Since early in 2007 I have been working on sourcing the lumber for my furniture from forests that I can be confident are responsibly managed. With my raising awareness of the climate change crisis and the role that trees and forests have in helping to mitigate this I think it is the only responsible thing to do.
My current sources for lumber, in order of preference are:
Sustainably Harvested Vermont Lumber
In January of 2008 I learned about a Vermont lumber company that is selling lumber that has been harvested, sawed, and dried in Vermont. This lumber comes from forests that are in the State of Vermont's Current Use program. This program gives Vermont landowners property tax breaks if they enroll their agricultural land and forests in the program. Forests enrolled in the program must follow accepted forestry guidlines for sustainable management. I think this is the most responsible source that I can have for the wood used in my furniture. The local nature of it means that there is minimal transportation involved which is a big plus. The only disadvantage is that cherry, the wood I use most, does not grow as abundantly in Vermont as it does in other states such as Pennsylvania. However, there is some very nice cherry in Vermont and maple, oak and ash are readily available. The modular file cabinet shown on my website was built from Vermont cherry with Vermont ash drawer boxes. Vermont lumber is currently my first choice for the lumber used in my furniture.
If I can not get what I need from Vermont lumber my next second choice is certified lumber. There are several worldwide organizations that have been formed to certify that logging operations and forests are being managed responsibly and the wood harvested from these forest is said to be "certified" . I have been purchasing some certified wood since about 2004 simple because one of my suppliers happened to stock only certified cherry. Since the beginning of 2007 I have attempted to purchase all of my lumber from certified sources. Unfortunately, the species and thickness of lumber I need is not always available when I need it and I can only afford to keep a limited amount of lumber in stock.
Traditional Lumber Sources
When neither Vermont nor certified lumber is available for what I need I will use lumber that is not certified. Just because lumber is not "certified" does not mean that it has not come from a forest that is responsibly managed. It just means that it has not been certified to have come from a responsibly managed forest. Because of the paperwork and regulations involved in getting forests and lumber certified and the limited demand (until recently) for certified lumber, many lumber companies have not seen the need to bother with certification. Hopefully, as consumer demand for certifed lumber increases these companies will find that it is worth the extra effort to sell certified lumber.
My Report Card
Since the beginning of 2007 I have tracked my lumber sources. Here are the results to date given in percent of lumber purchased (by volume):
Tracking the wood used in your furniture
When we build a piece of furniture we record the amount of each type of lumber used and its source. If you would like this information please let us know and we'll email you the final tally when your order is completed. If you would prefer to use only a particular source of wood let us know that when you place your order. Depending on what wood we have in stock and the availability of the wood your order requires there may be an extra charge for this. If there is an extra charge we will let you know before beginning work on your furniture.
Forest to Furniture
In 2010 a May windstorm knock down about an acre of trees on our land. The photo gallery below shows the progression from trees in the forest to a finished piece of furniture.