Filed under: In English | Tags: birch, furniture factory, gluing, glulam, IKEA, kiln & dry, knock-down furniture, planing, producing furniture, transportation
The industrial process of producing furniture – Ecology – Part IV (of VI)
Here you can see how the logs are processed within a modern saw-mill:
The boards are then transported to a kiln & dry-facility.
There the boards are dried in a chamber equipped with fans which circulate the humid air and the chamber has a temperature between 40 – 70 degrees Celsius.
The process takes about 2 weeks for coniferous wood and 3 weeks for hardwood. The process is very energy-intensive.
From the kiln-and-dry the boards go to the glulam-factory.
In the glulam factory, the boards are sawn into stripes and planed into measures.
After that they are cut to lengths – while removing the unwanted knots, miscoloured parts etc..
During this process the pieces are also sorted according to different standards.
After that the length- and quality-sorted components are sorted according to texture, grain and colour, which differs, depending on in what kind of soil the tree has grown, how it is sawn, radially or tangentially.
Also the angle of the originally sawn board in relation to the annual rings of the log, the irregular growth of the tree affects how the wood reflects light.
All this is done because the surface of the furniture should not give the zebra-stripe-look in the finnished product. The work of sorting has to be done by the human eye, in order to decide what are the beauty, harmony and art aspects in the final furniture.
Believe me, when you work with birch, the description above has only scratched the surface on how to create beautiful and artistic furniture.
The glulam sheets are then taken further to a furniture factory…
… where they are processed further; sawn to measure, drilled and shaped, varnished and packed.
The whole process seem to be complicated, and it is, but nowadays it really is so, that one manufacturer has one segment that he specialize himself.
Earlier the process was more like “from the forest to a ready product” at one single large factory, but as one furniture factory can produce tens of thousands of pieces of the exact same table, it is not interested in any other raw-material than what it needs for that table as legs. It is not interested in sorting out material of other dimensions, nor selling material cannot utilize and so on.
There are even factories which have only one automatic line for one purpose only. As an example can be mentioned a factory which only lacquers table-legs, with a capacity of 25.000 legs per day.
The point here is that all cards are dealt once more, as soon as the price of the fossil energy goes up. The winners in that situation will be those factories that are near each other. This is because there is so much transportation involved in the process of delivering a product from the forest to the consumer.
The most successful company, IKEA, makes quite nice birch furniture. The birch comes mainly from Russia.*All* their birch-products are made in China. After that they are transported to different parts of the world.
Next time, when you see a birch table from IKEA, you will see the price, but hopefully also the amount of non-renewable fossil energy used in its production.
Our beautiful friend has issues:
“And you call those pathetic squares glued together… Design?
Look at nature, the most beautiful thing ever… where do you see squares?
Nature has round forms and it is beautiful, do not try to mess around with it!!
You hear me?!!
I asked; Do you hear me? You.., you..”
OK, you can take a tree here and there, but be careful. Be very careful – or else…”
To be continued…
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Filed under: band-saw, ecology, environment, Finland, In English, logging, sawing, sustainable, wood engineering | Tags: band-saw, Finland, forwarder, framesaw, harvester, logging, sawing, sawmill, windmill, woodworking
Ecological – Part III (of VI)
Let us look at the different processes: Woodworking – Logging and sawing
The harvester, on the left. It cuts the tree, debranches it, sprays some urea on the stump, and paint-stripes on the end of the log.
The different colors on the ends of the logs, the paint-stripes, tell the forwarder-operator the length and sort of each tree.
The forwarder-operator can thus sort the logs by picking up one sort at a time.
The wagon of the forwarder can load about ten or more cbm [cubic meters] per time. The logs are taken to the nearest place where the log-trucks can be loaded.
In this video, the harvester cuts, debranches and debarks the logs:
The debarking of the log has many positive aspects when logging in the warm season; the log is not so easily attacked by insects and fungi, the bark that remains in the forest will stay there as nutrients, the mass of the load is reduced by 7 – 8 %, the weight even more as the log dries much faster without bark.
Here you can see how a forwarder works:
Both the harvester and the forwarder are computerized.
To the left is a “Walking Harvester”
The university of Tampere (Finland) and a Finnish company developed a “Walking Harvester” before John Deere bought the company. This harvester is meant for steep hillsides, where safety is very essential when logging in such an environment, and also the environment itself needs to be taken care of. If the earth is very scarred at steep hillsides, the heavy rain and fast melting snow can endanger the soil before nature has taken care of the “scars”. If the soil that keeps the trees growing runs down together with the water, it takes thousands of years to recover the forest – if ever.
The best known example of this are the former dense cedar-forests of Lebanon. First the Foinikians logged the main forests and after that, the Romans logged the rest. After the hills where barred, there was nothing that kept the soil in place.
There are different methods to keep the forests growing for centuries to come. The methods of logging, depends on if the forest is at a big lake or on steep hill. As a rule, forest are logged in zig-zag-corridors, so that the wind can’t get too strong, but blow mainly above the forest.
On the left, a Roman saw-mill found in Asia Minor.
On the right, a commercially made band-saw, Serra. The kerf (the gap that becomes saw-dust) is about 2 mm when you saw with a bandsaw.
A typical kerf for circular log-saws and frame-saws is 5 – 6 mm. It might seem to be a small difference, but the fact is that from one medium-size log, you can get one extra board. That makes a big difference at the end of the day – especially if the logs are of the highest quality such as knotless logs. The knotless boards, for example which the carpenters make boats from, do not come cheap.
The downside with a band-saw is that it is slower, but one thing which compensates this fact is that it uses much less electrical power.
The framesaw, to the left, has a set of fixed saw-blades, 5 – 11 blades. The framesaw through-saws the whole log into unsquared boards simultaneously.
The circular logsaw, saws fast, but only one board at time.
Laser technology is used in many different types of processing units in a modern saw-mill.
Usually the saw-mill needs a big yard in order to keep the logistics in good order.
To be continued…
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Filed under: DIY, ecology, energy saving, environment, In English, wood engineering | Tags: chip-board, DIY, ecology, energy, furniture, hard-wood board, kiln, saw-mill, stack, sustainable
‘Ecological’ – the sustainability approach – Part II (of VI)
Well, there is no certain answer, but it all depends on many factors as told in Part I;
A chipboard factory
1) The chip-boards, or particleboards, are usually made from chips of some waste from some saw-mill or such. The glue is a combination of chemicals and the process of making chip-boards uses a lot of energy. The laminate is plastic. You maybe need to replace this kind of table-top every 25 years.
The release of formaldehyde from the particleboards is also a great concern.
2) To saw a stone into measure and to make the final product smooth and the edges round = a lot of energy needed. The durability of the stone can be hundreds of years, if the house does not burn or somebody smash it down with a hammer.
3) To make it from hardwood by yourself:
a) To buy a ready-glued sheet of hardwood, sawn into the dimensions needed. Then just sand the edges and such and coat it with something, or maybe just oil it. The coating has to be such that it will not give the food, or what ever you make on that table-top, any toxins. All sorts of lacquers or paint do not fit a kitchen. [To paint hardwood is a crime against humanity.]
The logs should not lay directly on the ground.
If the logs are lying unbarked during summer, there is
a great risk of mold, blue-stain and insect attacks.
b) You buy hardwood boards. The boards are sawn with some amount of energy. The planks are put into a kiln and dried in a chamber specially built for that purpose.
You can use different hardwoods, in order to get different colour-patterns, to suit your thoughts of architecture and design. You need water-resistant glue, but considerably less than is used in chip-boards. You need quite many tools in order to press the boards together, plain and sand them. Then you need to coat it. After 25 years, you might to need to sand your table-top and coat it again.
A table-top of birch for a desk, size 100 cm by 200 cm
c) You buy fresh hardwood boards directly from the saw-mill. Or as we aim to do; make the logging, then saw the logs with a DIY-band-sawmill. The logs are through-sawn – still not squared. [You can also square them before drying. They dry faster but tend to be curved sideways. We will write later about “How to square hardwood”]
You stack the non-squared boards on sticks in a shady place. Depending on the thickness and what time of the year you have sawn the logs, the drying process takes 6 – 12 months when dried out-doors.
After that you have to square the boards and re-stack the boards inside a place which is constantly warm and dry. There the wood should dry for months, depending on the temperature. A minimum is about 4 – 9 months.
A stack of birch is opened and the first furniture components are selected for gluing the steps of the stairs that are under construction.
This can sound like a very time-consuming way to proceed, but after the first time, and when keeping the process continuous, you always have dry wood at your disposal. It is the cheapest and most energy efficient way to make any furniture.
The downside is that you need to buy a lot of tools and equipment to produce everything needed from scratch – from unsquared boards, that is. But to manage making different things from wood is a great hobby and very useful to learn and teach the kids.
Also teach your spouse, so that when you hear nagging about “we should buy this or that”, you can show where the tools are. Believe me; DIY makes wonders in a person’s personality. A silent spouse is something to have.
To be continued…
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Filed under: DIY, ecology, energy saving, In English, wood engineering | Tags: disassemble, DIY, ecological, non-renewable, product, raw-material, recycled, self-made, sustainable, usabilty
1) A product that uses less energy than the other is not necessarily ecological. How’s that?
2) A table top of stone is not necessarily ecological. How’s that?
3) A wooden table is not necessarily ecological. How’s that?
Now for some provocative questions: You need to have a new table-top near your kitchen sink.
What is the best solution?
1) To buy a laminated chip-board.
2) To buy a table-top of stone.
3) To DIY.
An ecological product has to be seen as a whole process.
We have to consider:
– How much (non-renewable) energy has been used when it is produced?
– How much energy is needed when the product is used?
– The usability of the product – and is it really needed? Or is it just standing and taking space in the garage?
– Can it be self-made? Can it be made of recycled materials?
– How long is the life-time of the product?
– Can it be easily disassembled to usable raw-materials when it has ‘served out’?
– What can it, or parts of it, be used to when it can’t be used anymore in its original function?
Ecological – chip-board, stone or self-made?
To be continued…
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