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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.
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.
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.