When Hurricane Matthew came through eastern North Carolina in October of 2016, several of the trees on the the stately campus of East Carolina University took a hit. As many of us know, the large trees often are affected by storm damage in ways that are not noticeable until months or years later. This was the case for a large scarlet oak located in a high foot-traffic and parking area of campus. The damaged, leaning tree eventually needed to be removed due to safety concerns.
Gene Stano, ECU's then Grounds Services Supervisor and ISA Certified Arborist, contacted Stephen Jones of Sydney's Sawmill. The plan was to remove the scarlet oak and make use of the large tree's wood in a way that added value, rather than simply passing it along to the landfill. The tree was removed (Jones pictured in photo 1 above), cut in half vertically, and examined for major defects (Stano pictured in photo 2). With the the help of a planer mill with the capacity to mill trees with diameter up to 67 inches wide, Jones and Sydney's Sawmill went to work to create useful, beautiful products for a good cause.
After recently completing a beautiful pavilion on the grounds of Vidant Inpatient Hospice House in Greenville, the staff at Sydney's Sawmill saw an opportunity to incorporate the ECU scarlet oak into functional yet aesthetically pleasing furniture.
The crew dried, milled, constructed, and finished four tables with accompanying benches. All of the tables
are solid wood, double live-edge, and all one piece with widths of 38-46 inches wide (see photos 3 and 4).
To accompany the pavilion and picnic tables, the Sawmill also created 6 garden benches from a deodar cedar which had fallen on an ECU residence hall. All of these projects and more can be enjoyed through the extensive collection of photos and urban wood project descriptions on the Sydney's Sawmill Facebook page
Stephen Jones first got started with milling and finishing urban wood after Hurricane Irene struck eastern NC back in 2011. Although many storm-damaged trees are torn apart in a way that keeps their wood from being useful, he adds that much can be salvaged and diverted from the landfill with an ability, and machinery, to create value-added products for consumers or, in the case of the Vidant House, for others to use and enjoy.