Celebrate National Forest Products Week! October 21-27, 2018

Happy National Forest Products Week!

For the past 58 years, the third week of October has been deemed National Forest Products Week by Presidential proclamation. Here at the Forest Products Laboratory, every week is Forest Products Week, but we’re extra happy to celebrate this particular week with partners and the public, sharing all the good things trees provide.

To kick off the week, you can read a blog post below featured on the U.S. Forest Service and USDA blogs. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @fsWoodLab and #ForestProductsWeek to keep up with all the fun facts supporting what we already know: Wood is Good!

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Supply Chain Sleuths: Partnership Helps Preserve Integrity of Certified Forest Products

Recent action by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) to suspend a major charcoal producer in Europe is one outcome of the FSC and Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) partnership. This collaboration aims at using forensic wood science to investigate supply chainsAlex C. Wiedenhoeft, Research Botanist and Team Leader in FPL’s Center for Wood Anatomy Research (CWAR), has led the CWAR side of a multi-year, award-winning research cooperation between FSC and FPL. Wiedenhoeft and his team conducted the forensic analysis of the contested charcoal.

Specimens of lump charcoal displayed on a specimen submission form.

At issue was whether charcoal appearing on the retail market with the FSC label was in fact sourced from FSC-certified forests.  “Working with investigators within the FSC supply chain integrity team, our forensic results about the botanical origin of the charcoal showed that the species composition of the charcoal was or was not consistent with the species claim,” said Wiedenhoeft.  “As with most forensic applications of botany, the bulk of the work is done by the real-world investigators, whether law enforcement or industrial auditors. Forensic wood science steps in at the evidence analysis phase to give the investigators solid data to inform their investigation.”

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Hot New Video! Full-Scale CLT Fire Testing Yields Impressive Results

Trust us, you’re going to want to see this.

Forest Products Laboratory researchers conducted fire testing on a two-story cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure. Watch the short video below to see these one-bedroom apartments go up in flames, and to find out how CLT performed in the heat of the moment.

You can read more specifics about the tests in this previous LabNotes blog post, or if you’re really into the details and data, check out the full FPL general technical report.

Step by Step: Developing Design Standards for Hardwood Stairways

More than 1,500 wood samples are currently being evaluated at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) as part of an experiment that is helping researchers gain insight into the structural capabilities of various domestic hardwoods.

Hybrid hardwood, glass, and steel staircase in a commercial building.

In collaboration with Mississippi State University and Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association, engineers at the Lab are developing structural design standards for use in residential stairway and guard construction.

The project aims to survey the strength and stiffness of species such as red oak, white oak, Southern Pine, hard maple, and yellow poplar from nearly all regions of the United States.  Engineers and builders typically use these species solely for aesthetic purposes, but researchers believe testing their strength will lead to greater economic value and opportunity in the domestic wood construction industry. Ultimately, this will also contribute to a thriving job market, and allow forests and stewardship to thrive on both private and public lands.

Laminated hardwood curved staircase that incorporates a large variety of species for architectural effect.

Though the project began in 2017, engineers are still busy testing the species’ mechanical properties against current ASTM standards.  Final testing and result analysis will conclude in 2020. To learn more about this study, read the full Research in Progress report.

Blog post by Francesca Yracheta