - I like walnut, mahogany and cherry (in the order). I hate using dyes and I dislike using stains. I want to see the natural beauty of the wood.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View interpim's profile

interpim

1123 posts in 2042 days


#2 posted 1507 days ago

in any business, if the value is high, there will be illegal production of that product. Who is to say that the wood that you are sure is harvested selectively or from deadfall is actually that? We as human beings are fairly trusting, especially when we have no way of verifying for ourselves the truth. I’m not knocking exotics or their harvest methods. I personally can’t afford many exotics other than pen blank sizes, so typically stick to the domestics. My favorite by far is Walnut, and Cherry would be a close second.

Most of my projects lately have come off my lathe, so lately my favorite wood to use is firewood LOL. I can get enough wood for a dozen small bowls in a campfire packet of wood sold for $5 – $7 at the farmer’s market.

-- San Diego, CA

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1307 posts in 1569 days


#3 posted 1507 days ago

I would simply like to point out that just because the wood is domestic, doesn’t mean it was harvested in the best means, either.

I will use any wood I can get – and try to stick to sources that stay environmentally friendly. My main source for wood is a sawmill that rescues fallen, damaged and weather-stricken trees.

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View uffitze's profile

uffitze

199 posts in 1538 days


#4 posted 1507 days ago

You can get responsibly harvested exotics, and like Lis says, not all domestic wood is sustainably harvested. Unfortunately, even if you ask questions at the lumberyard, they may not be able to give you a good answer.

Around here, there are several small sawyers who seem to acquire logs a few at a time which at least gives the appearance of either thinning or using yard trees that would be coming out anyway. The added bonus for me is that these suppliers are generally cheaper than the big suppliers.

PS. If you are so inclined, and have $10,000 floating around, you can invest in a tree farm in Central America. You are basically buying x number of trees of one of the species that they farm. Provided, lumber prices stay where they are at, your $10k turns into something like $100k. (I can’t remember the specifics.) You are probably not going to end up using that wood, but the way I look at it is that you can use exotics and not feel too bad about it because you are replacing the wood that you are using.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1464 posts in 2708 days


#5 posted 1507 days ago

The last exotic wood I bought was from the scrap bin at Luthier’s Mercantile, and the lady there who was giving the presentation for the meeting I was at talked for a bit about their efforts to conform to the Lacey Act. Without additional information about the ecological hazards of exotic hardwoods, that’s a vendor I feel comfortable buying wood from.

The rest of my stash of exotics come from the scrap bin at a high end deck place (Ipe, Massaranduba) and reclaimed lumber (a bunch of Peruvian mahogany reclaimed from box beams). So at the very least I think I’m not a primary motivator for illegal logging, at the prices I’ve paid for it I’m pretty sure they’re not making much of a profit. However, I do think a bit about where I’m getting my wood, and what my impact in purchasing those woods is, just as I try to pay attention to that with my food.

For domestic rich color, I’m all over cherry, when I can afford it. Most of my stuff is either light (I get a great deal on eastern hard maple that a local manufacturer considers “scrap”), or, at least right now, is coming from my aforementioned cache.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#6 posted 1507 days ago

tyskkvinna and uffitz…You make a good point…not all domestic woods are sustainably harvested either. Some of the larger companies then insult the public, in my opinion, by planting a pine tree forest after they’ve cleared all the hardwood. They say it’s replacing a tree with a tree…true, but far from the same.

interpim…You are also right. It’s not easy to confirm if your supplier is telling you the truth or not about their source. I guess this is where relationship building becomes important.

I suppose I’ll need to do a little digging in my area to learn what’s out there. (Nashville, TN)

View uffitze's profile

uffitze

199 posts in 1538 days


#7 posted 1507 days ago

It’s nice to see a self proclaimed non tree hugger complaining about replanting with a mono crop.

Maybe the world is changing.

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#8 posted 1507 days ago

uffitze…not sure I understand your last post. Tree huggers are preservationists, I am a conservationist. Sure, let’s cut some trees, but if you cut a cherry, plant a cherry. The turnaround is longer, but the payoff is that we all get to use these woods in the future.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2477 days


#9 posted 1507 days ago

I’m no tree hugger but I do try and avoid buying exotics but when it comes to a choice of feeding my family or buying an exotic log…..........family wins.

I dont believe that exotics from asia, africa and much of central and south america are being logged sustainably. My guess is that its hack and burn. I would prefer a substantial tax leveied on the exotics where the tax is spent conserving tropical and sub tropical forests and helping educate the people where those forests are located.

2 cents

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile

NewPickeringWdWrkr

338 posts in 1596 days


#10 posted 1507 days ago

Interesting conversation for sure. I have only bought 1 plank of purpleheart to date – But that’s mainly because I have had no demand for it right now. I’m builing mostly projects that will be gifts or used here at home. Because I am not recouping my costs, I’m sticking to domestics from a local sawmill. I also try to surf around on CL when I need to as there is generally a lot of wood available that way. I figure that if I’m not buying from a commercial supplier, I’m not adding to the demand.

If I were to start selling to customers that want exotics, they would have to pay the premium that they demand and then I would consider looking for environmentally responsible suppliers.

My domestic choices are walnut, cherry and maple for colour variation.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs http://anterosurbanwooddesigns.com

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#11 posted 1507 days ago

Moron…that is my hunch as well…that none of the countries you mentioned are logging responsibly. I’m sure there are a few individuals or groups in a few small areas doing the right thing, but on the whole, I’m not so sure. By the way…love your Murphy bed project. The color of the walnut is perfect…not too dark.

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#12 posted 1507 days ago

NewPickeringWdWrkr…I like that idea. Buy from someone who wants to dump their supply and in theory you’re not adding to demand.

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 2533 days


#13 posted 1507 days ago

I love using the exotics, but I only try to use it when I get it from Dumpster Diving (Note: I am a trained professional, do not try this at home.) or find a shop that is planning on scraping it in the future and get them to set aside their cut-offs or scraps from the run. It is amazing what you can get with a box of donuts!

I also get a lot of my exotics from pallets.

As for domestics, I love walnut and curly maple.

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 2533 days


#14 posted 1507 days ago

A little something for those of you who are concerned where their materials come from or how it is harvested:

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only independent, not-for-profit membership organization that promotes good forest stewardship by certifying the practices of those who harvest timber.

The FSC bases its standards on international principles of sound forest management, which are adapted at the regional level by local environmental and conservation groups, community and economic development organizations, the timber industry, and the general public.

All wood products from FSC-certified sources bear the mark of the FSC. It’s your assurance that the wood you’re using came from well-managed forests using practices to ensure long-term availability.

fsc logo To achieve FSC certification, a forestry operation must:

  • protect forest ecosystems
  • protect water quality
  • protect wildlife habitats & biological diversity
  • respect the rights of indigenous peoples
  • maintain the economic and social well-being of local communities
  • conserve the forest’s economic resources
  • engage in regular monitoring
  • manage plantations to alleviate pressures on natural forests

To find out more about the FSC, visit their website at www.fsc.org.

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#15 posted 1506 days ago

Dustin…great info. I had not heard about FSC. Have you found many suppliers with the FSC certification in your area?

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1464 posts in 2708 days


#16 posted 1506 days ago

Moron, if it’s a choice between wood and food… uh… that’s a tough one.

But beyond the FSC, talk to your hardwood supplier about what they’re doing to comply with the Lacey Act. If they’re a direct importer, you’ll probably get a 15 minute rant, but you’ll learn a lot about forestry and sustainability and what happens when you don’t comply. Search, for instance, on “Gibson Lacey Act” to see some of the travails that Gibson Guitars went through over importing Madagascar rosewood through Germany.

Not saying it solves all the problems, but the new interpretations and enforcement of the act mean that the hardwood importers I’ve talked to now feel it necessary to develop a very personal relationship with the folks who are doing the logging, just to cover their butts and feel like they’ve got not just a paper trail, but actual knowledge of where their logs are coming from, and a trusting relationship with their suppliers, to point to when the Fish & Wildlife Service comes knocking.

And I’ve actually only run into the FSC on construction lumber, interestingly.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#17 posted 1506 days ago

I did the search as was suggested…This Lacey Act looks like it may also do some good work too…at least in the U.S.

View uffitze's profile

uffitze

199 posts in 1538 days


#18 posted 1506 days ago

Mono crops tend to reduce biodiversity. So, if you log a forest that has multiple species in it and replace with a single species such as pine (or doug fir here in the NW), you at the very least stress the animal population in the forest, and probably drive some species out. So, you end up with a forest that has fewer plant and animal species and is more vulnerable to natural (and not so natural) disasters.

That’s what I meant by my post.

And, yes, unless you know and trust you sawyer, FSC certified wood is the only way that I know of to ensure that you get responsibly harvested lumber.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2477 days


#19 posted 1506 days ago

I call myself a positive sceptic with pessimistic attributes.

I realize that there are many places that sell wood that is harvested from forests in sustainable ways but most of them are harvested in first world nations where very little in the way of “exotic woods” grow. I also know that in many thrid world nations and or newly developed nations, that corruption is as common as the mosquito. One looks no further then Blue fin Tuna and ALL the ways there are around whats harvestable or not.

I wont mention names but I do know of a native reserve that holds several 10s of thousands of acres of prime timber right here in Ontario. because they are native they dont pay taxes, the dont pay stump levies and they sure as shit arent re-planting and they are clear cutting their land just as fast as they possibly can. The timber/log trucks never stop rolling down the highway with huge trunks of maple, cherry, beech, birch, oaks and there biggest customer is a member of the said FSC. Thats in my own back yard and if that can happen here then what can happen in a country where Bubinga grows?

I am all for FSC and promote it where I can and am also a big supporter of the nature Conserveacy (spelling) but where there is a profitto be made, rules and regulations will be broken…...but at least its a start.

Do what you like but I will remain a skeptic and do as much as I can to avoid buying exotics so that when I die, I can close my eyes with a clean conscience in hope that I have left this world a better place then when I found it.

nuff said.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#20 posted 1506 days ago

uffitze…that’s right. I was confused about the world is changing part. I suppose that you meant “finally someone is speaking up”

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 2533 days


#21 posted 1506 days ago

You will see a lot of FSC at the industrial level. Especially with exotic veneers.

View uffitze's profile

uffitze

199 posts in 1538 days


#22 posted 1506 days ago

Oh sorry, yeah, the world is changing in that more and more of us, and even folks who don’t consider themselves environmentalists are thinking about where their raw materials come from. Back in the day, most of us didn’t even think about it … we just thought “ooh, pretty wood”.

Now, the world will really be changed when the big industrial manufacturers start to think about more than the bottom line.

It’s interesting … just last night I was reading an article (NY Times I think) about rosewood being illegally logged in Madagascar, and the wood being sent to China.

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#23 posted 1506 days ago

uffitze…the big industrial manufacturers need to be on board or there will be no incentive for anyone to do the right thing.

With regard to everyones domestic choices…they are similar to mine. I think cherry seems to be No. 1 on the list.

Thanks to everyone for the discussion.

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1656 posts in 1692 days


#24 posted 1506 days ago

Uffitze, are they adding melamine to the rosewood over there in China? j/k. It may be that the Chinese have serious cash flow and are indulging their tastes. I know that rosewood is one of my absolute favorite woods. Seriously, I think about what wood I buy, and it’s kind of painful, looking at all that beauty (and expense!) and having to walk away. I have some walnut that I rescued from the crusher (105 linear feet of 1”X4”s in 5’ lengths). Guess I’ll use that to the end.

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

171 posts in 1805 days


#25 posted 1506 days ago

Does anyone have any idea about the source of exotic woods from Rockler or Woodcraft?

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