Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Natural Beauty of Antique Heart Cypress


(Above): Antique Heart Cypress is often sought out for its natural rot-resistant and water-resistant properties which make it ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications.

For thousands of years the forest and alluvial basins were undisturbed, allowing these stately giants to slowly grow to heights of 80 to 150 feet with trunks as large as 15 feet in diameter. It's easy to see that they are a relative of the ancient redwoods of the west. The Heart Cypress trees' ultimate demise was hastened because the lumber contained in these huge trees had uniquely subtle grain patterns, beautiful coloration, and unsurpassed rot-resistance.

Antique Heart Cypress, known as the "Wood Eternal", has been revered by craftsmen and wood workers for its wonderful workability for over a hundred years. We have reclaimed old Cypress from it's use in buildings that were constructed in the 1800's. These buildings were southern textile mills, lumber mills, large agricultural buildings and at one point we were able to gather and use old Cypress that had been used as industrial water cisterns. This type of reclaimed cypress will have multiple knots and nail-holes. Let us provide this wonderful material for your particular project.

 

(Above): Antique Heart Cypress from Albany Woodworks has natural beauty, color, and character like no other type of wood.  Installed in this customer's home, it becomes apparent how many uses there are for Antique Heart Cypress, or "the wood eternal" as it has come to be known in the industry.

Please check our other pages for Sinker Cypress products like Custom Doors, Shutters, Ceiling and Wall Paneling, Moldings, Cabinet or Doorstock, and Custom Milling.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Our 200th Blog Post! Albany Woodworks is Turning Green With WES

Blogger's Note:  Team Woods - my father Richard Woods, CEO of Albany Woodworks, my sister Alissa, my mother Judith, and I - have been very busy on a new green energy project.  Albany Woodwork's sister company Waste to Energy Systems (WES) is an up-and-coming green energy start-up that promises to make history with the launch of a brand new, state-of-the-art bioHearth® gasification system.  What is gasification you ask?  Visit Alissa's new WES Blog and get all of the facts on gasification and its impact on the future of green energy.  


(Above): Albany Woodworks is 'turning green' with help from WES and the bioHearth® gasification system.

Albany Woodworks is partnering with Waste to Energy Systems (WES) to take going green even further - in addition to already sourcing some of the best quality reclaimed lumber in the industry for the last forty years - with hopes to soon be off the grid completely and powering our 10,000 sqft. facility with clean energy from sawdust and wood scraps.


(Above): The WES Blog is a great resource for current events in green energy and particularly gasification. 

Visit the WES informational website  for more information about this exciting technology.  Congrats to Alissa Woods for joining the ranks as a professional blogger!!! Your sister is very proud! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Making the Grade: Identifying Antique Lumber

Blogger's Note:  We recently sat down with sustainable building expert Richard Woods, CEO of Albany Woodworks, to gain insight into the process of reclaiming old-growth Heart Pine and Cypress.


(Above): Richard looks through a microscope at sample wood from a building scheduled for demolition to determine it's species. 

Richard, after consistently manufacturing high quality Antique Cypress and Longleaf Heart Pine for the last forty years, you must have a lot of insight into the antique lumber industry.  What is old-growth lumber and how difficult is it to find?

Richard: For the wood lover and for the craftsman whose products deserve the best materials, the process of finding quality old-growth heartwood is quite a journey.  The old-growth forests where these materials were once found are rare.  The few remaining unharvested old-growth trees are protected in national forests.  These forests once harvested, take between 500 and 1200 years to regenerate.


(Above):  Richard's company reclaims these well-seasoned beams from old wood buildings scheduled for demolition - saving this quality antique lumber from the landfill.

So, I can imagine that can make the process of finding old-growth wood difficult.  What is your secret to success in locating quality materials? 

Ever since the harvest of the the last big trees, craftsmen like us have turned to reclaiming lumber from buildings scheduled for demolition which were constructed from old-growth lumber.   This began a movement in re-purposing ancient woods, known as "reclaimed". The skills we developed for reclaiming antique lumber are much more complicated than the old way of simply harvesting trees.

What do you look for in determining good antique lumber and what is your reclaiming process?

Old wooden buildings scheduled for demolition must be found and then analyzed to determine construction materials.  Once we have identified the building contains the correct quality and species of wood, the building is then disassembled carefully and we ship it to our warehouse facility.  To bring this process full circle, and to make the intensive and careful reclaiming process economical, other materials such as brick and steel are reclaimed and brought to market.


(Above): At Albany Woodworks' large lumber processing facility skilled craftsmen work with the reclaimed antique lumber to bring out rich natural characteristics only present in quality old-growth wood.

Just because a building was built one hundred and fifty years ago doesn't mean it contains quality materials. In the beginning, when we opened our doors, we found the learning curve on how to reclaim lumber as a business is steep to say the least.  But after testing several methods pioneered by early southern craftsmen and working with my wife and business partner Judith on developing the business, we were able to streamline our process.  We have maintained a steady supply of quality heart pine and cypress ever since, which I believe is the secret to Albany Woodworks long-term success.

If I may ask, after forty years what is your favorite part of the business - what inspires you?  You seem to have dedicated a large portion of your life to innovating what has become the sustainable building industry - what do you want Albany Woodworks' legacy to be?

My favorite part of my business, is rediscovering the beauty of well crafted reclaimed lumber, and being able to share that historical element with my customers in their home.  This material continues to become harder and harder to find - as will any real source of high quality wood.  Farm-grown and Chinese imported timber will never give us the durability and lifetime of value available to us now in reclaimed antique lumber.

The process of converting old buildings into finely crafted antique building products has its own challenges - since it is very time consuming with a high percentage of  waste - but it is also very rewarding.  To see beautiful old timbers, once doomed to a landfill, given new life at our mill is magical and continues to amaze me.  It is a very intensive, hands-on process that can seem thankless at times, but saving this beautiful wood and sharing our customers' excitement when they see the quality of our finished product is very worthwhile.


(Above): Richard maintains a steady supply of quality Antique Heart Pine and Cypress which guarantees your order will meet Albany Woodworks' rigorous wood quality standards.

As to our legacy, when its all said and done, we hope that Albany Woodworks' craftsmanship will be remembered for doing justice to this historically-important and scarce resource.  Perhaps remembered for being one of the original founders of the reclaimed building materials industry.

Richard Woods is a reclaimed lumber and sustainable building expert with 40 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: http://www.albanywoodworks.com/.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Carefully Selected And Hand-crafted Antique Pine Beams

Blogger's Note: Watching Richard Woods build our family's lumber business taught me something that has always stayed with me.  He believed then, as he does now, that providing a quality product is well worth the time that goes into hand-crafting each order.  He enjoys seeing the happiness his superior product and craftsmanship provides our customers, knowing they are adding real beauty and lasting value to their homes.  Here is the process that makes Albany Woodworks unique in the industry, and how their products dazzle while standing the test of time.



(Above): These slow-aged, well seasoned beams are carefully milled by Albany Woodworks into gorgeous flooring - or are perfect 'as-is' for an authentic touch of character.

An Ancient Forest
What is it that makes Albany Woodworks' products so unique?  Well, before our carefully hand-selected beams arrive at your home, they have taken quite a journey.  Starting life over 500 years ago in the old growth forests of the deep south, these Longleaf Pine trees grew to hundreds of feet in height and would often take two experienced axmen half a day to fell.


(Above): Ancient pine forests like this one once blanketed southern Louisiana, untouched by the hand of man.

Standing in pirogues and alternating swings of the ax, these hardy lumbermen would traverse the swampy landscape of central and southern Louisiana looking for the largest virgin timber to harvest.  Once these giants were brought to earth, they were allowed to dry out and became buoyant enough to raft together down river to one of the lumber mills lining the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

At the lumber mill, these huge logs were transferred to a mill pond to await the first cut of the saw blade.  Mostly overlooked until the 1920, these vast expanses of forests were left to the local Acadian craftsmen whose expert hands worked this sturdy pine into beautiful cottages and furniture.  Due to it's large percentage of heartwood, the strongest inner core or 'skeleton' of the tree, this old growth "Heart" Pine was a craftsman's first choice for quality building materials.  That is why Antique Heart Pine is our first choice when it comes to crafting a beautiful solid wood floor.


(Above): Often working in teams of two, and sometimes more when the size of the tree called for it, axmen in southern Louisiana were ingenious in developing unorthodox methods in harvesting timber from the swamps, often standing on a small plank or floating in a pirogue while swinging an ax.

Slow-aged and Well-seasoned Beam Stock
Once the huge pine forests of the south, untouched by man, were discovered, there was a huge demand for this stable, durable timber.  With lengths nearing 20' and the strength to rival steel, Louisiana Heart Pine was popping up all over the country for structural beams in industrial buildings and as Higgins Landing Boat keels for the war effort in the 1940's.  Our lumber is from this same stock which is why it was selected by the US Coast Guard for replacing the keel beam in a Higgins craft on display in The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.


(Above): Old growth Louisiana Longleaf pine was used in the war effort, its strength rivaling steel, to build keels for Higgins Landing Craft.  Albany Woodworks donated Antique Heart Pine to replace the keel beam on this Higgins Craft on display at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, La.
 
After many years slow aging and curing into a well seasoned hearty stock, these timbers were nearly lost.  In a city rejuvenation period starting in the 1970s and lasting to this day, many historic buildings are being purchased and torn down to make room for modern buildings and skyscrapers.  Once the center of a bustling industry, these aging commercial buildings are seen as blight on otherwise valuable real estate in the heart of many urban cities.

This is where Richard stepped in and began a process of giving new life to this antique lumber that is at the center of today's growing reclaimed lumber industry.  One of the first in the country to realize the amazing potential of this priceless resource of quality antique Heart Pine nearly four decades ago, Richard is now a sustainable building and reclaimed lumber expert.  He taps on this wealth of experience to provide customers with solid wood flooring and building materials that you just can't find anywhere else.   

Building For The Future
Richard's choice to save these living pieces of our country's history forty years ago has evolved into a mission for education and preservation.  With the quantity of remaining Antique Heart Pine dwindling, Richard works even harder to find and identify buildings containing this special character of wood to save it from being lost forever to the landfill.


(Above):  Each antique reclaimed pine beam is carefully hand-selected by Albany Woodworks to provide a lifetime of beauty and value to your home.

Sustainable building materials continue to be in high demand as inferior flooring with dangerous chemicals flood the market from overseas.  Richard believes that continuing to provide the best quality reclaimed product at the best price encourages customers on the path to using Eco-friendly materials - helping us build a better and greener future.


(Above): Once installed, antique building materials from Albany Woodworks will add a lifetime of beauty to your home.

Beautiful Antique Heart Pine from Albany Woodworks is a great choice for your family and the environment.  Antique products that share a real sense of  our country's history, a piece of history you can bring home.  Visit their informative website for more information www.albanywoodworks.com or plan a visit for a more hands-on experience.   

Monday, May 4, 2015

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ...

Blogger's Note: Every year May 4th is celebrated as Star Wars Day as in May The 4th (Fourth) Be With You.  If you don't get it at first, say it a couple of times in a row and you will be speaking like a Jedi before you know it!  

Here's a couple of cool Star Wars Day posts that we saw today that have an eco-friendly or historic message:

1. Saratoga National Historic Park:


(Above): A portion of the location of the Star Wars Battle of Endor and the entire site of the 1777 Revolutionary War Battles of Saratoga are preserved by the National Park Service.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Rebel Alliance battled against the repressive, evil Galactic Empire, in order to restore freedom to the galaxy. Nearly 238 years ago in our own galaxy, Rebel Americans fought the forces of the repressive, not-at-all evil British Empire, in order to create a new, independent nation. Both rebellions faced impossible odds but overcame the enemy's military might, numbers, and technology, and in the end were victorious.  ‪#‎MayTheFourthBeWithYou‬

2. Albany Woodworks


(Above): The Redwood National and State Parks in California where the forest moon of Endor scenes were filmed for Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. ‪#‎StarWarsDay‬ ‪#‎MayThe4thBeWithYouThe‬