Experts Offer “Three Perspectives on Wood” at Madison College Event

The Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program at Madison College recently hosted a speaking event offering their students, as well as builders, designers, and woodworkers, “Three Perspectives on Wood” to understand how to source and use wood properly for best performance.

Chris Hunt, a research chemist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), was one of the invited speakers. For more than 25 years, Hunt has studied ways to make better use of wood. His presentation, titled “Why Does Wood Do That?” focused on how understanding the structure of wood can improve one’s carpentry and woodworking skills.

FPL research chemist Chris Hunt explains how humidity levels cause wood to shrink and swell. (Photo credit: Patrick Molzahn, Madison College)

Hunt’s current research focuses on how water and chemicals inside cell walls impact the properties and performance of wood products, with applications in better decay resistance and adhesive durability. With many samples on hand, Hunt used his expertise to explain wood swelling, and how a woodworker can predict and accommodate changes in size and shape of wood with changes in humidity.

Attendees learning “Three Perspectives on Wood” at a recent Madison College event. (Photo credit: Patrick Molzahn, Madison College)

Other speakers at the event included August Hoppe, vice-chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, an organization committed to the social, economic, and ecological benefits of urban trees, and Roger Rowell, an international expert on chemical modification to improve the performance of wood, who retired from FPL after a 41-year career.