New handbook promotes alternative uses for wood and forest products

The information is meant to help small landowners with decision-making

MADISON, Wis. -- A 40-page handbook for owners of smaller Northwoods forest parcels making productive use of wood from their own land is available from the Partners in Forestry Cooperative.

“Northwoods Forest Conservation: Celebrating Local Wood and Alternative Forest Products”, a handbook of how to use local wood for construction and other projects, is available for free digitally.

The handbook can be downloaded here:

Just enter the password: nfc2021handbook

The handbook from the Conover, Wisconsin cooperative promoting construction and craft products, maintains that these projects help promote “a trend toward local use of our sustainable, growing forest resource.”

The information is directed particularly toward owners of smaller wood lots. The authors point out that larger blocks are being divided into small blocks, often 80 acres or less.

The handbook advocates for local owners and businesses making use of harvested wood in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and in Northern Wisconsin for economic value. And it reminds readers that carbon sequestration continues in wood products (not just in living trees).

The handbook offers guidelines on lumber drying (both air drying and kiln drying) after it has been milled, including guidelines on the recommended number of years for air drying depending on species and thickness of wood.

The booklet contains a broad range of information on advantages and disadvantages of various types of wood for different projects. There is specific information on a range of wood including red and white pine, balsam fir, spruce, jack pine, tamarack, white cedar, basswood and aspen, plus various hardwoods.

Here’s an example of what the handbook has to say about one species: spruce.

SPRUCE (White, with occasional Black or Norway Spruce): Is a beautiful light toned wood, displaying good strength characteristics with favorable light weight (28 pounds per cubic foot dry). It has very hard knots, enough that I often broke carbide bits out of the circle sawmill. Often used with our pines, it is an attractive and worthy choice for a wide variety of uses. Clear Spruce is often sought out by music instrument makers, and in specialty paddles. Spruce is an excellent choice for many building and crafting projects as it is strong, holds nails well and is beautiful. Used with Red or White Pine it offers great diversity in aesthetics with its random knot structure.”

There also are a range of useful tips on building and maintaining log homes. And the handbook also discusses other incidental products from Northern forests, including Christmas holiday decorations and birch bark products, plus princess pine and maple syrup.

Joe Hovel, President of the Partners in Forestry Cooperative, explained the purpose of the handbook: “Our local timber resources are well suited to a wide variety of applications, and we want to share our experiences with others who care deeply about their land and local community. Celebrating local wood and alternative forest products gives insight into the logic of utilizing your own resources for the good of your family and beyond.”

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