Created Hardwood’s Showroom of Live-Edge Wood Slabs

Created Hardwood’s Showroom of Live-Edge Wood Slabs

I visited Created Hardwood’s Columbus Showroom and was blown away! Ever since Created Hardwood Ltd. – Butcher Block Co.’s supplier of Live-Edge Wood Slabs – opened a showroom in their hometown of Columbus I have been wanting to check it out. Recently I visited Ohio’s capital city and thoroughly enjoyed my tour of CH’s extraordinary exhibit.

Created Hardwood’s live-edge wood slabs are used to make stunning, natural countertops and one-of-a-kind tables for kitchens, dining rooms, lobbies and conference rooms.

I learned that the family-owned firm has discovered a myriad of other clever uses for the slabs they salvage from downed trees.

Upon entering the showroom you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the striking beauty and variety of options before you. The main hall of the exhibit showcases a selection of live or rustic-edge slabs mounted on a number of different metal bases. All told, CH offers 11 different table base styles and its design experts are eager to help customers find just the right base for the slab selected.

created hardwood slabs

Here are a couple of extra-large slabs that would undoubtedly transform a dining room or a conference room.

created hardwood tables

Narrower slabs can be transformed into gorgeous library tables, desks and countertops.

created hardwood sofa table

Smaller recycled slabs can make perfect accent or coffee tables. Notice how much impact the selection of table legs can have. The wood slab in the photo is mounted on “Points” legs, which provide a delicate look suitable for a coffee table. While a similarly sized slab is mounted on heftier “Taper Up” supports, which signal this is a sturdy bench.

created hardwood coffee table

These unusual and stunning floating shelves were further testimony to the creativity of CH’s creative and skilled craftsmen…

created hardwood shelves

…as was this island bar and bar stools set.

created hardwood seated bar

In the rear of the store a neon sign calls (more like “shouts”) one’s attention to CH’s wood slab cutting boards exhibit. Rectangular slabs of various species and sizes hang, much like paintings in a gallery. They’re mounted on an authentic red brick wall, providing keen contrast in color, material and texture.

created hardwood cutting boards

By this point in my tour I was so impressed by the variety of CH’s creative re-use of salvaged, living edge natural wood slabs that I couldn’t imagine what I’d find around the next corner, nor could I wait to see. And sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. I discovered a mock bedroom showcasing a wood-slab headboard, and an adjoining bath with a mirror framed at its top and bottom with wood slabs with live edges.

created hardwood headboard

And as they say on infomercials, “Wait, there’s more.” That’s when I discovered that the seat and back of a cushion-covered loveseat in the main exhibit hall were also wood slabs. But to be honest, by then I should not have been the least bit surprised. Here’s one of CH’s more interesting designs. It marries a glass table top with table base consisting of interlocking wood slabs.

created hardwood sofa

If you live in or near Columbus or ever visit, be sure to check out Created Hardwood Ltd.’s unbelievable tribute to wood slab recycling. It’s located downtown, at 16 West Poplar Avenue. If you want to shop online, visit us at butcherblockco.com and see our selection of Created Hardwood live-edge slabs, table bases and cutting boards.
Warm thanks to my tour guide, Created Hardwood’s National Sales Manager, Max Charney.

Little Workshop of Horrors

Little Workshop of Horrors

My workshop. First off, I admit I am certainly not the neatest of handymen, nor among the best organized. This photo of my garage workshop reveals as much. It’s also evidence of the fact that I shun comprehensive, strategic planning that might otherwise result in solutions that prove smart over the long-term. Instead, I tend to jump into home projects willy-nilly, making series of one-off decisions that each seem perfect in the moment. That’s how I wound up cobbling together this nightmare of a home workshop – an amalgam of work tables of various sizes, shapes and styles.

My first acquisition. A versatile, Seville Classics mobile storage cabinet (pictured at left) was a sensible one. It provided then-adequate enclosed storage via a cabinet with an adjustable shelf plus four drawers that glide easily on ball bearings. The unit’s top is a ¾”-thick wood workbench with a smooth, hard finish (presumably polyurethane). At the time it seemed as though this workbench tool cart would satisfy all my needs for my lifetime. I was so young and naïve. Like most obsessed tinkerers, I was constantly discovering new tools and gadgets that I simply had to add to my workshop. One of these, a set of those; you get the picture. A pegboard with assorted hooks and holders made a good home for hand tools…for a while. It wasn’t long before my workbench on wheels was maxed out.

Additions. Over time the projects I undertook expanded in scope, as did my collection of hand and power tools and all their various attachments. Pegboard soon covered the adjacent wall as well. I shopped around for workbenches but ultimately decided to build one myself. A fairly simple creation, it provided added open storage on a lower slatted wood shelf, plus a larger and sturdier work surface compared to that original tool cart. The work bench top is 1-1/2”-thick maple edge-grain butcher block with a natural oil finish and it fits the bill to a T. Still I remained on the prowl for more benchtop work space as well as enclosed storage space to satisfy my insatiable appetite for more and more guy stuff (reminiscent of Audrey II – the carnivorous plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” crying out, “Feed me, Seymour!”). So next, I repurposed a discarded desk with colorful metal-faced drawers. I make good use of the desk’s drawers, as well as its ¾”-thick laminated worktop. But still, something was missing from my little workshop of horrors.

More butcher block.Then it hit me like a brick. The idea was to use the converted desk and narrow bookshelf situated to its right – on which I store still more tools and such – to support a massive butcher block that would become the literal cornerstone of my Frankenstein-like creation. It would span the corner gap between the storage cart on the left and the butcher block work table on the right.

In this picture you can see the answer to my tool shop dreams (or little workshop nightmares?). It’s resting on the floor in front of the tool cart. It’s a 2-1/4-inch-thick commercial-grade blended maple butcher block made by industry leader John Boos & Co. in Central Illinois. The block is finished with Varnique – Boos’ own varnish-like blend that provides a protective shield and makes cleanup easy. Boos workbenches provide all the functionality and durability handypersons could want or need for their home workshops. This particular block started out 48 inches long and 34 inches wide. Custom cuts – one straight and one mitered – made it just the right shape to fit the corner and to maximize the amount of available benchtop workspace.

I’m very pleased with the end result. Deceptively, it almost looks as though I followed some grand design vision. But you, Dear Reader, now know better. Oh well, as they say, “All’s well that ends well.”

Coffee Table Design Takes Butcher Block Out Of The Kitchen

Coffee Table Design Takes Butcher Block Out Of The Kitchen

John Boos butcher block has been around for over 130 years and has been used in residential gourmet kitchens and commercial kitchens alike. But butcher block is not just for kitchens anymore! It’s finding its way into other rooms of the home. Perhaps it is the current DIY craze shared through Pinterest lovers that inspire people to create differently. And maybe it is the rise of the rustic-chic and mid-century modern influences that affect home décor now. But whatever the case, no one is going to stop you from taking butcher block out of the kitchen and into the rest of your home.

Looking around my house, I see I have more butcher block in other rooms of my home than I do in my kitchen! Sure, I have butcher block cutting boards, and a while back we featured our DIY walnut butcher block kitchen table. But I also have 15 feet of walnut edge grain butcher block countertops in my home office; over 8 feet of maple butcher block workbench in the garage; and a lovely walnut end-grain butcher block table in a guest bedroom. I know I have access to more butcher block than the average person, but the point is that with a little imagination you can easily design butcher block into other rooms of your home.

butcher block

Our most recent project is this hunky end-grain butcher block we made into a handsome coffee table for our living room!

INSPIRATION

The impetus behind this project started with our 68 pound dog, Kirby, who jumped on our leather sectional and put a huge hole through the cushion. Now granted, it was an old couch, but it happened to fit perfectly in our living room; so much so, that we had it re-upholstered and re-stuffed three times over the years. We did end up replacing the sectional with two new mid-century modern couches.  But then it was clear that our coffee table did not match, was very beat up and was 4” higher than the new couch cushions. So, we needed to replace it, too. Inspiration for our new DIY coffee table came from a number of places, one of which was from our customer, Kaleb, who built a coffee table for his home from a 4” thick end grain butcher block. For our project we used a 7” thick standard size John Boos maple end grain butcher block, 36” x 25” that had been returned with some shipping damage on two corners. The damage did not affect the integrity of the piece, but it made the block unsightly and not saleable.

PREPARATION

If you are going to make a DIY butcher block coffee table, we recommend you purchase it unfinished, to save yourself prep time. In our case, we had an end grain block that already had a mineral oil finish. Because we didn’t want to oil our table every month, we needed to eliminate as much oil as possible from the wood. We let it dry out and then wiped it with denatured alcohol. We also spent a fair amount of time sanding the block with both a belt sander and an orbital sander to lessen the crushed corners. That also helped remove some oil and our sanding was successful in removing/hiding most of the damage. We decided to router all edges, including the top, bottom and corners with a ½” beveled (Chamfer) edge which removed enough wood to even out the damage. The most challenging part of this project was in trying to maneuver this 175 pound block!

FINISHING

The existing furniture in our living room is cherry stained and we wanted our natural maple end grain coffee table to blend in, so we chose a cherry finish Danish oil (DeftOil). Then we applied urethane finish to seal and protect (General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Oil & Urethane Topcoat – Satin finish). Given this butcher block weighs 175 pounds we needed legs that were not only stylish, but also strong enough to support it. We like the look of hairpin legs and think the style blends nicely with our mid-century modern couches. We determined a 9” leg would bring our table to the exact height we needed and we sourced them from DIY Hairpin Legs, ordered a set of four  ½” thick steel hairpin legs in jet black color, and were very pleased with the quality.

Here is the completed table.

Butcher Block coffee table

Feel free to comment and share with us your ideas for incorporating butcher block into other rooms of your home!

 

DIY Inspiration from our Butcher Block Co. Customers

DIY Inspiration from our Butcher Block Co. Customers

We are so inspired by the creativity of our DIY customers, that we wanted to share some of their work with you. We have recently received several photos of incredible DIY projects from some very handy customers. We hope you are moved to think outside the box and re-purpose something you already own, or even build something from scratch to make your own custom creation! We can help you customize just about any size top to fit your exact needs. Check out these amazing projects to get your creative DIY juices flowing!

Our DIY customer, Kaleb, designed and created the industrial style coffee table featured above. It is topped with a 4″ thick Maple End Grain Butcher Block. We love his mix of wood and steel, and the industrial style is certainly popular today. After his day job, Kaleb spends time in his workshop designing and building custom industrial style furniture and picture frames. “Making industrial furniture and construction is my release,” he says. “When you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day you need some sort of an artistic release…” Kaleb can build just about anything. His picture frames are large statement pieces usually 6 feet long. He uses wire rope, pad eyes, gears, chains, rivets, etc.. to give each piece an industrial feel. Check out this awesome portable island he made for his sister, which is a massive John Boos AA Block supported by the stainless steel frame he fashioned.

DIY Custom Island

Another happy customer, Karen, always wanted a long butcher block island in her kitchen, but could never find one that was long yet narrow enough for her space. She did have an existing console table that fit perfectly in her Savannah kitchen, so she decided to do-it-herself and make her own custom island featuring a Butcher Block Co. Cherry End Grain top  73″L x 18″W. Nicely done, Karen. If you can’t find it, DIY!

DIY Custom Cherry Console

DIY-er Elise, from Maryland, refinished the base of an old end table, added wheels, and topped it with a hefty 4.5″ thick hand-scraped Beech edge grain butcher block, creating this delightful kitchen island cart. Elise wrote us and shared her DIY story…”We had been using it (the table) as a stand for the printer in our home office before a remodel and it no longer fit with the new built ins. So, I was moving it to the basement for storage when I noticed it was the right width for a kitchen island (we have a strange kitchen and finding just the right thing has been problematic.) So I chalk painted and antiqued it, and added the wheels, and found your wonderful butcher block online. I am so pleased with the way it turned out. It is so nice having the extra workspace. And it looks so lovely. It really finished the room perfectly.”

DIY Custom Island Cart

If you have created a custom DIY project with one of our blocks, we would love to see it!

A DIY replacement of a top on something you already own is usually pretty easy, and is a great way to breathe new life into an old piece.

If you are in the market to upgrade some existing furniture or create your own masterpiece, we hope you’ve been inspired by these truly awesome projects, and we hope to help you along on your creative journey.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these other DIY posts on our blog:

Custom Butcher Block Projects from Happy Customers

Butcher Block Co. Happy Customer Photos

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd

Reuse Project – Butcher Block Table

Happy Customers – Island Upgrades

Walnut Butcher Block Tops

Creative Uses for Butcher Block

Butcher Block Co. Happy Customer Photos

Butcher Block Co. Happy Customer Photos

We love getting customer photos showing off the new Butcher Block Co. countertops and furniture in their homes! Our feature photo above highlights Walter’s New York kitchen with a Butcher Block Co. brand maple edge grain countertop inset into his quartz island countertop. The blending of natural materials like wood and stone helps to showcase the individual textural and color differences. In Walter’s kitchen renovation, it resulted in a clean, bright, and modern space. Very trendy and gorgeous!

In the recent research report, Houzz 2018 U.S. Kitchen Trends Study, we discovered some other enlightening trends regarding homeowners renovating their kitchens:

  • Homeowners who are remodeling their kitchens are paying quite a bit of attention to countertops.
  • Countertops are the most common kitchen upgrade (94 percent), followed by sinks (89 percent) and backsplashes (88 percent).
  • And countertops are the top feature (at 42 percent) on which home renovators are willing to spend a little extra.
  • The U-shaped layout of kitchens is no longer the most popular option (32 percent), as the L-shaped layout has made a comeback over the last two years (35 percent).
  • Finally, the study revealed that 75 percent of renovating homeowners are obsessed with clutter-free countertops, preferring a more minimalistic appearance.

Our customers typically order butcher block tops to serve as either kitchen island tops or kitchen countertops. Our John Boos custom tops can be ordered with stove and sink cutouts, scrap hole cutouts, miter cuts and angle cuts.  Other creative uses for our butcher block tops include laundry room counters, office desks, table tops, bar tops, workshops and more. (Check out our blog for other Creative Uses for Butcher Block).

John Boos countertops come in standard and custom sizes, in four species of wood: Maple, Walnut, Cherry and Oak. The most popular grain styles are edge and blended grain, but traditional end grain is available, too.

Butcher Block Co. brand countertops are custom made to your dimensions and offer you 15 different wood species from which to choose! They are also available in end and edge grain, but the most trendy selection is plank-style tops.

Watch our Happy Customer Photo Short Video

Visit our Happy Customer Photos Gallery to learn more about the butcher block you see below.
customer photos

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd.

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd.

Today we are featuring our new line of Live Edge Table Tops from Created Hardwood with a special guest post from the owner of Butcher Block Co., Mark Shook. We love all the photos showing the whole process. Read on for all the details plus the beautiful finished product. Thanks for sharing, Mark!

My wife had been bugging me for a long time to upgrade the simple (and admittedly cheap and homely looking) desk squeezed against the wall of our master bedroom. I was open to the idea, but uninspired by the computer desks and narrow tables I came across. But once she discovered  the live edge tables that we had added at Butcher Block Co.,  we had our solution. Both my wife and I loved the idea that we could own a one-of-a-kind, all-natural piece of furniture that would look as though it were custom-made to fit our exact needs.

We searched scores of great-looking maple and walnut slabs, but since our bedroom furniture is dark, we narrowed our search to walnut slabs. Sure enough, we came across a long, narrow specimen of just the right length and width that was simply gorgeous.

Next, we turned our attention to selecting a base to support the table top of our dreams, and zeroed in on the Points base design. We selected the Bronze finish, which we expected would complement the dark browns in the live edge slab and in our bedroom, knowing this would extend the delivery date but feeling good about the trade-off.

We were assured that the slab and heavy metal legs would be well protected during shipment. When the massive wooden crate finally arrived, I realized they weren’t kidding! It took an hour to remove dozens of wood screws to disassemble the crate, but I love that I now have all this extra wood for various home projects.

Here’s a view of the shipping crate with its top and one end removed. You can see how much time, care and attention the packers put into protecting not only the slab, but the metal legs beneath it, as well.

Live Edge Shipping Crate

Once I removed the protective top layers, the holy grail was revealed to me. There, in all its natural glory and wonder was the prize I coveted for weeks.

After carefully moving our new, prized possession into the master bedroom, my wife and I returned to our newfound treasure chest to retrieve the base. Four bronze Point legs were secured by yet more screws to wooden braces that prevented them from jostling that could possibly mar or scratch them.

 

Live Edge Assemble

Now it was time to begin assembly. Surprisingly and pleasantly, this proved to be the quickest and easiest step in the entire process. The folks who salvage and finish these live edge slabs – Created Hardwood – pre-drilled holes into the underside of the slab, inserted metal screw inserts into the holes, and even labeled the four Point destinations, as well as the corresponding legs (A, B, C and D). Using the Allen wrench they supplied, I installed all 16 screws in a matter of minutes.

VOILA!

My wife and I could not be more pleased. Thank you Created Hardwood — a great addition to the Butcher Block Co. collection!

Live Edge Computer Table

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – A Fresh Summer Dessert

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – A Fresh Summer Dessert

Claire is back and she brought Strawberry Rhubarb Pie! Claire has never let us down in regards to summer delights, and this is the perfect dessert as we transition into the hot summer months. Let’s all take advantage of the farmers’ markets and roadside stands this weekend to pick up some fresh fruit and see what treats we can come up with. In the meantime, Claire has pie to share.

A little birdie has told me that it’s dessert week at Butcher Block Co. I know for a lot of people, that might conjure images of chocolates or cakes, but my favorite desserts are all fruit-based. Baked fruit, fresh fruit, whatever, I love it. We’re coming into fruit season now, and I can tell because giant, weathered rainbow umbrellas are popping up along roadsides over tables offering the best local summer produce at the best prices. We’re not quite at stone fruit season, but I am here for the early summer offerings, like strawberries and rhubarb. I love rhubarb, but like so many of the best foods, I didn’t appreciate it in my youth. I thought it was too tart, and also, it was a weird food that no one ever heard of and it looked like weird celery. When I was a kid, my mom would make rhubarb pie, and I would eat the crust and the ice cream and leave the filling. I was an idiot with bad taste; I always ordered the chicken sandwich in restaurants, which is why I didn’t discover how good hamburgers could be until I was well into my adulthood. But I digress.

When I was a teen, my dad actually planted some rhubarb in our front yard. I watched it grow from a little puff of leaves on slender pink stems into a giant, fan-leaved monster that threatened to take over the whole garden. By that time, like all teens, I still hadn’t completely grown out of my idiocy, but at least I had better taste. I started making a mess in the kitchen trying to copy my mom and grandma’s pies. I did apples in the fall, peach in late summer, and as the spring would start to turn hot, I did my part to rescue the garden from the encroaching rhubarb-pocalypse. Of course, as an obnoxious teen, I couldn’t stick to their tried-and true recipes. Instead, I stole all the newly-ripened strawberries from the tiny patch at the side of the house and put them into a pie with the rhubarb. It turned out awesome. It was like a revelation. My family never really came around to my side – old habits die hard, I guess.

For me, strawberry rhubarb pie is my absolute number one pie pick.

I don’t make a ton of pies anymore. It’s less fun when the mess is in my own kitchen and I can’t rely on my dad to come in behind me and start doing dishes. Also, I am a grown adult person, and I can’t just go around eating pies all the time. Still, when I see those umbrellas pop up along the roadsides, I know I have to do at least one strawberry rhubarb pie to bring me back to those flour-coated summer days in the kitchen, my dad buzzing around me with a sponge and the whole house smelling like heaven. Heading home from the grocery store last weekend, I saw one of those rainbow umbrellas, and I had to stop. Fifteen minutes later, I was at the kitchen table hulling the sweetest strawberries, the whole house already smelling like heaven.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
I don’t have my grandma’s recipe on hand anymore, so for this strawberry rhubarb pie, I used Deb Perelman’s recipe from the Smitten Kitchen, which of course turned out amazing, even though I over-cooked the filling a smidge in order to get a prettier color in the crust. I really like the way the tapioca thickened the juices without affecting the flavor at all. Then I figured, as long as I was committing sacrilege by deviating from my family’s recipe for the filling, I might as well go whole hog. Mom, you may want to stop reading here.

My grandma always made the same crustStrawberry Rhubarb Pie for every pie with just flour, salt, vegetable shortening, and a little hot water to bind it all together. It’s a great workhorse crust. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, but it’s reliable and simple to make, it works for a savory or sweet filling, and it’s what I grew up with, so it has always been my go-to. However, my mantra in the kitchen and in life is that the worst reason to do a thing is “because that’s how my parents always did it.” Plus, maybe I still have some of that obnoxious, rebellious teen in me. I decided to try my hand at an all butter crust for a change, and I am telling you, my eyes have been opened. It was flaky, rich, and as much the star of the dish as the incredible filling. After a perfect pie like this, I don’t think I could ever go back to shortening. Sorry not sorry, Grandma.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

In the spirit of dessert week, my husband and I have devoured nearly the entire glorious pie in the space of five days. I top each serving with some gently sweetened whipped cream, and I shamelessly lick the plate clean. What are you doing for dessert week? What is your quintessential summer dessert? Is it weird that I’m strongly considering making another strawberry rhubarb pie this weekend?

Celebrate National Limerick Day with Butcher Block Co.

Celebrate National Limerick Day with Butcher Block Co.

National Limerick Day is observed annually on May 12. It celebrates the birthday of English author and poet Edward Lear, who was known for his literary nonsense in poetry and limericks.

Do you recall learning to write a limerick when you were in grade school?

At Butcher Block Co. we get to write a limerick just for the fun of it. Read through our limericks, let us know what you think and share a limerick with us. Make it a great National Limerick Day!

Limerick customer service

If you act like a whirling dervish,
And buying online makes you nervous,
Cover bets in case, you’re at the right place.
Because we’re number one in service.

Limerick cooking

For high-quality goods you are looking,
Specially those that are made just for cooking.
Then please check us out, promise we’ll not tout,
Endless orders we now are booking.

Limerick standard size countertops

You have been wondering if you could,
Replace old tile counters with wood,
Just listen to us, it’s hardly a fuss,
So yes, you absolutely should!

Limerick customer countertops

Want counters that match your décor?
Easy to maintain and to restore?
Made-to-order or stock, we won’t put you in hock,
Wood tops family and friends will adore!

Limerick Countertops

Wood islands are sure great for greeting
Family for chatting or eating,
Maple or cherry, grain patterns vary.
You just have to provide the seating.

Limerick Portable Islands

Our kitchen islands are sortable,
You will find one that is courtable.
Want lots of store space, or one you can race,
Choose one with wheels so it’s portable.

Limerick Carving Boards

Want a cutting board made for carving,
Just want to spend only a farthing?
We sell just the best, so look to the rest.
We’re sorry if we leave you starving.

Limerick Boos Cutting Boards

If a very dear friend needs a lift,
Or at you she is possibly miffed.
You need an idea, so she will see ya,
Try a Boos cutting board as a gift.

Why We Love Wood.

Why We Love Wood.

Why is it that so many people love wood?  Whether it be fine wood furniture, wooden vases and bowls, hardwood floors, barn wood beams, reclaimed wood bar tops, butcher block countertops, we seek it out. Perhaps we love wood because it connects us to the natural world and allows us to bring a bit of the outdoors inside. But for me, it is more than that.

First, I love the forest. I grew up in Sherwood Forest, with a huge wooded area right across the street from my house. I spent most of my youth exploring the forest and playing with my siblings and neighbors from sunrise to sunset. We built forts, went on treasure hunts, and played hide and seek in the woods. As I grew older, I found that I was drawn to the forest as less of an adventure and more of a peaceful escape. A place to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city, to regroup and re-energize. Fortunately, I live in Arizona and can venture to Oak Creek Canyon often to hike and just sit and look at the trees.  I am just amazed at how they grow, how much history stands before me, how they survive with the weather, and how beautiful they are in aggregate. I could stare at them for hours, gently blowing in the breeze. Forests have continued to be a part of my life’s story. My husband actually proposed to me in the middle of the Coconino National Forest 27 years ago. And I just now returned from visiting my favorite place on earth, the Bamboo Forest, at the end of the road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii.

The reason I love wood is likely a natural extension of my love for trees. Wood can overload your senses, from the look, feel and smell of it.

Wood has a feeling of life, because it came from something living. And wood seems to have a story to tell. Certainly, the grain indicates the years of its life and the character of the grain can show a bit about the conditions it was grown under. Wood grain has a “visual texture” to it that I am drawn to.  Some wood species, like hickory and ash, have such pronounced and unique grain patterns. And walnut has these delightful twists in the grain and significant color variation between dark brown heartwood and creamy blond sapwood. There is much character in the feel of wood too, such that I find myself always running my hand along the top of wood, regardless of its finish.  I like to feel the rough texture of weathered barn board, the curves and dents of hand-scraped planks, the silky surface of finely sanded raw wood, and the smooth surface of fine furniture. And wood can have some glorious scents that evoke special memories: cedar wood’s unique and powerful aroma reminds me of my parents’ cedar chest and fresh cut pine always takes me to Christmastime. In Arizona, the smell of burning mesquite wood in the winter months is very common and brings back memories of camping in the woods.

Finally, I love wood because it can be crafted into functional and beautiful homes, pieces of furniture, tools, art, décor, and more. Because wood varies so much, no two pieces of furniture are identical when made of the same wood species. And so much of what we build from wood can last lifetimes.  What a wonderful tribute it is to a tree, that can grow for centuries and then be fashioned into something else that can live on for another century.

Ever Wonder Why Basketball Is Played On Maple Hardwood?

Ever Wonder Why Basketball Is Played On Maple Hardwood?

Everyone Knows March Madness Is Played on Hardwood. Ever Wonder Which Hardwood?

In 1891 parents in Springfield, Massachusetts challenged Dr. James Naismith to invent an indoor game that would condition and tire out kids during the long, cold New England winters. Famously, he nailed two peach baskets to the railing of the balcony in the YMCA gymnasium and changed history. The gym’s wooden floor was made of hard maple (acer saccharum).

More than a century later, rock maple remains the hardwood used by local Ys, the NCAA and all but one NBA team.(1)

 

So Why Rock Maple?

Maple flooring gained popularity in late-nineteenth-century America. Among other things, it was relatively abundant and hence, affordable. Plus, maple was known to be strong, durable and stable. Less likely to expand and contract in response to changes in temperature and humidity, maple is largely resistant to splintering. Measured on the Janka scale(2), rock maple is North America’s most resilient hardwood.

Moreover, maple’s exceptionally tight grain(3) prevents dirt and dust particles from seeping in between the wood’s fibers, making it an easy wood to clean and maintain. Finally, maple can be easily restored to look new again. These are all traits equally important for sports courts.

The ideal playing surface must be solid and consistent throughout to ensure that a basketball will bounce exactly the same (i.e., without recoil or dampening) when dribbled anywhere on the court, since even small differences can impact the game. But the ideal surface must also provide some degree of shock resistance or bounce-back, in order to minimize players’ fatigue and damage to their joints. Also, maple’s coloration is perfect for basketball, given the contrast between the game’s orange ball and the floor’s light to medium tans and browns. This helps make it easy for players to spot the ball on the court. The lightness of maple also aids in brightening arenas via the reflection of light off the floor.

 A Professional-Grade Basketball Court Will Set You Back $80 to $100k

The actual playing area of courts used by the NCAA and NBA measures 94 feet by 50 feet, but most incorporate a large perimeter, bringing overall floor dimensions to about 140 feet by 70 feet. The hard rock maple planks used are typically slightly thicker than ¾ of an inch, so it takes 80 to 100 trees to construct a single hardwood court. By the way, the NBA requires teams to replace their floor every 10 years.

The Big Dance Floor Will Be Offered to the Winner

Connor Sports (Elk Grove Village, IL) made the basketball courts used for 13 different NCAA conference championships. The modules that comprise these portable courts are shipped to regional tournament sites where they are assembled and eventually disassembled after play. Connor has also supplied the floors used in the Men’s and Women’s Final Four since 2005. These floors are also modular, but one-off custom designs that are offered for purchase to the winning schools who often display portions of the floor or cut the modules into smaller segments that can be sold to alumni or collectors via fundraisers.

The manufacturing process is remarkable; it even involves riding sander machines! Click the image below to watch this video on Youtube.

Here’s another time-lapse video showing workers installing the 2015 Final Four court – made of Northern rock maple harvested from Wisconsin – at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Smartest Bet This March Madness Is on the Floor, Not the Brackets

It’s estimated that $10.4 billion will be wagered on 70 million brackets this time around (only 3% of those bets will be legal). Be smart and bet safe: for certain, all games will be played on North American rock maple!

(1) The famed Boston Garden features red oak in a distinctive parquet design, instead of maple.

(2) The Janka Hardness Scale measures the amount of pressure required to mar a wood sample.

(3) “Grain” typically means the physical structure and appearance of a wood surface and traces to the orientation of the wood’s cellulose fibers – the remnants of once-living longitudinal cells.