Sustainable Wood: Where is the Wood We Want?

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Wiser-Living/sustainable-wood-where-is-the-wood-we-want.aspx

The people who are helping us build our home are extraordinary. In addition to being very skilled in their specific roles, they support the spirit of our project, ask questions about other aspects of the construction and offer suggestions and resources to help us respond to the challenges we are encountering.

One of those challenges has been finding wood products that are acceptable to us. We wanted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified framing lumber. However, as I reported previously, we were not able to find a distributor of FSC-certified framing wood within 500 miles of our site. We decided we would be countering some of the benefits of FSC wood by hauling it from more than 1,500 miles away, so we chose Southern Forest Initiative-certified wood for the framing lumber of our home. 

barn wood boards
These barn wood boards will be part of our new kitchen cabinets. Photo Courtesy Rebecca Selove.

We recently learned of a source within 500 miles for FSC-certified baseboards and window and door trim, but it will be eight weeks before those products are available to us, and we are in the final six weeks of our construction schedule. So, we are continuing our search for reclaimed and reused wood, which we have learned comes with its own challenges. For example, some old wood has to be dehumidifed before it can be milled and then treated for insect larvae before it is safe to take inside a home.

poplar paneling in mudroom
We'll buff the poplar paneling in the mud room soon. Photo Courtesy Rebecca Selove.

We have been very lucky to have Lanny Gunter working with us on our kitchen cabinets. His wife and daughter have also invested their time and hearts in our project. Wood has been a passion of Lanny’s since he was a young boy, and he enjoys finding ways to solve wood-related problems that require creative solutions. He’ll make our kitchen cabinets out of oak that came from a barn built more than 60 years ago, with nail holes and some signs of insect habitation as part of the wood’s charm. He and I looked at a number of pieces of this old wood so he could get a feel for my preferred range of nail hole sizes. I’ve welcomed his suggestion for a modernized Shaker-style cabinet door, with finely crafted drawers that can be pulled all the way out. He found a place for narrow shelving for bottles of spices inside a door, where for the first time in my life I will be able to see all the small containers at once.  

When I talked to Lanny about our search for baseboard and trim, he said his son might be willing to mill reclaimed wood for these other purposes. I imagine Lanny persuading his son to participate in this collaborative demonstration of sustainable construction in middle Tennessee, and I feel grateful.