Virginia Urban Wood Group
News & Updates
July 8, 2021 | Issue-8
Summertime and the Livin's Easy.....

Welcome to the eighth edition of the Virginia Urban Wood Group's newsletter! Our planned schedule is to offer this newsletter every other month.

The COVID crisis may finally be under control, social distancing requirements have eased and the hopefully masking will become a mere memory for most folks. It is time to go outside, gather for extended family picnics and enjoy all that summer has to offer! This issue is dedicated to outdoor recreation made more enjoyable by urbane and local wood products!

We hope that you find this newsletter useful and enjoyable!

Joe Lehnen
VA Dept of Forestry
Urban Wood Program Coordinator
Building Furniture for Outdoor Use
Using Wood Outdoors!

In this issue we explore the use of urban and local woods for outdoor use! There are many applications for the outdoor use of wood - building backyard furniture, municipal park uses and creating your own silva stove! We will also look at the Japanese preservation process known as Shou Sugi ban!
All photos by Tidd's Timberworks
Replacement Guardrails for the Mill Mountain Zoo Road - Roanoke, VA
Photo by: William West, Roanoke
Shou sugi ban bench
Black's Run Greenway. Harrisonburg, VA
Shou sugi ban siding
Photo credit: reSawn Timber Co.

Make a Solva Stove

Looking for a fun project with the kids this summer? Maybe even a new commercial adventure! Solva stoves, also known as Swedish candles, are fun and easy to make and have many outdoor applications.

The Swedish candle has a very interesting history. This simple log candle helped to keep Swedish soldiers warm and also cooked their food in the 17th Century during the Thirty Years’ War which lasted from 1618-1648.
 There are many online directions for making your own Swedish Candle, here is one of the better versions:

Also, here is the link to a great video for lighting a Swedish Candle:

Tidd's Timberworks
Fort Valley, VA
Jeff Tidd has been creating out door furniture for many years. In this article he shares his words of wisdom on the types of wood he uses and how to make outdoor furniture last.

I make several types of outdoor furniture. The best seller is the hardwood Adirondack chairs using white oak. However, I have also used ash, walnut, cherry, and maple.

I also refurbish cast iron park benches using white oak or cedar. My favorite are the ones with flat, one-piece backs that allow me to use the wider boards that I get off my mill. 

I have been using Olympic deck stains as a wood preservative and my personal chairs have held up well for six years now.
In the top photo is a fully assembled Adirondack chair on my left and most of the parts for another chair on my right. Each chair is approximately 20 board foot of lumber. My dog, Hankerchief, is sitting on a refurbished bench using white oak with a whitetail and a wild turkey laser engraved onto the back. Also pictured are other Adirondack chairs in various stages of assembly. 
All of the wood in this photo came from Washington, DC or Arlington and none of it was taken down for its lumber value 

For more information about Jeff Tidd's business or to contact him with questions, please visit their Facebook page >>


City of Roanoke
St. Pierre
Woodworking & Sawmill

The City of Roanoke and Bill St. Pierre (St. Pierre Woodworking & Sawmill) are collaborating on a project to replace the wooden guardrail along the road leading up to the Mill Mountain Zoo. The present guardrail, which was installed in the mid-1960's, continues deteriorating with each passing year.

The new replacement guardrails are being made of oak from trees that have reached the end of their biological lives and need to be removed from the city's urban forest. The new oak guard rails are 6 x 8 inches and 10 feet long. The present stock is being air dried until enough guard rails are ready to begin the 1400 foot long replacement project. A sealant will be applied to the new oak guardrails to help preserve them against elements. According to William West, "The new guard rail system will be based on a design similar to what is found along the Blue Ridge Parkway".

Check out the websites of these two great collaborators >>


Shou Sugi Ban

 The words themselves are attention grabbers! When you see the treated wood product you will be even more amazed!

Shou sugi ban is also known as Yakisugi was traditionally used on a Japanese cedar known as Sugi wood. The process involved charring the wood with a very hot flame, cooling it, cleaning off any soot or burnt debris on the surface, and finally finishing the boards with an oil. The unique black tones in the wood that are created by this process has made this one of the hottest trends in architecture. Typically shou sugi ban treated wood is used for exterior applications such as siding, fencing, decking and benches. Some of the more unique applications includes the siding for an entire house!

Not all woods are created equal in their responses to this charring. Some of the best performers include spruce, pine, larch and western cedar. In Virginia it has been used effectively on both ash and oak.

The idea of torching all the wood needed for a large project or even a house may seem to be a somewhat daunting task. Fear not, for shou sugi ban treated wood is commercially available! A quick Google search will lead you to many providers of this unique wood product, some of them even located here in Virginia!

The shou sugi ban bench, pictured on the left, was made by a local wood crafter, Brad Wroblewski of Knoched-VA located in Crimora, VA.

For more details on the shou sugi ban method of wood preservation, visit either of the following websites:

Photo credit: Backwoods Home Magazine


Many thanks to Trees Virginia (Virginia's Urban Forest Council) for hosting this newsletter and allowing access to their Constant Contact platform!
The Virginia Urban Wood Program is supported by the Virginia Department of Forestry and a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region.

The Marketing Corner

Update Your Website!

When was the last time that you looked at your website? If it takes you a while to remember, or you truly cannot recall when you last visited your window to the world, you should do it today! You might actually be shocked by the amount of outdated information: pictures of products that you no longer make, pics of partners who have left the business, and contact information that leads potential customers to nowhere land!

Usually website updating is not too onerous a chore unless you list all of your product pricing online. It can be as easy as making certain all of the information is accurate, changing out a few pictures and presto, you are good to go for a few more months.

It is also worthwhile to have a "What's New!" section, boldly announced, front and center, on the opening page of your website. People are drawn to "What's New" with your company, your products, where you might be doing a show. In fact, it is often the first place they will spend some time looking at the content.

As noted earlier, your company's website is your window to the world of potential customers! Think of it as a storefront window that people are looking into. You do not want them to be turned off by outdated material or seeing the same pics each time they visit. Remember what we said last month - you have 10 seconds, that's right, TEN seconds to convince the average online viewer that they want to see more of what you have to offer.