Archive for January, 2013

A Deck Made from Jatoba, Why?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Fads have a way of repeating themselves. Back in the 50’s, every kid of the male persuasion wanted to get what was called a Mohican haircut. Wanted is the operative word. Most parents wouldn’t entertain such mutilation to their 5-year old. Then in the ‘70’s, the style returned.

Nowadays, it’s pretty mainstream. America is finally growing-up an inch at a time, becoming a touch more tolerant.

In the decking biz, there’s another fad that is in its infancy. It’s called composite decking material. Not a bad product and it still needs to go through the test of time before it cracks the egg-shell of being a trend.

But we have a modest proposal. Before you make a decision, let’s see if we can sway you away from that racing stripe on the top of your head and into something that’s going to last a long time. Something that’s not going to cramp your schedule with too much maintenance.

Step Up to the Jatoba Tent

Most composites are constructed with a modicum of a fossil fuel – oil. With Jatoba, you’re looking at a lifespan of at least a half-century. Unlike composites, it will actually do what nature intended. It will breakdown. When the Coneheads come here from the Planet Remulak, they’re going to have a lot of composites to jettison into space. Jatoba? No big woop.

If you’ve ever listened to the lyrics of the John Mellencamp tune, sing along with us now:

Oh but ain’t that America for you and me

Ain’t that America somethin’ to see baby

Ain’t that America home of the free

Little pink houses for you and me

With Jatoba, each plank is unique. Composites? You’re looking at repeating simulated grain. Your own “little pink houses.”

Specifically Speaking

When you get a shipment of Jatoba, the color will be somewhat medium brown. It could use sun block, because the rays from above will transform it into a red russet hue. Then after sitting in the sun for a few months, it begins to take on a silver-gray tint. You want to keep the red look? Mop on some UV finisher every-so-often. Your lumber expert will give you a good schedule to follow. And, let’s get this clear: You will never need a sealer. Jatoba, as you’ll see in the chart below, is some pretty sturdy stuff:

Final Advantage

It’s hard. It’s bug resistant. It’s not going to rot. It doesn’t drink a lot of water. It’s low maintenance. Other than deciding to let your kid get a Mohawk, choosing Jatoba is a no brainer. One suggestion, if your kid is a little girl, getting that kind of style of coiffure might be setting the wrong signal to her Brownie troop.

Picking the Best Wood for Your New Deck

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

It may seem like the dead of winter, but now is exactly the right time to start planning on slapping together a backyard deck. The closer we get to summer, the busier the pros become. Unless you are looking far ahead to 2014, time to get on the stick.

Are you totally comfortable with what you are doing or know a bunch of friends who’ve erected a deck many times before? If not, the extra money to hire an insured and bonded expert is well worth the additional green. We’ve heard of folks that tried DIYing only to end-up paying just as much to repair the foul-ups they built into the unit.

Wood Choices

Our druthers always swing in the direction of ipe. It is one tough lumber. Resistant to water and bugs, Brazilian walnut can take the blows and still come-out swinging. Big plus: Practically no maintenance.

You’ve heard us talk about the Janka Hardness Test before, right? If you haven’t, here’s a quick refresher.

The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of wood and how it withstands denting and wear. It’s a way to see how much force is required to embed an 11.28 mm (0.444 in) steel ball into wood up to half the ball’s diameter.

Take a look at this chart to see what we’re getting at:

Notice what wood is at the bottom of the list – which should make it at the top of yours?

What Should I Pick?

We’re beginning to see the “Invasion of the Composites.” These are materials that are very strong, but wood they ain’t. If you’re one of those people shooting for a high-end deck, perish the thought.

Some of the other timber we like are tigerwood and jatoba. While they’re half as strong as ipe wood, they aren’t going to crumble underfoot anytime soon.

However, nowadays, you’re more likely to find Jatoba or Brazilian Cherry inside the house for wooden flooring. That’s why we keep going back to ipe as the ideal stuff for your outdoor living space.

Finally, ipe has been known to thrive for more than a century. While you may not be around to enjoy its strength, what better gift to leave to your great-great grandkids.

A Final Reminder

Focusing on decking, Ipe is the one that most builders would employ because it lasts virtually forever. Even with the winds from Hurricane Sandy destroying a swatch of the Atlantic City boardwalk, you can bet that the part which used ipe is most likely still hammered in place. If it’s not, don’t blame the wood. Point the finger at the fasteners.

Cumaru is an alternative to ipe. Perhaps the biggest reason people have adopted Brazilian teak (aka cumaru) is because of the cost of the raw material. Generally speaking it’s about a buck-or-two cheaper per square foot than is ipe. However, the largest charge you’ll ever shell-out for the deck is the labor. Wood only accounts for about 25% of the total outlay.

Unbeatable – Ipe

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

We always talk about ipe (EE-pay) as being one of the hardest woods known to humanity. While it’s pretty tough stuff there are actually two others that have it beat. The first one is so obvious, it’s almost funny.

It comes from the petrified forest.

Sure, it’s been dead for thousands-upon-thousands of years, but it’s wood. If it were legal to use as a construction material, it would probably laugh in the face of a tornado or a sun-hot burst of fire.

But you want to know the hardest wood that still lives. Travel Down Under. It’s called bull-oak. Fancy latin name: Allocasuarina luehmannii. It’s a species of ironwood that’s native to Australia. It’s endangered, that’s why using it is a no-no.

We talk about the Janka Hardness Scale a lot. The bull-oak weighs-in at 5060.

Earth-Friendly Ipe

You want something that’s not going to screw-up the planet, then you want a hardwood that’s pretty durable. Ipe is harvested from plantations mostly in Brazil, the Lesser Antilles and Central and South America. And Janka-wise, well above 3600 isn’t chopped liver.

To give you some comparisons, look at this chart. You’ll get an idea of some of the more popular lumber and where it ranks on the hardness scale:

Notice that ipe or Brazilian walnut is second from the top.

What it’s used for?

Probably the widest use for ipe is in the construction of decks. Its quality for low maintenance, bug and water resistance as well as resilience to rot makes it the top choice for outdoor use. But ipe wood can also be found in the making of furniture, paneling, veneers and virtually anything you need to stand-up to the elements.

That’s why you’ll also catch Brazilian walnut used for a diverse universe of applications:

  • Fishing rods
  • Trellises
  • Billiard cues
  • Fences
  • Railroad crossties
  • Tool handles
  • Bridges
  • Exterior construction
  • Heavy construction
  • Archery bows
  • Benches
  • Walking sticks
  • Boardwalks
  • Turnery
  • Industrial flooring

Treat Her Right

You will not have to worry about using illegally cut ipe. But to be sure, here’s something we mentioned a while back. It bears repeating:

To maintain a “green” product inventory, responsible mills are ever-vigilant to see to it that their suppliers follow vital protocols. Vendors whose products have been certified through a third party. “Green” wood has one or more of these certifications:

  • The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • The Composite Panel Association’s Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP)
  • The Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC)
  • ISO 14001 for environmental management

The top certification we mentioned, from the FSC, says that the supply chain for these hardwoods must follow strict standards. These rules tell the consumer that the products have met stern ecological, social and economic standards.

By the way, 12 of the top twenty hardwoods come from Australia.

Installing Flooring – Jatoba Hardwood

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Anytime you decide to do something on your own plan to spend some time getting acquainted with the project. Rent a movie you’d think it would like. Cook it a favorite dish. Maybe take it on a Sunday drive.

With Jatoba flooring this might be difficult. But the least you can do is let it sit around your house for about a week. Let it get used to the place where it will be spending the remainder of its life. It’s not only courteous, it’s also necessary to let Brazilian cherry jatoba wood acclimate to the indoor environment.

Not Hard But Not a Snap

This is one of those projects that you can’t work around all the items sitting on the floor. You could, but you’re just being stubborn. That’s why you want to take all the furniture, the floor trim and the baseboards out to another area of the house.

You may find that there are nail heads that are projecting out of the surface of the floor. You’re going to want to countersink them. Once done, take the rosin paper and back up to one end to the wall. You’ll want to go in the direction at a 90-degree angle to the floor joists. Staple it as you go along. Let the paper overlap 3-or-4 inches. And make sure you pencil-in where the floor joists are as you go along.

Here’s where you need to be totally exact: To ensure that the first row of jatoba is straight, you’re going to need to use a chalk line. Measure twice to be completely sure that it’s as perfect as you can get it. Begin by laying the first row, keeping the edge ½-inch from the wall. Note: the wood should be bottom-side up. Keep going row-after-row. Be forewarned, this is merely a practice run.

Making it Stick

Go back to the first plank and begin slathering on the glue. Do this to that one anchor board. Give it a chance to dry. Turning every board over, schlep them into place. Remember, lay them in such a way that you stagger the edges.

Take out your drill and grind holes where the baseboards and trim will conceal the head of the nail. Use 1½-inch finishing nails. At the tongue of the main floorboard, drill holes at a 45-degree angle, hammer ‘em in place and countersink the heads.

Puzzle all the planks together. When you get to the last row, you’ll want to likewise keep the edge ½-inch from the wall. Unless you’re really lucky, you’ll end up measuring and cutting the wood before you put the final piece in place. If you don’t have to do this, stop the project immediately, rush out to the gas station and buy a lottery ticket before you continue.

Let’s assume that the jatoba is prefinished. That being the case, you’re done.

Unfinished? Scrutinize the floor, taking inventory of any nail heads that need to be countersunk. Get a broom and sweep-up anything that’s cluttering the surface.

You’re going to need to rent a drum sander with 120-grit sandpaper. Be careful not to stop once the machine gets rolling or you’ll end up with your own private Crater Lake. Wear a respirator and goggles. If there are any places the device misses, use some elbow grease and DIY. Suck the dust into the vacuum. Change the grit to 180. Repeat. Finally, crank the sandpaper to 220-grit.

Once again, get rid of all the sawdust, first with a vac, then with a tact cloth. It will need to sparkle before you apply whatever finish you’ve chosen.

Once completely dried, move all the stuff back into the room. Check the lottery ticket. You may already be a winner.

Guest Post: Simple Touches to Spruce up Your Deck Area for Spring

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As the weather gets warm outside, you may be itching to entertain on your outdoor deck. Beyond basic spring cleaning, this is the perfect season to redecorate your deck for warmer weather with a few simple upgrades that won’t take longer than a weekend afternoon.

Paint Your Deck

The best way to give your deck an instant facelift is with a brand new coat of paint. If you don’t have the time or energy to paint your deck yourself, consider contacting a professional painting company to get the job done.

When choosing a paint color for your deck, make sure to check out swatches in natural light. This will give you a more accurate view of how a paint color will appear when used on your deck in broad daylight. Popular deck color combinations include tan and cream in different intensities that can add depth, as well as a rustic touch, to a ho-hum wooden deck.

Get New Furniture

It may be time to trade in your old, weathered deck furniture for some new, updated pieces. When purchasing new furniture for your deck, take care to decorate strategically. All you need are a few attention-getting pieces that will also make guests comfortable when entertaining.

For a small deck, consider light wooden benches that can be padded with decorative pillows and painted in a complementary color to match your deck. On a larger deck, guests will appreciate couches, loveseats, and armchairs made of indoor/outdoor fabric to offer a comfy place to sit and sip on a drink. If you plan on dining on your deck, make sure you have ample seating space available in a 4 to 8 person table that can accommodate dinner for you and a few friends.

Don’t Forget Shade

It’ll be difficult to use your deck on a sunny afternoon if there isn’t a shady spot to enjoy a snack or drink. If your deck isn’t covered, consider purchasing a table with a large umbrella that will provide some type of shelter for a warm spring afternoon.

Another clever way to shade your deck that does require a time investment is planting trees around the base of your patio. As the trees grow larger over the years, you’ll have a natural shade covering that will create a peaceful element of relaxation on your secluded deck.

While it can take some strategic planning to decorate the deck of your dreams in time for spring, using the tips above will get the ball rolling. Instead of entertaining guests on a cookie-cutter patio with little design inspiration, you can try your hand at decorating to make your deck your own.

When it comes to deck decoration, there are no set rules to live by. You can decorate in a basic color scheme or mix and match prints and patterns for a funky vintage vibe that screams “backyard party.” After that, all you need are a few cold drinks, and you’re ready to kick back, relax, and enjoy the great outdoors!

Guest Post Provided By: Prestige Painting

Wood Movement Issues

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Think that once you finish your wood project, that’s it. You brush your hands together, stand back a few yards and your eyes begin drooling at the site of a handsomely created, exotic wood structure. As it ages, the value shoots through the roof. It grows into something more than simply practical. It evolved in beauty.

But just because legs on a chair are not meant to walk, wood moves. Some lumber likes to shift around more than others. So, if you’ve left this addendum to your Last Will and Testament,“ that reads, “This (fill in the name of the object) shall remain in the family until October 14th, 2155. At that point, it will be given to my favorite museum.”

That’s all fine-and-good. However, if the objet d’art has twisted and wiggled into some grotesque, child-scaring thing in 140-odd years, the museum will probably pass on the gift.

Hardwoods and Softwoods

We already have a handle on these two types. What differentiates the pair is where they stand on the Janka Hardness Scale (JHS). The higher the number, the harder (or softer) the timber. For instance, Quipo from South America rolls a 22 on the JHS. Then there’s Buloke Australian from down under. Its JHS is a whopping 5060.

What makes one a softie and the other so dense? Hardwoods have pores to move water around beneath the bark. Softwoods shift the H2O using fibrous-like cells.

Why should you care? It’s simple. If the lumber can suck-in moisture after it’s been felled, it’s going to expand. Technically this is called movement in service.

The shifting happens across the grain. And don’t think that by finishing the wood going you’re arresting the movement. It merely shifts it into 1st gear, but it still expands.

The Guide

It’s not a full list, but it will give you a start. We’ll begin with the lumber that’s going to move the most and work our way down to the stuff that’s pretty stable:

You’ll see the most shifting in these woods:

  • Beli
  • Yellow Birch
  • Ekki
  • Esia
  • American Red Gum
  • Holly
  • European Hornbeam
  • Pink Ivory
  • Karri
  • Keruing
  • East African Olive
  • Ramin
  • Rata
  • Stinkwood

Now for the guys that will fall into the average wood movement class:

  • Akossika
  • Andiroba
  • Bayo
  • Beech
  • Berkung
  • Blackbean
  • Butternut
  • Cancharana
  • Chakte Kok
  • Chakte Vega
  • Cherry
  • China Berry
  • Chinkapin
  • Gaboon Ebony
  • Elm
  • Hackberry
  • Indian Laurel
  • Jabin
  • Katalox
  • Kapur
  • Australian Lacewood
  • Lam Nhai
  • Leng Man
  • Lignum Vitae
  • Hard Maple
  • Machiche
  • Morado
  • Red and White Oak
  • Paela
  • Paldao
  • Black Palm
  • Peroba Rosa
  • Poplar
  • Pyinkado
  • Rimu
  • Sapele
  • Snakewood
  • Sycamore
  • Taun
  • Tchitola
  • South America Walnut
  • Yom Hom

This lumber is considered to be in the slight movement category:

  • Apple
  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Arariba
  • Balau
  • African Blackwood
  • Ben Se
  • Chechem
  • Curunai
  • Curupixa
  • Cuta
  • Cypress
  • African Ebony
  • Flamewood
  • Fang Deng
  • Freijo
  • Goncalo Alves
  • Guatambu
  • Honey Locust
  • Hug Lon
  • Jelutong
  • Kaki
  • Kauvula
  • KOA
  • Makore
  • Maple
  • Mesquite
  • Muhuhu
  • Nontsia
  • Ochoo
  • Pecan
  • Prima Vera
  • Purpleheart
  • Brazilian, Cocobolo and Honduran Rosewood
  • Sarari
  • Sassafras
  • Bloodwood Satine
  • Ceylonese Satinwood
  • Redwood
  • Ta Baek
  • Tarara Canarywood
  • Teak
  • Brazilian Tulipwood
  • American Walnut
  • Wenge
  • Willow
  • Xang Seak
  • Yew
  • Zebrawood

Finally the winner of the no or very little movement club are the following:

  • Red Alder
  • Aningeria
  • Antiaris
  • Balsa
  • Bamboo
  • Basswood
  • East African Camphorwood
  • Spanish Cedar
  • Cuchi
  • Curupay
  • Ipe
  • Jequitiba
  • Maracaibo Boxwood
  • African Padauk
  • Pear
  • Yellow Pine
  • Rengas
  • Indian Rosewood
  • Sen
  • Tatajuba

One final note. Notice the last group. In it is one of the hardest commercial woods – ipe. When you measure it, ipe wood on the JHS is well over 3500. On the other hand, balsa is on that same list. Its JHS is a mere 88.

In the not too distant future, we’ll explain how this works.

Best Woods for Certain Projects

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Want to make a bread box out of a plank of ipe. Go ahead. The loaf will probably still be good to eat after the aliens arrive and chase us human off to Alpha Centauri. Ipe is really hardwood.

But since our current planet has such a huge variety of trees from which to choose, some match the project at hand perfectly. Take a moment as we expose the rundown:

Wood Guide for the One With the Tools

  • Jelutong.
    This softie is considered “green” but it almost became extinct during the Boer War. The lumber has these little latex pockets that can be ground out and stuffed with wood filler. It’s straight grained and very easy for carvers. You’ll probably want to slip on a mask when cutting Jelutong. It has a tendency to bring to the surface fibers when it’s tooled around with.
  • Cottonwood.
    For those who settled down in the Midwest, this wood is a fave. But because everyone likes the lumber, you may have a touch of trouble finding it. This softwood has a straight grain.
  • Butternut.
    Which is likewise known as white walnut and is another softie. The heartwood is heavy brown in color while the sapwood looks kinda beige. Once you apply a clear finish, you’ll marvel at its gorgeous grain pattern.
  • Quaken Aspen.
    If you’re a beginner, this low-scale hardwood is perfect for you. Carves like a charm and sands like a champ. Probably don’t want to incorporate this stuff into a furniture project. But its color – mostly light – it takes a stain well.
  • Basswood.
    This is another wood with an alias: Lime. The heartwood and sapwood are almost identical in color – white. Because it’s such a softwood it’s gentle on your tools. The downside to basswood is that it’s as bland as a cloud. Staining is not recommended. Paint it instead.
  • Sassafras.
    Not only will this tree’s roots make a fab tea or beverage, it’s got a straight grain pattern. Color: Light brown with dark streaks. Not only does it look great, it has that root beer aroma.
  • Tupelo.
    The kids also call it water gum. That’s because you’ll usually see it reaching for the sky in swamps and wetlands. And the grain pattern is to die for. A simple clear finish adds to the beauty of this soft wood.
  • Walnut.
    For those who are thinking about creating a gun stock, black walnut or American walnut is your best choice. To carve you’ll not only need a chisel. You’ll need a mallet.
  • Mahogany.
    This one is tricky in the “green” department. You want to avoid African varieties and make sure it has a seal by one of the reputable associations that guarantee you’re not getting an outlaw brand. Other than that, it’s not that heavy to lift. It’s weird. Mahogany is light but really tough.

As we say, you can carve with any type of wood. At first, you’ll be a craftsman (or woman). Not long after, you’ll be transformed into an artist.

Ipe Decking – Considerations

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Handy-folks who plan to erect a deck in the next few months, we’ve got a suggestion for you. If you have your heart tuned to the ipe (EE-pay) dial, let a professional do the honors. It’s not that you can’t do it yourself. Not to say using this hardwood is like cutting diamonds or replacing a vital human organ. But there are some matters that need to be taken into consideration when using this super-hard exotic lumber.

You’re absolutely correct to set your sites on ipe. Once we projected that it actually may be hard enough to use in the construction of a rocket ship. We just want to make sure you know what you’re getting into before making the new outdoor space on your own.

The Surface and Below

The wood, at first feel, seems kinda tough – rough and raised. Even when you get the wood from the mill, it’s quartersawn. What dos that mean? Here are the three types of cuts so you can see for yourself:

Most decking materials are quartersawn because it’s more aesthetically pleasing and totally stable. To smoothen the surface of the ipe, you’ll become good buddies with your sander. This is not a SNAFU. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

What the Warp?

Ipe is not dried in a kiln. It’s dealt with by using air. That puts it in the range of about 15% moisture. You want that. It’s going to be soaking in the environments and this level keeps it stable. Be prepared to let it sit in your backyard for up-to a month before construction. By doing that it will get used to the climate. That should eliminate any weirdness down the line. Let it breathe-in the air to sow its wild oats before you ball-and-chain it to make a deck.

After it’s erected, slap it down with a coat-or-two of wax-based coating. That will further stabilize the wood.

You’re Going to Use a Cordless Drill?

Good luck. Ipe is some of the hardest lumber known to humankind. You’ll need a unit that’s not some wimpy 12 volt job. Same holds true for the saws. Unless you have a tool shed that would bring tears to Bob Villa’s eyes, you’re either going to need to spend some serious dough to buy new tools or strike a deal with a place that rents heavy-duty machinery. Don’t forget to double-triple-or-quadruple on the bits and blades. You will destroy a lot of peripherals.

And get ready to pre-drill everything. Driving in a fat bolt will end up splitting the hardwood unless you give it start. This ain’t no pressure-treated lumber.

Those are just a couple of things to think about before making a deck with ipe a DIY project. If you’re a pro, go. If you’re not, that’s a big no.

What’s Ash Used For?

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Pretty soon, if a certain predator has its way, using white ash will become a thing of the past. The background goes something like this:

The Emerald Ash Borer has invaded America. And even with buckets of money we continue to throw at the problem, we’re looking at 30-million or roughly 2/3rds of white ash in the country are infected. The bug isn’t too fussy, either. The EAB has been found in green ash – and practically every other breed in the ash family.

Even native western ashes like Oregon and Arizona ash are next on the victim list.

Tell Tale Signs

It doesn’t get its name by being orange. It’s a startling emerald green insect in color. First seen in late spring, you’d think that having a lifespan of about 3-weeks, they wouldn’t make such a mess of the ash kingdom. The females lay their eggs in the wrinkles of the bark. Once the critters hatch, the larvae munches into the inner bark. You’ll know you have a problem if you X-ray the outer shell of the tree and see tunnels shaped like the letter “S.” In this inner sanctum of the tree, the invasion screws-up the way that nutrients and water travel through the living structure.

Infected trees can be destroyed without passing the EAB onto other nearby living structures. Mulch it, burn it or haul if off to a mill.

Get it While You Can

Not to cause a crush of woodworker’s storming the lumberyard waiting outside of Walmart on Black Friday, as generations amble by, we may have a problem with the availability of white ash. That is unless science pulls a flying rabbit out of its hat to eliminate the EAB.

A few details: Ash is considered a hardwood. The dominant trees of this species are white, green and black. Basically, it’s a dream substance for woodworkers. Very bendable, it soaks-up shock and glue. Staining is a cinch.

You’ll find it in the construction of cabinets, paneling, bookcases, flooring and other forms of hardwood furniture. Chainsaw cutters love the material to make large carvings of bears, eagles and other critters you’d like as a keepsake to scare-off the yard rats.

You don’t need to go big with ash. The lumber is well-suited for cutting boards, molding, delicate carvings, picture frames and the like.

That Ain’t All

Up until the end of the last century, when you heard the crack of the bat at a baseball game, unless the hitter was embarrassing himself with an aluminum job, the instrument was made of ash. Want some more stats on America’s premier hitting machine? Kudos to the Louisville Slugger for these fun facts about the ash bat:

  • How many trees does it take to make a season’s bats?
    About 40,000 per season.
  • Does H&B own its own forests?
    H&B owns about 7,500 acres of timberland in Pennsylvania and New York.  The company also purchases timber from other sources.
  • From what kinds of timber are bats made?
    In our history we have used Northern White Ash, Hickory, Oak, and Maple.  Today approximately 50% of Major League Baseball® bats we make are Ash and 50% are Maple.
  • Why do players prefer Ash or Maple?
    Ash has just the proper amount of tensile strength and resiliency required.  These properties, in the finished bat, transmit power or drive.  The weight of ash is also favorable, being very much in line with what is demanded. Maple is denser than ash and, thus, considered a little harder.  It is also heavier, which makes it challenging to find high grade lightweight maple for MLB bats.  Today’s players demand lighter weights than players of years ago, in large part because all of today’s MLB players grew up as kids playing with lighter aluminum bats. Physics professors who’ve studied the properties of ash and maple say there’s no real difference in how one performs over the other when made into baseball bats.
  • Wasn’t ash always the most popular?
    Yes, for decades.  But after some players started having success hitting home runs with maple in the 1990’s more players started asking for maple bats.  Years ago, much hickory was used.  Hickory has many desirable bat qualities, but it is too heavy to meet the demands of today’s players who like lighter bats.
  • How many Louisville Slugger wood bats are made yearly?
    Today, approximately 1.8 million, including souvenir bats.

Interior Design with Wood

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Back in 2010, astronauts actually grew a tree in outer space. Read this from the BBC:

“The shuttle Endeavour’s return to Earth brought with it the first trees grown on the International Space Station (ISS). The weeping willows were a Canadian-led experiment to try to understand what makes wood. If you’re wondering how they managed to fit trees inside the orbiter for the journey home, these were of course just willow shoots – not the full-grown thing.”

Other than that, you’ll be hard pressed to find any lumber-based stuff orbiting the planet, unless you consider pencils. The Russkies employed the lead-centered devices a while back because ball point pens were worthless in zero gravity.

Terra Firma

Back here on the planet, we love our wood. If we had some termite DNA, we’d probably eat it, too. The closest thing we folks come to enjoying timber products is cinnamon. Then that’s not really wood. It’s bark.

Although, we humans do eat cellulose which is basically wood. Here might be a reason to leggo your Eggo. Kellogg’s uses cellulose in:

  • Eggo Nutri-Grain Blueberry waffles
  • Eggo Strawberry Waffles
  • Eggo Blueberry Waffles

And check out this article that appeared online at “The Street” website in 2011:

“The recent class-action lawsuit brought against Taco Bell raised questions about the quality of food many Americans eat each day. Chief among those concerns is the use of cellulose (read: wood pulp), an extender whose use in a roster of food products, from crackers and ice creams to puddings and baked goods, is now being exposed. What you’re actually paying for — and consuming — may be surprising.”

But enough of the fun stuff. We’re walking toward interior design with wood. Unhand that taco.


When you use wood for something – furniture, moldings or floors – you’re getting something that actually improves with age. Like fine wine, as it gets older, dings and all, it’s a lot warmer than iron or plastic. When it comes from a tree, it already has a history. By being in your home, another series of chapters are written.

Sure would be nice to be a kid again. Rather than study for years how to split an atom or being able to explain the Caldari financial system to your buddies, woodworking is becoming more-and-more a learning choice for kids and old fuds alike. This craft – actually more of an art – is becoming en vogue once again. Even if it’s not being used on the International Space Station, skilled carvers are in demand.

The nice thing about having such a talent when building objects and fixtures for indoor design units is that we’ve tried it with machines. Not too successful. It works to a degree, but it’s not one-of-a-kind.

What Doesn’t Rhyme With Wood?

Solid wood is not a loner. It goes with virtually everything on the inside of your home. It’s work quite well when it comes to marrying with hardwood furniture, drapes, paneling, lamps, rugs. Stained, painted or left to fend for itself, it shows love to everything.

While someday, a few folks will marvel at the crappy chrome designs of rooms slapped together in the 1980’s, chalk-off these “aficionados” as oddballs. But take some time tomorrow to visit an open house with original Victorian furnishings. You’ll quickly see that investing in wood for your interior design gives timelessness and value to your property.

Who knows, maybe someday when Richard Branson gets the hang of space travel, he might even think of making a rocket ship out of ipe. Let’s just hope we won’t be forced to eat wood from toothpaste tubes on the journey.