Did you know?

Acres of Urban Forest in the US
20.9 Million
Number of Trees in Municipal Landscapes
3.8 Billion
Annual Waste from Urban Forests (cubic yards)
200 Million
Potential Usable Lumber (bd ft)
3.8 Billion
Total Hardwood Lumber used Annually (bd ft)
12.6 Billion

Urban Lumber could replace 30% of demand!
Most urban lumber is buried or burned as waste

* Data taken from publication NA-TP-06-01 USDA Forest Service

Tree removal from an urban landscape

What is Urban Wood?

    Urban wood is derived from trees that have grown in an urban setting such as an incorporated town or city. The large number of tree removals in cities and towns across the country becomes necessary for a host of reasons: Storm blowdowns, natural mortality, severe insect and disease damage, construction activities, and many other circumstances can change an urban tree from an asset into a liability. Tree removal is a growing dilemma for most municipalities across the U.S. The number of urban trees needing to be disposed
of is staggering, and is a very costly process for city managers and solid waste disposal operations.
    Hundreds of species of trees grow in various municipalities across the US. These trees often grow to great size and can produce lumber of very high quality and wonderful character. Unfortunately they are very hard to process into lumber. They are of irregular shape and size and the lumber tends to warp and twist as it dries. This is why little effort has been made to utilize urban woods.

Unmatched Beauty

    Urban wood is breathtakingly beautiful. Highly figured sections and burl woods are most often thrown away in commercial logging operations due to the difficulty of handling and drying them. By using urban logs for furniture and cabinetry, these beautiful portions of the log can be preserved and showcased.
    When cutting these logs locally, book matching, butt matching and sequencing become a new aspect of the design of any project.     Urban woods can have a much higher level of color, figure, and character than their commercially available counterparts. What a terrible waste to bury or to burn this precious resource!

Environmental Implications

    The concept of using urban wood is timely in today's climate of environmental awareness. When trees from the local urban landscape are used, it not only reduces land fill content, but as a lumber source it has a very small "carbon footprint". Instead of using hardwoods that are harvested thousands of miles away and often on other continents, urban trees can be collected, milled, dried and processed locally. Each tree that is recycled from the urban landscape equates to one
less tree that must be harvested from the forests of the world.     When trees come down, they need not become waste! These trees can be "rescued" and given a new life as a piece of heirloom furniture or some other wood product. This resource is local, it is sustainable, it helps to conserve national forest resources, and it is uniquely beautiful. This approach to woodworking is a return to a mindset and an ethic of an earlier era when our predecessors were more self
sufficient by using local resources. If they needed a barn they cleared land and milled the lumber locally. We as a society must reconsider this mindset and ethic as a means to solve many of the pressing environmental issues of the day. In short, what's not to like about a product that lowers our collective energy consumption and carbon footprint and that is beautiful, local and sustainable?
The tree from the previous image is loaded
and ready for transport

The log yard at Homestead Cabinet and Furniture
Urban logs are collected and milled here

Using Urban Woods

    While it is true that processing Urban wood into "value added" products presents some difficult challenges, it is also true that these challenges can be overcome. The wood by its nature must be processed on a small scale with a particular product or application in mind. It must be dried slowly and in a carefully controlled manner. It is not conducive to mass production.
    Homestead Cabinet and Furniture is among several companies that are beginning to use urban woods to make a variety of products. Homestead has a long history of using other types of reclaimed woods such as barn wood. The processing of urban woods uses many of the same skills and machinery as other reclaimed woods.
    An abundance of large trees grow in the cities and towns of Northern Utah. Homestead works with tree removal companies, saw mill operators, kiln operators and other wood product manufacturers to acquire saw logs, slabs and dried lumber. Tree removal companies are contracted to bring selected logs to the mill at Homestead. The logs are milled into slabs or into lumber. From thence they become heirloom furniture and cabinetry
Milling lumber and slabs from an elm log
Large elm slabs with high figure. Dried and ready for table production.

Please visit heirloom woods for some urban salvage projects we have done.