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January 6, 2011

Eco-friendly Woodworking

[From Hat Factory Furniture, NY]
Expert cabinet builders, skilled at their craft and anxious to please customers, can miss opportunities to execute the same projects in much more environmentally friendly ways. Custom Cabinetry is frequently built of quality hard-wood materials that can last for generations. Of course for the environment, long lasting products are good – they don’t have to be replaced by other manufactured products. Custom cabinet builders at Hat Factory's New York Custom Furniture center use several tactics to stay ‘green.’
Fortunately, the drive for more environmentally-friendly carpentry practices really isn’t that challenging. While lumber is a renewable resource, most carpenters respect forestry and would certainly oppose wood harvesting practices that didn’t allow for rapid regeneration. Additionally, using good quality hardwoods such as cherry or walnut instead of other, less-durable material would ensure many more years of service life for the finished product. Most customers and homeowners very much enjoy the look and beauty of these woods.
Manufacturing industries have been given a ‘black eye’ recently for failing to produce more green or environmentally friendly products. This has changed for cabinetry and woodworkers. There are several effective and easy ways to improve processes to deliver quality work while reducing negative impact to the environment. These ways fall into three main categories: purchasing responsibly grown and harvested wood, using recycled core materials and avoiding materials manufactured with formaldehyde.
Responsibly Farmed Hardwoods – Harvesting good quality hardwoods involves careful selection and manufacturing processes. These processes do not damage surrounding trees or impact forests in such a fashion as to hinder future growth. In fact, selective harvesting can actually increase production over time. Unfortunately, good hardwood trees take a great deal of time to grow into usable size. This partially accounts for their expense relative to other materials. Other woods such as bamboo can offer interesting construction options. When used by skilled craftsmen, these other woods can provide the long life customers seek.
Recycled Core Materials – Manufacturers have developed many different types of composite building materials – some of which contain recycled or reclaimed materials from other processes. Use of these materials reduces waste and improves the production yield for the volume of wood and by products produced. Improving efficiencies is good business practice as well. Including recycled matter in composite materials works for all involved in the manufacture and delivery of quality woodwork.
Formaldehyde-Free Core Materials – Composite materials are widely used in construction of good quality cabinetry. These materials usually consist of resins and composite materials that, when combined with heat and pressure during manufacturing, produce quality stable formaldehyde-free material. These are suitable for all manner of custom woodwork and are widely found in many good quality products.
These three simple practices can make a big environmental difference when applied industry-wide. Fortunately, these are not huge changes to most purchasing or delivery processes they just require a little deliberation prior to purchasing input materials. In the end, decisions made at every stage can make a big difference...

[Ultimately, choices made by end-user consumers can make the biggest difference of all!  To ensure industry-wide adoption of 'green' practices always find out what went into what you buy, before you buy.  And when results of your research come up short i.e. show eco-unfriendly practices, at any stage always voice the reasons for your choices, pro and con:  businesses listen, and word travels fast!]