Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mosquito Hawks And Other Louisiana Creepy-Crawlies

Blogger's Note: As a small child I came across many strange creatures in my travels through the woods in our backyard, but nothing was quite as mysterious ... and fascinating as the Mosquito Hawk.  With the legs of a Daddy Long-legs and the wings of an overgrown mosquito, it always gives the viewer a "What is it?" moment upon first viewing.  One local reporter felt the mystery of the Mosquito Hawk was intriguing enough to get to the bottom of it, and dispelling some common myths about the fabled creature.
  

(Above): Are those giant mosquitoes? No. Mosquito hawks? No.

From the WWL - AM870 website article
written by Jim Hanzo:


You may have noticed, what you thought were large mosquitoes buzzing around your yard.   What are these large mosquito-looking insects anyway?

They sure look like mosquitoes, but they're not.

"They are crane flies, they're not mosquitoes, and they're in a totally different family of flies,"  said Dr. Dennis Ring, extension entomologist with the LSU Agriculture Center.  "This is the time when the adults emerge, mate, lay eggs and continue the next generation."

He says crane flies are completely harmless.

"The larvae feed on plant material and the adults may not even eat, but if they do it's going to be on plant material too.  They certainly don't bite humans, mainly just a nuisance because they're around," said Dr. Ring.

And how long will crane flies hang around our yards?

"They should be gone in a few weeks," he noted.

Common names for crane flies include jimmy spinners, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters, mosquito nippers, gollywhoppers and gallinippers. Although they are known as daddy long legs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, they are not at all similar to the arachnid that goes by the same name in the United States.

Contrary to common belief, experts also say crane flies do not eat mosquitoes. In fact, they generally don't eat anything... they just reproduce and die.

They have only one purpose, to mate and lay eggs. Crane fly larvae eat plants.

The American Mosquito Control Association says, "They do not eat mosquitoes."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

About A House: Building One Of The First Sustainable Homes In The US

Blogger's Note:  We recently sat down with sustainable building expert Richard Woods, CEO of Albany Woodworks, to see what inspired him to build a green home for his family nearly 40 years ago.

 

(Above): Richard built his home from quality re-purposed and recycled building materials four decades ago at a time when using new man-made products like carpet and vinyl siding was the norm. 

Richard, tell us about your current home and what led you to build green in a time when most people were not yet fully aware of the numerous benefits of sustainable building. 

Richard: The story of my house, is the story of my life.  Before our children were born my lovely wife Judith and I bought 20 acres of pine forest on a river in Southern Louisiana.  We loved the natural splendor of the property, far from the city and untouched by development.  So when it was time to add a house to the property, Judith and I felt it should fit in with the natural beauty and charm of it's surroundings.  To achieve the natural look we were going for, we decided to utilize as many recycled materials as possible in building a home for the family we hoped to soon raise.

In the early days of building our home, before we grew into the 10,000 sqft. manufacturing facility Albany Woodworks is today, would have "crowbar and hammer" parties with our friends would come and help "clean" the wood for our home.  We began by gathering materials including wood that was going to be sent to the landfill from the demolition site of a 150 year old barn.  Next Judith and I found a book that was very informative to our building process, Design With Climate by Victor Olgyay. This helped us devise an overall concept for our home and gave us a great starting point.

For our southern locale it was recommended that we make use of any existing natural shade provided by our beautiful wooded property. We integrated an open floor plan with the center of the home designed as a vaulted column to vent the heat and used wide over hanging eves to help shade the walls. We chose metal as the best roofing for our location, and than began the long process of building and then expanding as our project budget would allow.  We made a decision to not borrow any money to build the house so the project was in one phase or another for twelve years before it was completed. 


(Above): An interior view of Richard's home.  The theme of sustainability continues throughout with re-purposed windows, simply turned on the angle to become a diamond-shaped focal point to the design and reclaimed antique heart pine and cypress are utilized here for for solid wood flooring and architectural details.
 
In this process Judith and I learned many new skills including how to best utilize old lumber, which I believe is the most beautiful design element in our home. We were surprised when people loved our house just as much as we do!  Guests to our home began saying that they really liked the look of our house and wished they could use antique building materials in their home. With children on the way, and needing a more substantial income, Judith and I decided to start a business recycling, refurbishing, and constructing products, mostly furniture, from old growth "antique" cypress and heart pine.

That was 38 years ago.  Since then, not only did Judith and I raise our family in this beautiful sustainable home, we also started a business of providing this same high-quality antique lumber to customers for their homes and businesses.  We of course didn't know it at the time but this was the birth of a green movement that is now world-wide and it started, in part, in our own backyard.  We still love our "antique" house,  it's unique beauty was the inspiration for us to open Albany Woodworks, which we feel blessed to share with our family, friends, and community.   

Monday, March 23, 2015

How To Improve Indoor Air Quality


(Above): Natural reclaimed lumber from Albany Woodworks is a great choice for your home or business.  Improve indoor air quality with our environmentally friendly options.  Visit the Albany Woodworks website for more information: http://www.albanywoodworks.com/

From the HGTV website article Natural and Recycled Flooring Materials:
Natural and recycled flooring materials can be as beautiful, comfortable, durable and livable as their more traditional counterparts. And best of all, natural and recycled materials are better for the environment because they're made from clean, renewable sources and reuse materials that otherwise might have been landfilled. Using natural and recycled flooring products results in better indoor air quality because these products have little or no VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions, unlike many traditional types of flooring and their associated binders, adhesives and sealants.

Reclaimed and Salvaged Wood
These unique wood floorings are composed of re-milled lumber from deconstructed buildings and newly milled lumber from standing dead trees that have been salvaged from waterways and urban areas. Reclaimed and salvaged woods help to reuse materials that would have been otherwise incinerated, which contributes to greenhouse gases. Reclaimed and salvaged wood flooring can be a striking addition to a home. Nail holes, streaking and other character marks are typical, giving the wood a rustic look.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Episode 3: What Are The Health Benefits Of Reclaimed Flooring?


Episode 3: As it turns out, choosing reclaimed wood is as important a health choice for your family as eating vegetables.  But why is reclaimed lumber better for you than new wood?


Ask Albany Woodworks is an informational series for homeowners. Get the inside scoop on top trends, home tips, and some DIY for your next project. Visit our website for more information: www.albanywoodworks.com

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Madness: What's The Real Story?

When you hear the term "March Madness," you probably envision something like this, am I right?  College basketball in all of its vivid nail-biting glory. 


(Above):  College basketball is exciting ... but does it cause "madness" like they say?

During this time you hear the term used a lot to describe the games leading up to the finals.  You may be as surprised as I was to find that March Madness became a term long ago to refer to ... bunnies ... like this one.

 

(Above): Yes, seriously ... bunnies.

Well, to be more specific the European Hare, also known as the March hare for the same reason.  Did you know?  The term March Madness was coined after the European Brown Hares, who, though generally nocturnal and shy in nature, change their behavior in the spring, when they can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around fields and meadows.

In the same vein, to be as "mad as a March hare" is an English phrase derived from the observed antics during breeding season of the Hare said to occur in the March.

Our 20,000th Page View! This Day In New Orleans History

Blogger's Note: In honor of an amazing 20,000 page views we take a look back at This Day In New Orleans History.  March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day in Louisiana. While this holiday isn’t widely acknowledged in the US, it is celebrated in New Orleans in a big way.



(Above): A traditional example of a St. Joseph's Day Alter.  These altars are put up a couple of days before St. Joseph’s Day, and this time period is called the Feast of St. Joseph.

From the New Orleans Online website:
March 19th marks the Catholic celebration of St. Josephs Day where Catholic New Orleanians construct elaborate altars in honor of this saint. The tradition, commemorating the relief St. Joseph provided during a famine in Sicily, began in the late 1800’s when Sicilian immigrants settled in New Orleans. Today, St. Joseph’s day is not just for Italian-Americans. Every year, this celebration offers New Orleans natives and visitors a chance to share food with others and for believers, a way to express gratitude for any sort of fortune in their lives.



(Above):   To honor St. Joseph the carpenter, much of the food includes breadcrumbs, representing sawdust. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph's Day custom. 

Altars
St. Joseph altars, representing the Holy Trinity, are divided into three sections with a statue of St. Joseph at the head. The devout place candles, figurines, flowers, medals and other items around the alter creating a beautiful, lush and overflowing effect. Since the altars thank St. Joseph for relieving hunger, offerings of food are essential. 

Food
Cookies, cakes and breads, often in the form of shell fish, are common decorations for alatars. Fava beans, or “lucky beans” are particularly associated with St. Joseph because they sustained the Sicilians throughout famine. Pick some up for good luck! As tradition has it, the altar is broken up on St. Joseph’s day with a ceremony of costumed children, pretending to look for shelter, finding sustenance at the altar. Food and donations are then distributed to the poor. 

 Fava Beans... My pa mixes these with vinegar, olive oil and fresh herbs and we nibble while we drink

(Above): Fava Beans for St. Joseph's Day The fava bean plays a role on the feast of St. Joseph and the tradition of the Altar or Table for March 19. 
 
St. Joseph’s Day Parade
Hosted by the American Italian Marching club, one of the largest ethnic group organizations in the southeast, the annual St. Joseph’s day parade in the French Quarter is a local favorite. The evening begins with food, wine and Italian music followed by marchers dressed in black tuxedos proceeding to parade until dark. Receive silk flowers and fava beans or dance and sing the hours away with enthusiastic bystanders. 

 

(Above): Fig cookies!  The altars contain many food items, especially baked goods like cookies and breads. They are constructed to pay homage to St. Joseph and to show gratitude for the abundance they’re able to share with the community via these altars.

Join the Celebration
Altars are found at local New Orleans churches, especially those with strong Italian roots, but they are also constructed in private homes, halls, Italian restaurants, and public spaces in different communities throughout the city. The Times Picayune, a local newspaper, usually reveals a week in advance where the archdiocese of New Orleans will host altars with visiting hours and food services. Some popular places for a guaranteed look include the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square and the St. Joseph church on Tulane Avenue by the Italian Renaissance Museum. And if you happen to see a fresh green branch over a local’s doorway, it means you’re invited to participate in the ceremony and to share the food. 



(Above): A modern example of a St. Joseph's Day alter.

Sicilians and Mardi Gras Indians
The tradition traces its roots back to a wave of Sicilian immigration to New Orleans in1880. While many US cities have large Italian-American populations, few have as direct a line to Sicily as New Orleans does –one could say St. Joseph’s Day traditions are unique to the Crescent City’s culture. Although the reasons are unclear, St. Joseph’s Day has also been adopted as an important day for the Mardi Gras Indians, an African-American tradition unique to New Orleans. The Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indian parade the Sunday after St. Joseph’s Day is an event you will not want to miss!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Home Design Trends That Stand The Test Of Time


(Above): Quality reclaimed lumber from Albany Woodworks is always on trend.  Our premium grade of antique pine pops with a bright turquoise wall and wood baseboards and crown molding painted white.  Visit our website for more information on how to order: www.albanywoodworks.com

From the Lancaster Online website article Home Design Trends That Stand The Test Of Time by Pat Johnson:   

It's easy to get caught up in the latest trends, whether it's clothing, accessories or electronic gadgets but what about when it comes to home decor?

Combining trends and timelessness
"I think combining some trendy items with more classic items has the best longevity,” says Henrietta Heisler, president and director of design at Henrietta Heisler Interiors Inc. (HHI), 217 W. Walnut St., second floor. “Today the trend is combining decors — an eclectic look, anything goes. One amazing stand-out trendy piece in a room makes a great statement and gives you flexibility. A great coffee table or a fabulous chandelier are two ways to add today's trend to a room."  Heisler, who has been an interior designer for 17 years, emphasizes "trends come and go but each iteration is unique to its time."

Stacy R. Wessel, interior designer and owner of SRW Design Co., 31 Diller Ave., New Holland, started her company in 2005. She says, "A homeowner can certainly incorporate trendy aspects into their home or business while having the core design stand the test of time.  “Great quality materials and craftsmanship are aspects of design that will never go out of style," she says.

"Lancaster County has beautiful historic properties that showcase original millwork, plaster cornices, decorative glass, wood flooring and hardware. These materials were installed and designed by skilled craftsmen. New (or newer) construction homes can follow suit by selecting great materials.  Reclaimed lumber and recycled wood are popular materials that will add character to a home and will stand the test of time."

Mix and match
Furnishings were once selected to match, Wessel says, and pieces that weren’t part of the matching group were thought of as temporary. But that has changed.  “Things are opposite now, which gives homeowners the freedom and joy to select furnishings that are appealing, sentimental, historic, etc.,” Wessel says. “I love mixing modern with traditional. Incorporating a Victorian or mid-century modern piece into a contemporary setting creates great interest and character. The same applies to light fixtures and hardware. Materials, metals, finishes do not have to match. This is a trend I am sure will continue to evolve."

The classics
Wood moldings, well-proportioned baseboards and crown moldings are among the classic design elements that have stood the test of time, Heisler says.  “They never go out of style, though chair rails have been out of style for quite some time,” she says. “Traditionally, molding has been painted white and the walls a deeper color. Today, I see a trend to painting everything the same saturated color — walls and details — thus creating a new trend with a classic look. Hardwood floors have also stood the test of time."

Going gray
Color is often an area that lends itself to trends, Heisler says.  "Gray has been a big hit in the design world, and now that it's broken into the norm I think it will stay. It's so versatile, there are so many good gray tones that blend with many other colors, metals and styles."

Others agree with Heisler. Consumerreports.com recently cited a National Kitchen & Bath Association 2014 Kitchen & Bath Style Report noting the growing popularity of using grays and beiges (or ‘greige,’ a combination of the two).  “These ‘new neutrals’ look crisp and classic on their own and blend well with many other colors and materials, including stainless steel," according to Consumerreports.com

Wessel says: "Though the neutral beiges, whites and greys are always popular, brighter colors are making a mark in the design world. You see large patterned colorful wallpapers as accents.  “Some colors like the Pantone colors of 2009 Mimosa Yellow, 2010 Turquoise and 2012 Tangerine Tango (orange) and one of my favorites, 2013 Emerald Green, have opened the door to bolder and brighter colors and lots of contrast.  "I think a saturated blue will be a relevant color in 2016 or 2017," Wessel predicts.

And don’t forget green
Heisler adds that "the reuse and repurposing of old items is still popular and can be a great way to create that special unique item in any room.  “This next generation takes recycling seriously and it is trending in the design world. I have seen design businesses start from the reuse of objects to create, lamps, tables and other elements."

"Thankfully," says Wessel, "the general population is more aware and educated regarding sustainability, green design and the environment. Creating an eco-friendly lifestyle did not exist in the recent past. Smart planning, energy and water conservation, using materials (i.e. paint) to cleanse the air, repurposing waste, etc. are practices that were not part of the design process.
“Green design is now in integral part of interior design."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How to Find a Four-Leaf Clover

Blogger Note: To celebrate St. Patrick's Day we are unearthing the facts on a popular childhood pastime of searching for a four-leaf clover.  How hard is it to actually find one and is there a secret to four-leaf success?  Here are a few tips to increase your odds this holiday.


(Above): How common is it to find a four-leaf clover?

From the HGTV website article How to Find a Four-Leaf Clover by Mick Telkamp:

Four-leaf clovers are an accepted symbol of good luck around the world throughout the year. But the four-leaf clover's association with Ireland and St. Patrick's Day is steeped in rich tradition. How much do you know about the legend of this uncommon clover? Check out these facts about the talisman of good fortune and learn how to find one for yourself.
  • A three-leaf clover is also called a shamrock, from the Irish word seamr√≥g, meaning “little clover.”
  • The shamrock is a registered trademark of the Irish government.
  • Four-leaf clovers are a mutation of the typically three-leaf white clover and occur in approximately one in ten thousand clovers.
  • There are over three hundred species of clover, but white clover  is widely considered the true clover of good fortune.
  • White clover, also known as Dutch Clover, is native to Europe, North Africa and West Asia, but is now grown around the world as a ground cover or pasture crop for livestock.
  • St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity, with the leaves of the three-leaf clover representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A fourth leaf came to represent God’s Grace.
  • Celtic legend ascribes the three leaves of a shamrock to represent faith, hope and love. A fourth, of course, represents luck.
  • Clover mutations can produce even more than four leaves, although the rarity increases.
  • The odds of finding a five-leaf clover are one in a million.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most leaves found on a clover was 56, discovered in Japan in 2009.
  • Napoleon was allegedly saved from a fatal bullet when he leaned over to inspect a four-leaf clover.
  • Abraham Lincoln wasn’t so lucky. It is said Lincoln frequently carried a four-leaf clover, but left it behind when heading off to an evening at Ford’s Theatre.
  • Ancient Druids carried clover to ward off evil spirits.
  • In Ireland, four-leaf clovers are sometimes included in wedding bouquets to ensure good fortune in marriage.
  • Four-leaf clovers may become less rare. In 2010, scientists at the University of Georgia isolated the gene that causes the “lucky” mutation.
Want to bring a bit of good luck into your life this St. Patrick’s Day? Despite the odds, it may not be as difficult as you think. In a dense patch of white clover, a four-leafer lurks in an area of less than fifteen square feet on average. Find a thick patch and slowly brush your hand over the surface. The center of a four-leaf clover has a different shape and the fourth leaf is often smaller than the others. These anomalies will naturally register the eye’s attention. Gradually widen your search until you get “lucky.”

Once you’ve found one, keep looking! The mutation found in four-leaf clovers exist in the roots and the likelihood of finding others in the same space drastically increases. The most four-leaf clovers found by an individual isover 111,000 in a period of fifteen years.  No word on his lottery winnings.
And remember—to find a four-leaf clover is lucky, but give it to a friend and your luck is doubled.  #FourLeafClover #SaintPatricksDay #GoodLuck #LuckyShamrock

Monday, March 16, 2015

Episode 2: Why Buy From Us?


Episode 2: Whether you are building as an investment, renovating a business or historic property or looking for a place to raise your family, quality reclaimed lumber from Albany Woodworks adds a lifetime of enjoyment. 


Ask Albany Woodworks is an informational series for homeowners. Get the inside scoop on top trends, home tips, and some DIY for your next project. Visit our website for more information: www.albanywoodworks.com

Friday, March 13, 2015

Making A Case For Stairs


(Above): Beautiful custom stair parts from Albany Woodworks can add a dramatic touch to an otherwise simple room.  Visit the Albany Woodworks website for more information.

From the Fabulous Floors Magazine article Making A Case For Stairs:

Overlooked… An afterthought. That’s usually the plight of a staircase and hallways. But it doesn’t have to be so.
 
The very fact that a staircase starts in one place and goes to another means it has 'action' and movement to it, whether it’s a sweeping grand piece of architecture reminiscent of Gone With The Wind or a simple, few seemingly modest steps in a contemporary home. They all have one thing in common – an opportunity to create drama and personality.

Because staircases are one of your home’s crossroads, they beg for design, though they’re often the last places we look to take on. Partly, that’s because there usually is no furniture and little else to decorate around.

However, there are elements worthy of attention. Molding, the color of wood, perhaps a window, a vaulted ceiling… It doesn’t take much, but it does take thought to turn little features into focal points.

Begin with a point of interest. A window given a new flair with window treatments can start the process that a piece of furniture does when decorating a new room. Look to lighting, wall coverings and paint to build off your focal point. Because stairs move us from one place to another, the 'floor' or stairs themselves get more traffic and more attention.

Designers tell us that the color of the staircase – and that includes the floor covering – needs to be part of or complementary with the room the stairs take us to. This helps with the literal and visual flow of the room and helps keep the stairs from being viewed as an appliance and more as a piece of the home’s architectural decor.

One of the great advantages of stairs is that you can mix and match a multitude of flooring types.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Enduring Style of A. Hays Town

Blogger's Note: Richard Woods CEO of Albany Woodworks had the pleasure of working with A. Hays Town over the years before the legendary architect's passing.  A. Hays Town's designs are known for using old pine beams and rustic flooring to great effect, both staples of the Albany Woodworks catalog. 

Coming across pictures of the A. Hays Town designed 1810 River House we noticed the beautiful similarities between it and several designs completed for our customers.  Let us explore the enduring connection between the architect, the craftsman, and the beauty of antique heart pine.


(Above): Solid wood cypress windows are an easy way to update a space in the quintessential style of A. Hays Town. The room on the left side is the A. Hays Town 1810 River House and the room on the right is designed with quality reclaimed lumber from Albany Woodworks.

Legendary Louisiana architect A. Hays Town advised several projects using lumber provided by Albany Woodworks .  He and Richard Woods, CEO of Albany Woodworks, met several times to select the best types of lumber for each room of the home.  Take a look at some of our past projects inspired by the beauty of his designs -- a style that endures withstanding the test of time.


(Above): Another classic A. Hays Town detail is the old pine beams used add a dramatic entrance to an otherwise simple room.  Left: A. Hays Town, Right: Albany Woodworks.

A favorite of A. Hays Town is old well-seasoned heart pine beams and rustic heart pine flooring.  The natural character and patina of these solid wood reclaimed elements are striking and only add to the authentic beauty of A. Hays Town's designs. 


(Above): Beautiful wood elements offer a wide array of looks, but in classic A. Hayes Town fashion, these rooms have it all: old pine flooring and ceiling with antique cypress wall paneling.  Left: A. Hays Town, Right: Albany Woodworks.

Often in an A. Hays Town design it is not just the floor that gets the solid wood treatment, often antique cypress is chosen to add beautiful paneling and molding details for the wall and ceiling.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Episode 1: Getting Started On Your Project



Looking for insight on the latest home and flooring trends? Our new DIY Youtube Channel 'Ask Albany Woodworks' provides insightful answers to viewer questions and explore the many benefits of using reclaimed lumber in your home.

Narrated by April Woods

April Woods is a Social Media and PR professional living in Denver, Co.  Growing up as the daughter of Albany Woodworks CEO Richard Woods provided April with one-of-a-kind insight into the reclaimed flooring industry and the sustainable building boom of the last decade.  By speaking to craftsmen and industry professionals like her father Richard April hopes to discover the traditions of America's antique wood past, one that was almost lost.   


(Above): 200-year-old well seasoned and aged pine beams, rustic heart pine flooring and custom solid wood windows are a perfect addition to this customer's home.  Visit our website for more information: /http://www.albanywoodworks.com/.

Getting To Know Reclaimed Lumber

Blogger's Note: When you have the opportunity to meet Richard Woods, CEO of Albany Woodworks, it becomes apparent early on that he has dedicated his life to something he loves -- reclaiming a part of America's history that was nearly lost.  After 38 years in the antique lumber business, Richard offers a wealth of knowledge on the process of reclaiming 200-year-old slow-aged pine beams to craft beautiful Heart Pine flooring.  For the beauty of reclaimed lumber and the quintessential look of the South, Albany Woodworks is the one-stop-shop for fine quality craftsmanship.  Richard takes a few moments to speak with us about what makes old lumber truly exceptional.  


(Above):  Albany Woodworks CEO Richard Woods' hands are resting on a counter top he built from rustic Antique Heart Pine with the original 200-year-old saw marks still visible.   The cabinets behind him are solid birch cabinets and soft-close solid wood Antique Cypress doors.

Hello Richard, thank you for the interview.  You have some important information to pass along for homeowners looking to build new or update an existing space.  Let's get started.  What is 'old growth' lumber and how does it impact the overall longevity of a floor?
  
When people use the term 'old growth' they are generally referring to timber from old-growth forests that grew naturally without the aid of man.  In a virgin forest trees are close together and typically grew in high competition for sunlight and nutrients with other trees. This resulted in slow-growth timber with dense growth rings which ultimately provides more stable and durable lumber upon harvest and extends the overall life of a floor.   Very few forest like this still exist and this quality of wood is only available through the type of reclaiming process our company provides.
 
'New growth' is a term for lumber harvested within the last 120 years using modern forestry practices.  Closely maintained tree farms for lumber production allow spacing and thinning of the trees for faster production.  Maintained or "farm" forests give trees ample access to sunlight and nutrients so the wood produced is less dense and not as durable.  Since 'old growth' timber was allowed to mature fully before being harvested and not 'farmed' on a time-table for profit it has a greater percentage of heartwood which makes for a much stronger floor. 

I'm glad you brought that up.  You hear the term 'heartwood' thrown around a lot in the industry especially in regards to flooring.  What is 'heartwood' and how does it impact flooring stability?
 
'Heartwood' is essentially the 'skeleton' of a tree giving it the strength to lift its canopy towards the sun or weather a storm.  This strong inner core is surrounded by the active sapwood, the 'life blood' of a tree. A virgin-growth tree at maturity has a percentage of heartwood around 90% of its diameter and plays an important role in tree growth. As the tree ages, sapwood is converted to heartwood from the inside while sapwood continually grows outward.  Sapwood is responsible for carrying nutrients to the tree while heartwood provides a tree's strength.  This same strength is what makes products containing a large percentage of heartwood like our Heart Pine flooring durable, rot resistant and beautiful.   
 
It's a beautiful product, no doubt. What is the process of finding this type of quality reclaimed lumber and how difficult is it to find?

The process of finding this quality virgin-growth heartwood is a true quest for the wood enthusiast and craftsman alike, or anyone who appreciates quality products and are looking for the best materials available.  There are very few virgin forests left in the world.  So when we travel to where these materials can be found, primarily rescued from demolition sites around the country, it's pretty exciting.  When we find it, it's like unlocking a small piece of our country's history and that is just the beginning.    

The manufacturing process for reclaimed lumber is a lot more time-consuming and complicated than cutting down trees for new lumber.  Seasoned lumber like our 200-year-old beams is a lot denser than new lumber, and harder to cut.  We had to source machinery from the old Southern lumber mills to do the job.  We purchased our main saw "Big Bertha" from an old mill and had her fully restored.  She works hard and needs a lot less maintenance than some of the newer machines.

The first step is we find buildings scheduled to be demolished that contain a specific species of lumber. We find the species we are looking for by analyzing a sample of the wood under a microscope.  Once identified to be the correct type, we make arrangements to pick up the lumber once the building has been carefully disassembled.  The wood we produce in this process is known as 'reclaimed' lumber.  Some of the most successful demo rescues I have been a part of are the ones where all useable materials -- such as brick and steel -- are salvaged as well in a cooperative effort, going to market rather than ending up in the trash.   

Maintaining a steady supply of high quality reclaimed heart pine and cypress is the foundation of Albany Woodworks' success, but finding the perfect source lumber is not always that simple.  For example, a building that looks old by most appearances doesn't necessarily contain quality wood.  Our high quality lumber is based on stringent guidelines and we guarantee a level of excellence that you just cannot find anywhere else.  The feedback from craftsman when they use our product in the field is one of great satisfaction.  I feel its worth the extra time we put in as the finished product is always spectacular. 

Richard Woods is a reclaimed lumber and sustainable building expert with over 38 years' experience in the industry.  His family-owned and operated business in Southern Louisiana was one of the first in the country to realize the incredible potential of reclaimed lumber.  Visit the Albany Woodworks informative website at: www.albanywoodworks.com