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What is a Wood Acquisition Rescue Program?
This is a program that provides woodworking clubs a chance to utilize urban trees that are being cut down or have been blown or knocked down, to rescue the wood from these trees for woodworking projects.
How do I find down trees in my area?
There are 2 very obvious ways of finding trees, first of all connect with a local "parks" branch of your local government. They will be aware of trees that need to come down because they are diseased or in some other way, a threat to safety or other reasons. They are often quite happy to turn over the felled trees just to have someone else clear them away and mill them. The second obvious source is to connect with local arborists or tree pruning and falling companies. These sources can be of some help but be aware that some of them will be interested in the trees or logs for their on business reasons.
How to start a Wood Acquisition Rescue Program with my Woodworking Club?
We have provided a step by step guide for starting such a program, staring below.
Overview - Starting a Wood Acquisition Rescue Program
Woodworking clubs have a desire to be environmentally responsible and to help future woodworkers by supporting them their woodworking endeavors. Wood Acquisition Rescue Programs (WARP) can help this process by providing the members of woodworking clubs with a means of supplying good useable wood for their members, as well as surplus wood that can be donated to school and college students for their woodworking projects, or by selling the wood and providing bursaries to schools.
At Woodworkweb we have the ability and the knowledge to play a significant role in assisting every woodworking club in developing and running their own individual WARP by providing guidelines on the process, and by because Woodworkweb can be the FIRST LINE CONTACT SYSTEM.
The First Line Contact means someone is available 24 hours as day, seven days a week to be able to respond to situations that lend themselves to a Wood Acquisition Rescue Program.
Woodworkweb will keep a confidential up-to-date database of CLUB CONTACTS which will enable clubs to receive information quickly and to respond to any WARP opportunities.
By keeping these files in one location, as membership and leadership in clubs change, woodworkweb remains a constant First Line Contact between those people who report wood for rescue and the woodworking clubs. In this way we can help ensure the longevity and success of the program.
The cost for clubs to participate in this program is nothing.
The cost for people to report wood rescue trees is nothing.
Benefits To Donors of Usable Trees ...
#1 - Reduced costs of hauling / disposing of waste trees
#2 - The knowledge that they are contributing to the environment and the community
#3 - An opportunity promote good public relations news
Benefits To Woodworkers and Woodworking Clubs
#1 - The environment is helped by saving trees from burn piles and garbage dumps
#2 - Woodworking clubs are provided with a broad spectrum of wood to use
#3 - Your community is served with better tree usage and disposal
#4 - Valuable wood is recycled into useful items
#5 - Optionally the program can be used to supply schools and students with lumber
#6 - Woodworkers are provided with good usable wood at reduced costs
#6 - Woodworking teams building stronger communities by working together
Steps to starting a Wood Rescue Program
1 - At a woodworking club meeting, introduce and explain the program.
2 - Solicit a small working group to who will adjust the plan to work with their club in their area
3 - Working group meets to personalizes plan to fit their club
4 -Working group explains details of plan at a future woodworking club meeting
5 - People are selected for specific roles in the program (see roles)
6 - Woodworking club members are provided with FIRST LINE CONTACT cards (in resource section) to hand out to
7 - The woodworkweb is informed of the three woodworking club contacts
8 - The program begins
The first thing a Wood Acquisition Rescue Program (WARP) needs is people. People are the heart, muscle and brains of the program. Under ideal conditions the people that fill this role, particularly the Leaders, should be experienced in woodworking, and should be volunteers. In our experience, volunteers are often more dedicated and thoughtful to the system.
To operate a Wood Rescue Program, we recommend the following roles:
#1 - Contacts (three required)
These people will be responsible for receiving the initial message that there is an opportunity for rescue wood. The "contact" people should be club members who do much of their work on computers that are connected to the Internet. The reason for this is that Woodworkweb will be sending emails, with detailed information to EACH of the three contacts. These emails could arrive at any time during the day or night so it is imperative that these people consciously read their emails a few times each day.
We have selected the number of three contacts to ensure we double up on getting this information to the clubs as quickly as we can.
It will be the role of the contacts to inform the Leader (and the Vice Leaders) of a WARP opportunity.
#2 - Leader (one required)
This person will be responsible for coordinating the entire program, which is not as ominous as it sounds. Primarily the Leader should be someone who can delegate activities to others. It will be up to the Leader to ensure that both of the Vice-Leaders are well informed on all aspects of the program so that either one of the Vice-Leaders can take over in place of the Leader should the need arise. The Leader should also delegate someone to keep track of any costs incurred during the WARP process.
#3 - Vice Leaders (two recommended)
These people will need to be as familiar with the wood recovery program as the Leader. One of the primary roles of a Vice Leader is to take over the wood recovery program in the event the leader is unable to fulfill their role. The secondary duties of the Vice Leaders are to support the Leader by being of special help to the Leader as needed, and as delegated by the Leader.
#4 - One Safety Patrol Leader (one recommended)
This person is assigned the role of ensuring everyone involved in the WARP is performing their duties in the safest way possible, including the wearing of safety gear as needed. It is not necessary that this person know First Aid or have taken any safety courses (but it is recommended), their main roles is checking and instilling everyone's common sense to safety. We recommend this person wear some forms of safety gear (hard hat, vest etc.) to help identify them to the group and as a constant visual reminder to the work party.
#5 - Workers (minimum of 10 workers suggested)
Workers will be responsible for a variety of duties throughout the WARP. They may be called upon to assist in moving wood, cleaning up site during and after the activities, sorting / marking / grading wood. It may be helpful to have a few workers with their own chain saws, as these can come in handy from time to time for "delimbing" some trees.
Note: It is a good idea to involve different woodworker types in your program. For example those who are furniture makers will often use different parts of a tree than would woodturners or carvers. Having different people interested in different parts of the tree will help make better use of the trees and provide a guideline on how it is to be milled.
A well run WARP will require a number of people and material resources. We recommend to each woodworking club that is implementing a WARP, have the following resources identified ahead of time. When you get a call that a tree is down, or about to be felled, you will have little time to be locating the resources you need. Locate them ahead of time, so you know where to call when you need them.
#1 - People with chain saws (at least one or two)
These are often Woodworking Club members. They may need to be called upon to remove the limbs from trees or buck large trees into manageable lengths. If they are qualified and insured, they may be tree fallers as well, but falling is best left to the professionals.
#2 - Access to a Crane Truck
This is not as awesome as it sounds. Some trees will be located in areas that are difficult to get at, and many large trees may need to be lifted onto trucks or trailers to be hauled away. In some instances auto wrecking trucks are suitable, otherwise a truck with a "lift" from a construction company may be needed.
In some cases trees may be in peoples back yards or other less accessible spots. Some of these are so large they are impossible to remove economically and the only option is use a portable mill. like an Alaskan chain saw mill or a small portable band saw which could be used to process these logs. In some cases you may have to make the determination if a tree is worth salvage or not. Not every tree will be worth the time, expense and effort of rescuing it for wood.
#3 - Access Tree Hauling Truck or Trailer
This can often be done with a suitable utility trailer (car haulers work well) or a truck large enough to hold the wood, as mentioned above a truck from a construction company may work for this.
#4 - Saw Mill
In almost every region of the country there are numbers of people who have small saw mills. Some of these mills are portable, some are fixed. There are also a variety of them that use large chain saws to cut rough planks, while others use gas driven circular or band saws. You will need to compile a list of people with mills, fixed or portable depending on your need and preference, or what is available in your area.
#5 - Work and Storage Location
Very often wood is "rescued" during the week and workers and club members are only available on weekends to assist with the milling. You may need a small yard to store the trees until you can get a work party to begin processing them, and you may need a place to mill the trees if the mill you are using is portable. Many farmers and industrial locations will allow temporary use of their acreage (offering to clean up thoroughly after can go a long way too). Also if you are dealing with local and municipal governments, they often have a secure place where wood can be stored short term.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT - is that trees that are felled, need to be moved to a secure place, otherwise they will be bucked up and removed by others.
#6 - Drying Wood (optional)
There are a variety of ways wood can be dried. Most hardwoods are best dried slowly to reduce twisting of the wood. Air drying boards naturally, when they are two inches or more thick can take two to three years or more. Electric or gas fired kilns can dry wood in only a few days but there is an added cost for this service. Other kilns that dry wood through evaporation processes include solar and moisture extraction kilns. These often take a few weeks to dry the wood, but the twisting is often much reduced, as is the cost of drying. If you can cannot find someone with a kiln in your area you may need to sell your wood "green". Evaporation and solar kilns can be quite safe and economical to build . These could be worth investigating in for an individual or a club.
#7 - Sales Yard or Location
If you are selling your "rescued" wood green, you could use the same cutting lot, or if you have dried the wood maybe you can sell it as it comes out of the kiln.
#8 - Reserve Funds
The process of recovering wood will cost your club some money. You will need to have money to pay people for their services, possibly a tree faller, a skidder, someone to "crane" the wood and haul it to your holding yard. You will also have to pay someone to mill the wood and possibly something for drying too, depending on your situation. Make sure you keep track of the costs because this is what will help determine how much you will be selling the wood for.
With some suppliers you may be able to "trade" some of your wood for their services. A saw mill or kiln operator for example may be interested in taking some wood as all or part payment. This is another option for you to explore.
#9 - End Sealers for Tree Trunks
Once a tree is down, it is critical to seal the end grain of the wood. Most woods dry quickly once the end grain is exposed and when it dries too quickly this can lead to cracking an warping. We recommend that your club invests in a suitable quantity of end grain sealer, that is specifically manufactured for this purpose, available at all fine woodworking stores. You will need a substantial quantity of this, talk to your dealer to establish the correct amount.
The "Leaders" will need to know where this material is being stored, or assign it to a club member of the WARP team.
#10 - Cleaning Tools
Depending on where you haul your trees to or mill them into boards, you are likely going to be faced with some amount of cleanup. We recommend that a few brooms, shovels, plastic bags or plastic garbage containers be available to carry waste away.
#11 - Signs or Spray Paint for "Tagging" Trees
Once a tree has been cut down, particularly if it is on public land and in are area where there is heavy traffic, it is VERY important to identify and "tag" your trees so others who come across it will not take it. We recommend that small waterproof signs be made and stapled to the trees, or that the trees be spray painted to identify them. In most cases this is all that is needed in order for people to not buck your trees into firewood. Is is also a good idea to move them away to a secure location as soon as possible to reduce temptation.
#12 - Metal Detector / Remover
One of the known disadvantages with "urban" trees, is that they can contain bits of metal, including nails, wire, even old bullets. All of these can damage saw blades and can create safety hazards.
If possible, we recommend using a good quality metal detector on a tree to see if you can find any metal bits. Don't be surprised if the metal detector does not pick up nails that are embedded deep in the tree. It is not unusual to cut down trees with nails or pieces of wire in them that have been in the tree for decades.
#13 - Informing the Community
In order for the WARP to be a success, you are going to need to inform a lot of people of what the program is, and how they can participate in it. Much of this will be up to individual Club Members but it is also a good idea for the WARP Leader and/or Woodworking Club President to pay a visit to local municipal government officials to inform them of the program and the benefits to the community.
People who will need to be contacted include Town / City / Municipal / County government officials in "Parks", Highways and road maintenance, Building and Public Works. Private companies like landscapers, arborists, tree fallers, building contractors and developers and anyone else who may have occasion to remove trees.
ALL OF THESE CONTACTS should be provided with at least one business card so that in the event they have trees that need to be removed they will know how to contact someone in order to donate their trees. This is where woodworkweb plays the role of FIRST LINE CONTACT and in turn informing the appropriate club of the wood rescue opportunity.
Wood Acquisition Rescue Programs (WARP) work when people to engage in the program. This refers to both people who will be cutting down trees and those who will be reclaiming them.
Once the local woodworking club contacts have been informed about trees in their area that are available for WARP, it will be up to the local club to then implement their own processes for recovery of this wood by mobilizing their workers and resources.
The first thing that should happen is at least one of the Leaders should go to the location of the tree(s) to ensure it is available, it is recoverable, and that it is significantly useful in the program.
If the tree is down, the end grains should be sealed as soon as possible, preferably the same day. If the tree needs to be moved immediately by the group that is falling the tree, we recommend to tell them to cut the tree into ten foot lengths if possible, shorter as needed. The reason we suggest ten foot lengths is these are often easier for sawmills to process. If a log is too short it can be more difficult for some mills to cut these, and there can be more waste.
You may need to "Take Possession" of the tree right then and there. Often fallen trees are hauled away in the night or bucked up by others for firewood. Taking possession of the trees can be a simple as spray painting the tree with "Property of ABC Wood Club", or affix signs that point out who owns the tree and that it is "Hands Off". This will help ensure it doesn't disappear in the night (it's amazing how well this works).
Once the tree has been sized to suitable lengths, it will need to be hauled away. This is where the Leader(s) will have established a place ahead of time where the tree(s) will go. They may go to a holding yard, or directly to a mill.
Once the trees have been milled, they may be sold green, or they may need to be shipped to a kiln for drying. This will depend on the facilities in your locale.
The final step is to add up the cost of recovering and processing the wood and marking it into salable size lots. We suggest that all the lumber be marked as to the quantity of board feet it contains with a suitable marker (don't use something that will stain or mar the wood).
After you tally the amount of board feet, and the cost of recovery you will determine the cost per board feet which will determine the selling price.
Don't forget to add a bit for inevitable waste, and for any donations for local schools or colleges.
Processing the Wood (Milling and Drying)
Before you begin any wood processing, make sure you and the WARP crew are working safely, and that a Safety Person has been assigned. You should also know that much of the wood you will be rescuing is "Urban" wood, that mean trees that have often been planted by people in and around where they live. One of the facts of urban wood and trees is there are sometimes bits of metal embedded in the tree. These can be anything from nails that were driven into the tree decades ago, to bullets that were shot at a tree, wire that the tree has grown around or other bits of metal.
These bits of metal, depending on their size can damage saw blades, as well they pose a risk of flying metal. It is imperative that EVERYONE working around a milling site be properly safety equipped, especially safety eye wear.
#1 - Buck the tree into usable lengths, the longer the better, with ten feet often being the maximum length. Cut away smaller branches and if the tree branches or "Ys" significantly such as a split trunk, cut slightly below the the crotch of the branching as "crotch wood" is valued by woodturners for it's unique wood grain twists for bowls and other objects. This is why it is a good idea to pool different types of woodworkers on a wood recovery team.
#2 - Haul the bucked tree to a holding yard, or if possible bring in a portable sawmill and cut it where it is, if this is allowed. Often the sawmill operator can help you determine the best way to cut wood the wood in planks for use in furniture and other building needs. If there is no body in your club with this experience it is wise to study the best way to cut a log into planks. The thickness you cut the wood will be determined by whether or not you are going to air dry or kiln dry the wood. As a guideline we suggest cutting planks approximately eight inches wide and two and a half inches thick by six, eight or ten feet long. This will give a green piece of lumber that once dried will shrink to a usable size.
#3 - After the wood has been cut into planks, determine if the wood will be sold green or processed (kiln dried). Clean up the holding yard and prepare to sell the milled wood or haul it to kiln for drying.
#4 - Drying green wood can take days in a heat drying kiln, or weeks in a solar or evaporation drying kiln. Many hardwoods are either air dried naturally, or dried in solar or evaporation kilns that dry the wood slowly, thus helping to reduce twisting of the wood.
#6 - Sell the wood to wood club members, and donate portions of it to local schools and other woodworking programs to help out your community.
We also suggest that the members who work within the wood recovery program be the ones given first right of refusal for purchasing the wood when it is ready to be sold.
REMEMBER - The first time you operate your wood recovery program things may not go as smoothly as you would like, but each time you do this everyone learns how the process works and subsequent events will go much smoother. Nothing good comes without a little effort.