Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Better Way

Here is a one in a million – a perfect log, the best of the best.  Toppled in a windstorm, I salvaged this dead White Oak tree and am about to make a lot of money from the windfall opportunity.
This log measures 20 inches diameter inside the bark on the small end and 8 feet long.  Using the Scribner log scale the volume is about 140 board feet of lumber.   (The upper logs of this tree contained another 360 board feet.)

Every other person in the timber industry would sell this as a veneer log that would be shipped to the far East.  This truck load of similar White Oak logs recently passed through Spring Green on the way to the container loading yard, last stop before being processed in China.  These logs are sliced paper thin and the veneer applied to cheap base material like rubberwood plywood for “engineered” flooring or particle board for flimsy furniture, producing cheap products that soon end up in the landfill.
The commercial value of logs like these white oak veneer logs - the best of the best – is about $1 per board foot for the timber grower.  The export season for logs is winter, due to wood fungus growth in warm summer months, so markets are limited for the next 5 months.  The commercial value of my perfect log is about $140.  The upper logs of this tree were quite knotty so they were saw logs or tie logs, adding another $80 in value to this large good quality tree.  Few forest owners ever earn $220 from their best trees, this tree is very unusual. 
In the commercial markets, the timber grower gets a small payment, never enough to consider forest management a profitable and manageable crop, even when selling veneer quality trees.  A logger likely would make $75 for felling and skidding the tree to the roadside landing.  Truckers would earn another $100 or so from this tree until the container load leaves Wisconsin.  Local log buyers and brokers make money, though that profit would be secret business information.   Guess how much the distant big corporations make….!?
I will earn at least $5,000 selling flooring and other products from this tree and keep nearly all of the money in the local economy.  In our business system, the upper knotty logs of this tree have about the same high value as this one perfect log.  The small knotty and crooked cherry logs and the elm tree also toppled in this windstorm will earn similar high value.  Our character grade custom blended hardwood flooring earns us about $10 per board foot for all dense hardwoods on our farm.
This perfect log and the upper knotty logs will be quartersawn to get the best value boards.  The lumber will be dried with naturally accelerated wind power and the sun’s heat - in our Solar Cycle Lumber dry kilns.  The clear boards will likely be made into higher value products than flooring. 
We make cutting boards, cheese boards, signs and plaques that can earn us $20+ per board foot.
We make kitchen cabinets and doors that earn us $30+ per board foot.
We make wooden countertops, stairways, and furniture that bring in $50+ per board foot.
We make specialty products and pieces of art that earn over $100 per board foot.
Our government and Universities support the commercial timber markets and the ongoing practice of exporting our best logs to the Far East for processing.  This continues the system of exporting our jobs and our resources and our money.  Wisconsin government and Universities actively block forest owner efforts to promote the use of locally grown and manufactured forest products. 
The timber industry is dominated by a few huge corporations.  These corporations influence and control the government  to protect the industrial system.  Even though the Wisconsin timber industry has lost 500,000 jobs and half of our production in the last 30 years to mechanization and globalization, the industrial dominance is still in place around here. 
I encourage other timber growers and urban forestry programs and governments and wood products customers to support the use of locally grown and manufactured forest products.  This would reduce the exporting of our best timber resources, lower the demand for illegally logged timber in the tropics, and boost our local economies.


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