Wednesday, March 05, 2014

compare and contrast: senseless destruction, purposeful creation

The photo comes courtesy of Dogwood Alliance. and shows "Enviva logging site in Northampton, NC. Sites like these are Ground Zero for the destructive rush towards unsustainable biomass energy."

The trees stacked at roadside represent thousands of acres of American forests stripped barren of natural forest growth. This mountain of material will be chipped, pelletized and burned for power and heat in Europe. The assumption of biomass energy is that once forests are cut, they will grow back given enough time, and so it is considered "green energy" and "renewable" by those who are dead from the neck down.

This level of stupidity can't be blamed on the lack of woodworking education in schools, but that we have schools that foster complaisance and allow kids to be out of touch with nature, creates a culture in which money drives all and our natural environment is available for corporate plunder. Anyone who is not disgusted with this would most surely be an example of finger-blindness, in which all reasonable cultural values are distorted by failure in the engagement of the hands in learning and creating.

We have had no school at all this week due to a snow storm that hit on Sunday night. In addition to heavy snow, severe cold has keep the snow and ice on the streets and roads longer than is usuall for Arkansas.

I've been working on an article for American Woodworker, and have nearly arrived at the assembly point in making a rather large box for silver, and the photo  shows sanding the curved surfaces for the front of the box.

On another front, I had an interesting conversation with a wood shop teacher yesterday who is has been teaching box making. His administration puts serious limits on student use of power tool, particularly the table saw. His 100+ students love box making, and he asked if I could help with a box design that could be completed by students using the band saw and drill press to form the joints.
This is a design that could work.The holes are drilled after the box is assembled and are for 3/16 in. dowels to lock the joint.

On another box making note, Fine Woodworking is giving away two copies of the new book-a-zine featuring wooden boxes done by fellow Taunton author, Strother Purdy and me. Each copy is signed by each of us. Go to this link and leave a comment. Every comment left on the FWW blog post has a chance to win.

Make, fix and create... then teach others what they can do.


  1. In Denmark chipping of forests is one of the few ways the owner of a forest is able to make just a little money, but as far as I have understood, the normal way is to reduce the number of trees to provide better growth possibilities for the remaining ones. What you reduce you chip.
    When you need to take down the large final trees, the top will be chipped since it won't make good lumber.
    But harvesting entire plantations you need to make sure that the species are really fast growing. It could be either willow or poplar (I don't know if the European version is the same as yours).
    Regarding the use of table saws in shop class. Does the individual school make the rules as to at what age students can use which power tools, or is it state legislation?
    In Denmark you can use an electric stationary jigsaw (like a Hegner) from the fourth grade, a random orbit sander can also be used.

    from the eight grade you may use a lathe. But you can never use either a band saw nor a table saw in grammar school (0-10th grade).


  2. In Australia we have had huge protests in the past over wood chipping and finally some people bought the wood chip mill and shut it down. As for education, I'm a pre-service teacher in design and technology, which encompasses woodwork. at the schools I have seen so far the table saw is the preserve of the teacher alone, students are not taught that their safety is their responsibility and if you do try and teach them that then some lawyer or other is bound to sue you over duty of care. In industry the band saw takes many more fingers then any other tool, but students are allowed to use that, it's a strange situation.