July 30, 2013

Custom or standard, our butcher block is a quick and easy solution for your countertop needs


Ever since we introduced our line of hardwood butcher blocks last fall, they've been flying out the warehouse and into homes and businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest.

And it's no wonder! They're available quickly and easily, in standard stocked sizes or in custom dimensions to suit your unique project.   Plus these countertops are as eco-friendly as they come: They're made from locally-harvested wood that is either FSC certified or comes from salvaged sources.

Quick and easy: Our in-stock butcher block is available in five different local, sustainable wood options and is sized to fit a standard kitchen cabinet.

Super affordable pricing: Contact us for current pricing.

High quality: Our butcher block is built to last with kiln-dried hardwood and is glued up with FDA-approved, non-formaldehyde adhesives. 

In-stock sizes: 1 1/2" x 26 1/2" x lengths 48" to 120"

Photo at top: FSC Big Leaf Maple shows off tasty pastries at Miss Zumstein's in Portland.
Photos at bottom: FSC Big Leaf Maple was customized for this retail space; an extra-long madrone slab adds a warm touch to this restaurant bar.

July 09, 2013

Cellar Ridge pioneers creative uses for juniper

By Tamra

Cellar Ridge Construction, the McMinnville-based custom home builder, is a big fan of juniper.  They've used it for a number of unique applications, giving their finished projects a distinctive look and the decades of durability that this rot-resistant wood promises.

Earlier this year, a homeowner transforming her patio wanted something distinctive and slightly rustic that would help her property visually tie into the wooded parkland behind her home.  Naturally, Cellar Ridge chose juniper for the decking, siding, structural timbers, and raised beds.

For a LEED Platinum remodel completed last year in Dundee, Cellar Ridge used massive juniper beams to add authenticity and attitute to the Mediterranean-style home. The juniper lends an incomparable look to the home, especially with its dramatic dark stain.

Photo at Top: Juniper is used for the decking, raised beds, siding, hand rails, and structural supports of this welcoming patio in McMinnville.

Photo at Bottom: Juniper beams frame the entrance and enhance the eaves on this charming Mediterranean casa in Dundee.















July 03, 2013

A special partnership provides exceptional FSC lumber


Though we are supportive of all our local Forest Stewardship Council certified businesses, we feel that those who were FSC certified "before certification was cool" deserve special mention. The Collins Companies has been based in Portland since 1918. Operating 4 mills in the Pacific Northwest, this family-owned company has been an important member of our community for generations.  
Their commitment to place is matched by their commitment to sustainability: The Collins forests began implementing advanced sustainability practices nearly 100 years ago, and 20 years ago their forest and mill in Chester, CA became the very first to achieve FSC certification in North America.

The management of their forests has earned Collins accolades from groups including the Sierra Club, and the forests continue to provide habitat for a diverse number of species including Chinook salmon, black bears, beavers, mink and marmots, and many kinds of birds, reptiles and amphibians.  

Like an oenophile waiting for special vintages, Sustainable Northwest Wood snatches up Douglas Fir lumber from Collins mills as often as we can.

The load of beautiful wane-free "Appearance Grade" lumber that just arrived at our warehouse demonstrates that quality, sustainability, and fair pricing can all come in the same package.

This month we're pleased to announce that our FSC lumber priced are considerably lower than the highs hit earlier this year.  Be sure to contact us about bidding your next project with FSC wood!

Photo at top: Collins' Almanor forest is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species.

Photo at right: The Collins lumber mill in Chester, CA sits on the shore of Lake Almanor. This mill and the forest that surrounds it were the first to achieve FSC certification in North America.

April 11, 2013

Collaborative restoration rebuilds the forests of the Pacific Northwest


Our forest lands are caught in the middle of an epic struggle.  Demand for forest products is perpetually increasing, fueled by global market pressures and the thirst for economic growth and the jobs and prosperity it brings. At the same time, dedicated conservation groups are working harder than ever to protect fragile forest lands from potentially harmful harvest activities.

This discord frequently bubbles up in the public discourse, as proposals for new harvests are made and then lawsuits filed to prevent their execution, in an expensive and taxing process that ties up the legal system and breeds ill will between different groups of citizens.

Meanwhile, the forests of the American West continue to suffer. Decades of intensive logging practices and fire suppression, coupled with massive outbreaks of infestations and disease, have left vast tracts of forest unhealthy, overcrowded, undernourished, and at risk of exploding into flame at the first suggestion of a spark

(Photo at left: The mountain pine beetle has killed the majority of trees near Gearhart Mountain in southern Oregon, putting the area at risk for a major fire. Photo from

As our parent non-profit Sustainable Northwest has shown, there is a perfect solution that addresses all of these problems, with results that please all participating parties: Collaborative restoration.

Collaborative restoration brings industry, environmental groups, and local and federal government officials to the same table to work out solutions that benefit all of the stakeholders while improving forest health.  It sounds like a tall order, but it can be done -- and is being done, thanks to the dedication of Sustainable Northwest.

An example of the success of collaborative restoration can be seen in Grant County, Oregon.  Grant County used to support four sawmills, but as the economy contracted in the 80's and as the timber in Malheur National Forest became harder to procure due to increasing environmental pressures, three of those mills closed and hundreds of local families were left without jobs or a reliable income.  

(Photo at right: Sustainable Northwest staffers meet with members of the Blue Mountain Forest Partners to discuss forest restoration.)

In 2006, Sustainable Northwest stepped in and helped found the Blue Mountain Forest Partners, which consists of representatives from the remaining mill; environmental lawyers and non-profits that had previously filed suit against the Forest Service to prevent additional harvests; foresters from the Forest Service; local government officials; and other interested individuals. 

Together, these disparate groups worked together to draft a plan to restore forest health, reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire while allowing some logs to be harvested to feed the mill.

Because of the collaborative's work, no lawsuits have been filed in 6 years.  The restoration work has resulted in significantly improved forest health in the areas in which it has been done, and planned restoration work is growing to tens of thousands of acres in the coming years.  And the local mill has been able to stay open and provide jobs for many families in Grant County.  

The group has been heralded as a model for other regions, and its success has garnered the attention of Senators Wyden and Merkley, who have pledged support for collaborative restoration projects.

(Photo at left: Strawberry Lake in Malheur National Forest attracts many visitors each year and is home to a rich variety of animal and plant life.)

As Sustainable Northwest's president Martin Goebel says, "We must help timber communities flourish to restore the health and resilience of forests, watersheds and wildlife habitats. We all reap the 'harvest' from forest health--clean air, water, abundant wildlife and landscapes that define our love of place."

March 05, 2013

How do I find FSC certified wood products or lumber?


As more people learn about the benefits of FSC certified wood and seek to use it in their projects, we field questions from around the country about where to find these products. 

Whether you're a homeowner in central Florida or a cabinet maker in Queens, it can sometimes be a challenge to source the FSC wood you want -- or need -- to use in your project.

Rest assured, FSC certified alternatives do exist and can be found.  Here are some ways you can track them down in your area:

FSC provides a handy tool to help you search for certified products in your area.  Called the Marketplace, this handy tool is still in development, so if you can't find what you're looking for on this website, don't despair, it my still be available.  Here's the link:

The best tool might be right at your finger tips: A great way to find FSC products is to perform a Google search with area- or product-specific targeted keywords, i.e. "FSC lumber Orlando" or "FSC hardwood plywood."

The DIY set can inquire at their local Home Depot, which has been working with FSC certified products since the 90's. In most stores, their FSC offering is somewhat limited, so be sure to look for the trademark FSC logo.

Shoppers in the Bay Area can refer to the local Sierra Club chapter's handy FSC shopping guide.

Many locally-owned, independent lumber yards also can procure FSC wood, even if they don't stock it. So be sure to ask the sales staff for FSC, and be persistent in your queries. The more that folks like you demand FSC, the more it will be available across the country!

February 28, 2013

What is the best wood to use for raised garden beds?


Families across America are reintegrating home gardens into their lives, working to increase the amounts of health-giving homegrown fruits and vegetables in their diets. Because of this, folks frequently ask us about the best type of wood to use for their planter boxes and raised garden beds. 

Raised beds are a great idea because they protect growing plants from the scuffs and kicks of passersby while allowing the soil to warm faster in the springtime, generating an earlier crop.  They're also quite decorative and can add significant charm to vegetable gardens.

By building the boxes out of a beautiful, durable, and chemical-free material, you'll take an important step toward guaranteeing that your yard bears many decades of abundant and nourishing crops. (Click here for plans for easy-to-build, affordable juniper raised beds, and here for a Pinterest gallery of ideas.)

Here are the types of wood that are commonly used for this purpose, and the pros and cons of each:

The lifespan data above is derived in part from an ongoing study at OSU that tracks the durability of treated and untreated posts in ground-contact applications. Click here for full results.

Photo at top: Juniper 6x6 landscaping timbers used for retaining wall, raised beds, and stairs

February 18, 2013

Charred cedar: longer lifespan and dramatic color


When most folks embark on a building project, deliberately setting the wood on fire doesn't immediately come to mind as a brilliant move.

But when the desired outcome is a significantly extended lifespan, lighting the wood on fire is a great idea!

The technique has been around for centuries. Known in Japan as shou sugi ban, this style of finishing wood can extend the life of your cedar siding by many decades -- up to 80 years in exposed applications.  

It also looks beautiful and provides a dramatic contrasting color to an otherwise predictable installation, with none of the added chemicals or annual re-application needed with a stain.

The projects shown in these photos use our FSC Western Red Cedar.  The technique can be applied to other wood species as well, such as Douglas and others with a distinctive grain pattern.  Check out how Pioneer Millwork applied shou sugi ban to oak.

 For more inspiration, check out these photos on Pinterest, and read architect Michelle Jeresek's post on Houzz to see how to do it.   

January 24, 2013

For the love of live-edge slabs


One enduring design trend that we love is the live-edge slab. As individual as the tree that yielded it, this natural cut of wood retains the unique lines of the trunk along one or two edges, giving each finished piece a completely one-of-a-kind profile.

While people have certainly been using slabs of wood as work surfaces for millennia, the modern live-edge look dates back to the 1940's, when famed furniture designer George Nakashima first introduced it in his collection for Knoll.  His passion for nature is clearly expressed in the highlighting of the uniqueness of each piece of wood.

These days, live-edge is commonly used for dining and conference tables, coffee and console tables, bar tops, reception desks, and some positively dreamy headboards. While it is often executed in a rustic way, the organic element of the wild edge provides relief from the hard materials commonly used in modern design. It pairs especially well with bare concrete and helps soften the lines in a harshly linear space.

We keep live-edge slabs in stock in Portland, ready to be transformed into your work of art. Click here for the available species.  We also have more photos of recent installations posted on our gallery.

January 03, 2013

Fresh from the mill: Walnut Butcher Block


Brand new this week: Walnut butcher block made from locally salvaged hardwood.  These slabs feature exceptionally rich color, interesting grain patterns, and decades of performance!

Slabs are available in 6' and 8' lengths. They are sized to fit standard kitchen cabinetry: 26 1/2" deep and 1 1/2" thick.

This butcher block is made with FDA-approved adhesives that contain no added urea formaldehyde.  Slabs are unfinished and are designed to be cut and installed on-site following a one-week period of acclimation.

We recommend a food-safe natural oil, such as linseed. Walnut oil is also a good--and quite apt--choice!

Also talk to us about custom sizes and patterns for your unique projects!   

December 26, 2012

This Living Building house more than meets the challenge to use local, FSC wood


When builder James Arnold was discussing ideas for a custom home in Southwest Portland, he was overjoyed by his client's excitement to go for the Living Building Challenge.

The Challenge is a strict rating system that leaps far beyond LEED in its requirements for non-toxic, locally sourced materials for every component of the building. One of the standards for the Challenge is that all of the wood in the space must be either reclaimed or FSC certified, and it must all be sourced from within 200 miles of the job site.

James and his crew at JRA Green Building Construction knew all he had to do to meet this standard was reach out to Sustainable Northwest Wood and we could outfit the house with all the local, FSC wood he'd need.

And we did! From the framing lumber and plywood to the hardwood flooring and cabinetry, every piece of wood in this house was sourced from our network of small mills and meets the stringent criteria of the Living Building Challenge.
For the interior finishes, the builder and homeowner chose FSC Big Leaf Maple, which we custom-milled into flooring, trim, and architectural panels for the cabinetry and interior doors. We especially love the show-stopping floating staircase, custom crafted from maple (see photos below).
The home also features FSC Western Red Cedar decking and siding, which add a natural touch to its clean, modern lines.

The home was designed by Michelle Jeresek at Departure Design. In addition to its beautiful lines and functional space, it is net zero water and energy: It generates all of its own electricity through its solar panels and passive solar design, and all of its water through an advanced rainwater harvesting system.