Blog

July 03, 2017

Introducing FSC Port Orford Cedar

By KC Eisenberg

Sustainable Northwest Wood is proud to announce the newest species in our family of wood products: Port Orford Cedar.

Port Orford Cedar is a native evergreen that grows only in the coastal mountains of Southern Oregon and Northern California. It is renowned for its strength, stability, and structural integrity. Ours is sourced exclusively through Walker Creek Ecoforestry, an intentional living community near Coquille, Oregon. This community consists of 365 forested acres that comprise two-thirds of the Walker Creek watershed. It is protected under a conservation easement with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and is managed to the exacting standards of the Forest Stewarship Council.

Chip and Jennifer Boggs have been stewards of the property since 1989.  In 2001, a forest plan was written by Jerry Becker of EcoForestry Management, and in 2005 the forestry business was born, selling 1000 board feet of alder logs to a small local mill.  From 2007 to 2014, the Boggses hired local sawyers with portable mills to produce lumber. In 2014 they were able to acquire their own Woodmizer mill, which was an antique contraption dating back to 1989. Partly due to their recent sale of Port Orford Cedar to us, they have just upgraded to a brand new Woodmizer LT35.

Otherwise, Chip notes, the business is not equipment intensive: two saws, a Kubota tractor with a PTO-driven winch, a 16 foot trailer, and a 1984 diesel pickup comprise the Walker Creek “fleet," as he calls it.

Besides being a steady, part-time income for Chip and Jen, the forestry business provides a way to manifest their land conservation ethics and make wood products available to those who share similar ethics. We are very pleased to be working with them for the Port Orford Cedar.

We are currently stocking full dimension, rough Port Orford Cedar in 1x6 and 2x6 dimensions. Lengths are random, 8' to 16'. Custom products including decking and surfaced lumber are available.

Click here to view our Port Orford Cedar webpage and gallery.
May 31, 2017

Project Profile: Campground Blue Pine at Breakside Brewery

By KC Eisenberg

When it comes to Breakside Brewery, the award-winning beer and excellent food are generally all the reasons people need to visit again and again. But at their new Slabtown location in NW Portland, we've got another great reason: The show-stopping Campground Blue Pine in the Pendleton Room.

This private dining and event space was designed to be a modern interpretation of traditional Northwest themes. Pendleton-patterned draperies adorn the floor-to-ceiling windows and custom upholstered dining chairs. The naturally-stained wood was a perfect choice to complement the colors and themes in this space: The wall paneling looks fresh and modern, and the natural wave of the live-edge communal table softens and warms the space.

Our Campground Blue Pine was sourced from beetle-kill and fire-salvage trees in Central and Southern Oregon. We work with small mills, including Malheur Lumber Company in John Day, for this special wood.

Craftsmanship by Clarkbuilt LLC and Mallet PDX.
May 24, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Why Sustainable Northwest Wood is Portland's Most Awesome Lumber Yard

By KC Eisenberg

Here are some of the reasons why Sustainable Northwest Wood is Portland's most rockin' place to buy lumber and wood products:

1. Local and sustainable sourcing - Everything we carry is from the Pacific Northwest and is grown on forests managed to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC) or as part of stewardship programs restoring native ecosystems.  We are 100% committed to sustainable wood -- it is our entire product offering, not just a small percentage of what we carry. 

We also work to shrink the size of our regional "woodshed" (think foodshed but for lumber) and provide products sourced as close to home as possible. This focus allows us to be the premier lumber supplier for Living Building Challenge projects in our region.

2. Support for small sawmills - We are guided by the mission of supporting small mills in rural communities, bolstering sustainable economic development and job creation. By working directly with local mills, we are able to offer our specialty products at highly competitive prices.

3. Convenient inner-city location - Easy access for cars, trucks, and bikes. Come visit us today!

4. Large product selection - From framing timbers to flooring, rustic landscaping timbers to high-quality hardwoods, we've got lumber products for every part of your project. Click here to see our interior finishes, exterior lumber, and framing lumber and plywood.

5. Support a non-profit organization - We're a wholly-owned subsidiary of the conservation non-profit Sustainable Northwest and the first lumberyard to be owned by a non-profit. Sustainable Northwest works throughout the Pacific Northwest to forge collaborative solutions that restore forests, rivers, rangelands, and rural economies. Click here to learn more about their important work.

May 23, 2017

Juniper retaining walls: Long lasting and beautiful design options

By KC Eisenberg

Juniper is an ideal solution for building a wood retaining wall. It is long lasting (30+ years in ground-contact installations), free of chemicals and creosote, and has a beautiful, natural look to it that other types of wood simply cannot offer. Learn more about this wood and the ecosystem restoration projects from which it comes.

Here are some popular styles of juniper retaining walls and the specific lumber dimensions that were used to create them:

Juniper 2x6 stacked and supported with 4x4 vertical posts (photo credit Inner City Farm):


Stacked 6x6 timbers:


Stacked 5x5 timbers paired with decomposed granite:


More ideas for juniper retaining walls can be seen on this Pinterest board

May 15, 2017

Project Profile: Heron Hall

By KC Eisenberg

On a recent trip to the Seattle area, we were treated to a special tour of Heron Hall, the new home of renowned architect Jason McLennan and his family. Located on the southern end of Bainbridge Island and overlooking a scenic inlet on the Puget Sound, this off-grid home uses FSC framing lumber, siding, and decking.

This home was built to the exacting standards of the Living Building Challenge, which demands that projects use wood that is locally-sourced and is either FSC certified or reclaimed. For the FSC framing lumber and plywood that form the structural bones of the home, and the beautiful Western Red Cedar siding and decking that grace the exterior, McLennan and his builder, Smallwood Construction, partnered with Sustainable Northwest Wood.

On the main floor and for the surrounding fences, the cedar siding is being left in its raw, unfinished state to silver naturally over time. On the second floor, McLennan and his builders used a torch to apply the shou sugi ban technique of charring to the cedar to give it a natural, long-lasting black finish.

Click here to read more news coverage of this exceptional project.

Photos, from top: The courtyard of the home showcases the FSC Western Red Cedar siding; a private courtyard is surrounded in cedar; the architect outside his front door; the home reflected in the estuary nearby.


May 11, 2017

Lessons from the front lines: My juniper raised bed project

By KC Eisenberg

There's the old adage about the cobbler's children never having shoes...well, recently my family disproved that ancient fable by building our very own Restoration Juniper raised beds. We're quite pleased with the results! We love the organic, wabi sabi look that juniper provides -- and after such an undertaking, we love that we won't need to rebuild them for a very, very long time. Turns out building raised beds is a lot of hard and heavy work!

We used rough 2x6x10 juniper to build beds that are 4' x 6' rectangles, with 4x4 vertical posts to support and secure the beds. We planned our beds to optimize the yield of the lumber with minimal waste.

We went three boards high, so the beds are 18" above ground. Because of their location along the parking strip of our street, we chose this height to protect the beds from the errant noses and raised legs of passing dogs, but lower heights would work just as well in other locations.

To build the beds, we first trimmed all the lumber to the proper uniform lengths. Next, we attached 2x6 members to two 4x4 posts, then did the same for the opposite end of the bed, and then secured those two sides together with more 2x6, as shown in the photo. The beds got very heavy quickly, so we ended up pre-drilling all of our holes and screwing the lumber together (as shown in photo at left), then removing pieces of the 2x6 sides so that we could move and properly position the beds. Then, once the beds were in their final locations, we re-attached all the 2x6 to the sides.

We also added the decorative cap along the top, complete with carefully mitered corners. My husband really wanted this artistic touch because of the beds' location at the front of our home, and we agree that it completes the look nicely.

To secure the lumber on the sides of the beds, we chose black Headlock screws, which provide a decorative touch that we like. For the caps along the top of the beds, we used wood-toned exterior screws to secure the caps on top so they inconspicuously blend into the wood.

Juniper has a lot of elasticity in the wood, so in a few cases we had to flex the wood back into straight lines and then secure it (see photo at right). Once secured, it stays put. Juniper also holds screws exceptionally well, so it isn't apt to warp over time, as other species can. 

One of the other surprising qualities of the wood was variations in the thickness and widths. Some boards were up to 1/16" thicker than others. We don't feel that this negatively impacts the look of the beds at all, but it was a surprise when we began assembling them. Because of the way the lumber is milled, this is a feature that should be expected; it could be avoided by using surfaced juniper instead.

Here's the finished product. Now to fill them with a thousand pounds of soil...!

April 04, 2017

Fresh Idea for Juniper Timbers: An outdoor patio built with surfaced 6x6

By KC Eisenberg

It's so much fun when a builder sees our lumber as a blank slate, an opportunity for creative transformation. This patio was built with our Restoration Juniper 6x6 rough landscaping timbers -- transformed into amazing decking by surfacing the timbers and artfully finishing the edges and joining them together.

This deck, outside Ankeny Tap & Table in SE Portland, was built by Steel Leaf Design. Says Steel Leaf's owner, Stephen Blum, "We hand-routed all the edges to provide that deck board look. Once we finished sanding the tops of the timber decking, we coated the tops with clear Preserva Wood to help hold the color."  

"Our client was very open to the idea of using a locally sourced material," says Stephen. "Especially when I talked to him about what juniper's negative-to-positive life cycle is, how much damage it does to the eco-system, and how it has such great durability, for an outdoor building material." 

Visit the taproom in person and enjoy your outdoor perch on this bright and innovative patio.





March 09, 2017

Rubio Monocoat now at Sustainable Northwest Wood

By KC Eisenberg

Sustainable Northwest Wood is the new Portland-area dealer of Rubio Monocoat, a zero-VOC, all-natural plant-based wood finish that looks amazing on our wood products. Made from natural plant ingredients, this finish has virtually no odor. 

Flooring installers are encouraged to join us on Saturday, April 8 for a hands-on demonstration of proper floor finish application techniques. This demo is free to attend, but registration is required: Click here to learn more about and register for the demo.

Click here for more information about Rubio Monocoat finishes.

March 01, 2017

The Juniper Story

By KC

As anyone who has ever travelled east of the Cascades knows, juniper is prevalent in Oregon's high desert.  Juniper is an ancient species that has been part of our landscape for millennia, but recently it has seen unprecedented population growth due to human interference with the natural fire cycle that used to keep young juniper trees in check. 

How much population growth?  A lot. Eastern Oregon's juniper has increased from about 1 million acres in the 1930's to more than 6 million acres today.

Juniper's success means additional challenges to the grasses and other plants that compete for space on the desert plains. Not only is there more competition for sunlight, but juniper is a thirsty tree that significantly depletes the groundwater table. The reduction in grasses results in increased erosion, reduced biodiversity, and more difficulty for desert wildlife to find the foraged foods on which they depend for survival.

In an attempt to restore the native grasslands, Eastern Oregon ranchers have for many years cut the trees and burned them, but today Sustainable Northwest and other dedicated groups are working hard to create new markets for the juniper wood to ensure that this useful and beautiful wood is put to use. 

This restoration work helps enable the grasslands to recover and helps keep Eastern Oregon sawmills, an important source of jobs in rural communities, generating income for these communities.  In general, the trees that are cut and milled as part of this restoration work are smaller, younger trees that have sprouted in the years since our fire restriction policies have been formed -- the older, grander trees that predate these policies aren't cut.

Juniper is naturally rot- and decay-resistant, more so than any other native Northwestern species, according to studies by Oregon State University.  It also offers a beautiful rustic aesthetic with warm cream, chocolate, and reddish tones.  Its durability, combined with its beauty and its environmental credentials, make it an excellent choice for decks, garden beds, fencing, and many other uses for homes in the Pacific Northwest. 

Click here to watch an excellent OPB report on juniper and the Eastern Oregon restoration work.

Photo at top: The Cottonwood Creek watershed near Fossil, OR, used to be rolling hills covered in grasses. Today, many acres of juniper woodlands can be seen from this viewpoint
Photos below: The Crooked River National Grassland was designated in the 1960's; since then, it has sprouted a dense juniper forest. The photo at bottom was taken near Burns and shows many infant juniper trees growing on the plains. 


March 01, 2017

Project Profile: Building beautiful casework with basic dimensional lumber

By KC Eisenberg

We're loving this retail space recently completed in Portland by Furnish PDX. They paired our FSC White Fir dimenional lumber with reclaimed barnwood and exposed metalwork for a modern-yet-rustic, warm, and inviting vibe. It's a sign of vision, and no small amount of patience, to build such incredible casework out of basic lumber.

Our FSC White Fir lumber is sourced from Collins forests in Northern California.  

Visit Furnish PDX for more photos of this project.