Sustainable Practices : to last for generations
Back in college as an Environmental Studies and Philosophy major, I spent a lot of time thinking about sustainability. Now, as a furniture maker I have lots of opportunities to put many of those ideas into practice. The first key element is that I don’t make disposable or temporary use furniture. I try to design pieces that people will love and value for generations – timeless, durable heirlooms that will look even better with the patina of use and age. I know how wood moves and ages and design to accommodate it.
All of the cherry, ash, maple, mahogany, alder, sapele and bamboo I use is sustainably harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. In these forests, wood is removed at the rate of growth, so it will retain is forest character indefinitely. Also, I have helped mill many boards from local trees that have blown down in wind storms or been removed by road crews. From this, I have quite a lot of maple, some poplar, holly and walnut that can be used in your piece. When I use Douglas fir, I source salvaged wood from old Northwest buildings that are dismantled. Walnut is one species that is often difficult to find sustainably harvested. It was mostly cut from all US forests a long time ago due to its value. Wise farmers in the Midwest planted many acres of walnut trees years ago for their grandchildren, and this is where my walnut now comes from. Many other species are available either salvaged, certified sustainable, or locally sourced. Please contact me to discuss sourcing special wood for your project.
The millennium the stone will spend in your piece of furniture is just a blip in its life. Like being moved by a glacier, only faster.
Waste and Recycling
I designed my bookends and vases to use the small pieces of wood left over from other projects. Pieces unsuitable for those, I turn into sculptures or cutting boards, and the pieces too small for those are used to heat my home. Wood dust is composted in the garden.
I have tested many dozens of non toxic finishes, looking for ones that perform well. I use 3 main finishes. For vases and bookends I use Bioshield hard oil #9, a natural oil that is thin and absorbs well. For all furniture except dining tables and heavy use coffee tables I use a non toxic hardening oil with excellent water and wine resistance called Livos Kunos #244. It is hard to get, but worth it. For dining table tops and heavy use coffee tables, I use oil based polyurethane. My favorite is Minwax satin polyurethane as it has fewer solvents than most and provides complete protection against all the usual liquids.
I package everything I ship very carefully and it is extremely rare that anything arrives less than perfect. I get almost all of my boxes salvaged from the grocery and hardware stores so don’t be surprised by that case of chips that just arrived. All the packing peanuts, paper and bubble wrap are second use as well, and ready for a third use. Large furniture is either shipped blanket wrap, where the shipping company will unwrap your piece and take the blankets, or I make a very sturdy crate from either new or second use plywood.