“Made in ….”

The modern global marketplace sends many items on a long journey across continents before they find their way into your home.  A “made in …” label seems like an oversimplification for such a journey, so many people look at these labels with a bit of skepticism, and some do not look at them at all.  We can say that Wolfcraft Furniture is “Made In Wisconsin”, but we would rather show you!  The information below highlights our sourcing of hardwoods, the primary component of our furniture.

Forestry

Wisconsin is home to an excellent supply of renewable natural resources as well as landowners who want to see those resources manged well. The diversity of trees and wildlife in the state is incredible, so being a good steward of land can be a daunting task. Landowners enlist the help of foresters to ensure that their wooded parcels are managed to maximize their potential to benefit this generation and the next.  Forestry plans provide guidance on how to eliminate invasive species, create high-quality timber, and benefit the surrounding environment.  (Below) is an excerpt from a Central Wisconsin forestry plan.

Logging

Few have what it takes to be a lumberjack.  These modern-day Paul Bunyons have to be creative, flexible, and willing to risk their lives to give us access to Wisconsin hardwoods.  The equipment in use at a modern logging site range from centuries-old tools to modern technology.  A chainsaw and wedges are the preferred method for felling a tree in tight quarters.

The downed tree must then be cut into useful lengths before it can be moved.

When there is sufficient space at the sight a modern log processor can be used to make the process more safe by putting the logger a short distance away from the action.

A skilled logger operates the processor as naturally as if it was his own arm, using it to nudge, move, fell, and cut logs to length.

The timber is still deep in the woods at this point, so a process called “skidding” is used to move the logs to areas where they can be sorted and piled.

Log-Trucking

Log trucks are a common sight on the back-roads of Wisconsin.  The log-trucking industry uses specialized trucks equipped with cranes to load the timber.

The truckload of logs then makes the relatively short journey to the sawmill.  This is an efficient step in the process that helps to manage costs because these logs are traveling across the state and not across the ocean.

Sawmill

The logs will become recognizable as rough-sawn lumber at the sawmill.  The first step in this process is to remove bark from the logs.

Each log is scanned and a plan is made for how to process the log in the most efficient way possible.  An operator approves this plan and sends each log through the mill.  In these pictures of red oak being milled, the interior heartwood color of the oak becomes visible and the white colored sapwood can be seen near the edges.

Larger oak trees yield a large center square beam that contains high-quality lumber.  This beam is cut on a re-saw machine, and it is transformed into remarkable red oak planks

Once the logs have been cut into planks it’s time for them to be graded.  Each board is measured and inspected in order to determine its overall quality.  Wolfcraft Furniture’s oak pieces are made from the boards shown marked with a circle, which indicated a “select and better” or “S&B” grade.

Kiln-Drying

Once the boards have been made at the sawmill, there are a couple more steps before they will be ready to be brought to the Wolfcraft workshop.  The milling sawcuts get removed by resurfacing the boards, and they are all planed to a uniform thickness.  However, the most important remaining step is kiln-drying.  This may be the most underappreciated part of the process, as it is both an art and a science.

Kiln-drying increases the stability of the lumber by reducing the moisture content of the wood to be balanced with the typical moisture content of the atmosphere.   The lumber is first seasoned outdoors with perfect spacing between each board.  The length of seasoning is determined by a “recipe” that the drying artists keep confidential.  This recipe then calls for the lumber to be loaded into a kiln heated to a specific temperature and the air kept at a certain humidity.  By adjusting the heat and humidity throughout the drying process, the center of each board is equalized to a 7% moisture content.  A final conditioning process replaces moisture on the outside of the board so that it is consistent throughout.  Once the boards are dried to 7 % they are delivered to Wolfcraft.  From there it is our responsibility to keep this carefully dried wood in a controlled environment so it does not pick up or loose moisture.

For more information about our workshop and how we build the furniture, visit this page: How It’s Made – Workshop Tour.