I was perusing photos of old projects this week, and I realized that I have been fortunate to work with a number of really interesting and unique projects. We mostly sell flooring and lumber for furniture, so these projects stand out not only because they are unique, but because they are a departure from the norm, and were a ton of fun to work on. So in the interest of lightening up the blog after three installments of fairly heady material, for your Wednesday afternoon reading pleasure, here is a showcase of some of the more unusual projects that we have worked with over the years.
Lets start with the Oak tree inside of a house. This was a collaboration with architect Ernie Munch, and involved placing a branching Oak tree in the center of a home he had designed. The homeowners came out to the forest and we spent a long morning looking for just the perfect tree, with the right branch structure that would integrate into the very complicated roof angles of the home. They finally chose a tree that fit their requirements, and was crowding out some other more vigorous oaks. I cut it down, peeled the bark off, and delivered it to the job site, where it was lowered into the house through a hole in the roof.
The next project in our showcase was for the oil industry in Houston. While I normally work really hard to distance myself from anything to do with fossil fuels, let alone oil exploration in the gulf, this project was different. A machinery testing lab had a unique situation on their hands, where they had to test high pressure underwater drilling equipment. In order to simulate the working conditions for the test, the test room was a shipping container filled with pressurized seawater. A second consideration was the safety of the testing crew. If and when this machinery failed in the test, it would literally explode like a bomb, sending shrapnel flying in all directions. The container had to be reinforced to withstand the impact. This is where Zena Forest Products comes in. The customer came all the way to us, looking for Oregon White Oak, because of its extraordinary strength and impact resistance. The whole container was lined with 4" thick Oak blocks. Next time you need to build a bomb shelter, just look in your own backyard.
This next project involves a very large old growth fir tree that had grown on a hilltop in the Willamette Valley. The tree had fallen down about 5 years ago, and the property owner was in the process of building a house on the site. They decided to use lumber from the fir tree in their new home. The plan was to have one room dedicated to the fir. The floor, ceiling, cabinetry, and desk were all made from lumber from this tree. The log was so large that it had to be cut into 8 pieces before we could fit it on the mill. We sliced off a couple thin rounds from the end of the tree first, and then inlaid one of these rounds into the floor. The result was nothing short of amazing.
When the architects from Zimmer Gunsul Frasca designed the John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes, they needed some really big blocks of wood for some extraordinarily heavy outdoor benches. These benches had to be 14"x26"x10' long. To put this in perspective, these blocks of wood weigh about one ton each, and need to come from logs with a minimum diameter of 36". There are very few Oak trees out there that meet these requirements, and even fewer that should be cut down. Luckily, we had a few trees from a Habitat for Humanity housing project in Salem that met the requirements.
This project is still shrouded in a bit of mystery, but it is too cool not to mention here. In the fall of 2012, we got a request for 250 small diameter poles with the bark still on. These were going to be used as decorations during a holiday event at Adidas headquarters in Portland. We were easily able to find enough poles left over from a recent thinning project, and we delivered them to Portland. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any pictures of the finished product. I am still holding out hope that some took photos of what must have been an absolutely amazing installation.
This last project is the result of a collaboration between Wandering Aengus Ciderworks and Zena Forest Products. They had just launched Anthem, their new line of ciders, and were in need of tap handles to go with the kegs that they were selling all across the country. I had big pile of scrap wood left over from various projects, and together, we started cranking out tap handles. So next time you order a pint of Anthem Cider, check out the tap handle. It probably came from Zena.
And last but not least., speaking of tap handles, we also got a chance to work on the tap handles for the Timbers Stadium. You can see a video about the process here. They needed a kiln to dry all of the blanks, and we had space in ours at the right time.