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Thread: The Future of Woodworking?

  1. #1

    The Future of Woodworking?

    I was thinking of this the other day. As a Machinist, we work with some unique metals, and now more than ever, unique composites. This requires some new methods and new tooling to deal with these new challenges. Now we all know woodworking has always followed closely behind metalworking. From adapting lathes, mills and bandsaws, to realizing carbide was better than high speed steel, woodworking has "borrowed" a lot of metalworkings machines and tools.

    So what lies ahead? What tools, what materials, what innovations will woodworking borrow from metalworking in the near future?

    Do you see computer numerically controlled tools coming into the home shop soon (CNC routers, panel saws, etc)? What about new cutting materials such as the new ceramic cutters that are so super hard they make carbide look dull? Will they make it into the woodworking realm soon? What about these new rotational cutters that the metalworking industry is now using? Will they make it into woodworking.

    Basically what do you guys and girls see coming more mainstream into the woodworking world? And while we are at it, what areas? Do you think Flatwork will always be the big area of tooling improvement, or will turning be targeted next?

    And finally what about the wood itself. Will it even be wood? You laugh but how many decks are now made out of composites? In the marine industry I work, we use tons of sheetgoods that are laminated with plastic cores, and use other odd woods with strange metal, fiberglass, and carbon-fiber cores to make the wood better suited for boats. Trust me, if we are using it, it will soon make it into a big orange box store soon.
    Last edited by Travis Johnson; 12-07-2007 at 10:50 AM.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    I think the tooling 'revolution' for turners has already begun... other than SawStop, I'm not seeing much new on the other side.

  3. #3
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    Wood, being renewable and with an infinite variety of colors, figure, beauty, etc. will be used by craftsmen forever, IMHO. New materials will come along that add to the artistic dimension. This is evident with pens. Many penturners/makers work primarily in synthetics and get very innovative with their chosen materials. But wood will live forever.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
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    I agree with Frank on this and sites like this and others will help make this happen. That said I think one of the main member surges at SMC is from CNC and laser users, at least their post numbers seem to be high when I hit "new post" As to CNC's making it into the home workshop...I know Crafstman came out with one a few years ago aimed at the homeshop, but don't know if many were sold, or if it's still available. Anyone know?
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    And finally what about the wood itself. Will it even be wood? You laugh but how many decks are now made out of composites? In the marine industry I work, we use tons of sheetgoods that are laminated with plastic cores, and use other odd woods with strange metal, fiberglass, and carbon-fiber cores to make the wood better suited for boats. Trust me, if we are using it, it will soon make it into a big orange box store soon.
    Travis, you raise an interesting question, one which I'm already involved with. I have a customer that manufactures a polymer-type material that is used in place of wood in certain applications. For example, their white and off-white material is used to replace ivory in cue sticks. This customer approached me several months ago about turning pens from their material for complimentary give-aways, and supplied me with round and square bar stock to try. This material is as hard as it can be---and after several attempts, none of which were particularly satisfactory, on my inquiry and suggestion they agreed to manufacture the material in tubing with the ID and OD to match the pen barrel sizes for the kit I'm using. Now, I have the tubing already sized--just have to sand it down flush with the bushings--and I'm just about ready to put some pens together (after lasering). This material saws like wood, lasers like wood, is completely stable, and will end up being manufactured in standard sizes and available at the BORGs, like engineered decking materials. But it will take an entire new approach to finishing - no more French polish finishes on this stuff. The idea that someone can make a material from a few chemicals tossed into a vat, that will work like wood, to replace it is astonishing to me.

    Nancy (14 days)
    Nancy Laird
    dandnspecialties@msn.com
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    Woodworker, turner, laser engraver; RETIRED!!


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  6. #6
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    "But wood will live forever."

    Um, actually, I'm not sure there *is* much of a future for woodworking as we know it. We're in the middle of a historical blip, where a thriving transportation system can bring us materials that are still available. But, as someone's .sig line says "Earth first! We will log the other planets later!" We are busily logging ourselves out of an activity. Are the forests truly renewable?

    Well, it used to be said that a squirrel could travel from Paris to Moscow without ever touching the ground (forget that there are a few rivers he'd have to swim along the way). That was certainly true a few hundred years ago, but it's been a while, and it's unlikely that's going to happen again (unless, of course, we all disappear). The same thing is happening now, on other continents. Is wood renewable? Well, pines are. I'm not sure sequoias fit the term. I guess most other species fall somewhere in between. In our lifetime, this may not be an issue, except as costs continue to rise, but in our childrens' lives, or our grandchildrens', its easy to imagine they could be variously shocked, horrified, or incredulous that we once used wood this way...

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Last edited by Bill Lantry; 12-07-2007 at 07:14 PM.

  7. #7

    Or maybe....

    How about:

    A water stream saw where an extremely high pressure stream of water cuts the wood instead of table saw 100 year old technology. It is already in use in other industries.

    A jointer and/or planer where the blade is stationary and is powered by ultra-sonic vibrations. No moving blade.


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  8. #8
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    Tool & Die . . .

    Dad is a Tool & Die maker so grew up with it but I went the wood route. As far as metal work tools and methods getting in my shop I'm already half way there. 'Bout half my shop is " inherited " from Dad along with measuring and set-up techniques. I take methods and tools from most all diciplines. Its kind of like watching 'Ol Norm . . . I'll probably never build a table but I can scale down his methods to fit a 13" missile launcher.

  9. #9
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    One of my pieces of shop equipment has a laser guide and two digital scales. A router does the cutting work, and the setup gives me the 'feel' of doing machining work. I would imagine that there will be more of this stuff. Such as DRO scales on tablesaw fences and blade adjusters.

    The impact-hardened teeth on sawblades, along with improved metalurgy might be another trend. But these things just appeal to the ego. You know, my tool is better than your tool.

    Of more importance is the growing appetite for better safety features. General saw is going to release cabinet saws with riving knives soon. And probably 'above-the-table' dust collection as well. It is scary when I was told by the sales rep of a large machinery maker that most of his customers run their tablesaws without either a splitter or a blade guard. Lots of room for safety improvements.

    Gary Curtis

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Lantry View Post
    "But wood will live forever."

    Um, actually, I'm not sure there *is* much of a future for woodworking as we know it. We're in the middle of a historical blip, where a thriving transportation system can bring us materials that are still available. But, as someone's .sig line says "Earth first! We will log the other planets later!" We are busily logging ourselves out of an activity. Are the forests truly renewable?

    Well, it used to be said that a squirrel could travel from Paris to Moscow without ever touching the ground (forget that there are a few rivers he'd have to swim along the way). That was certainly true a few hundred years ago, but it's been a while, and it's unlikely that's going to happen again (unless, of course, we all disappear). The same thing is happening now, on other continents. Is wood renewable? Well, pines are. I'm not sure sequoias fit the term. I guess most other species fall somewhere in between. In our lifetime, this may not be an issue, except as costs continue to rise, but in our childrens' lives, or our grandchildrens', its easy to imagine they could be variously shocked, horrified, or incredulous that we once used wood this way...

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Bill I just can't agree with you on this. I know what you are saying, but the facts just don't support what you are saying. At least here in Maine. I don't know much about other parts of the country, but as a logger and large landowner here in Maine, I know its not true here.

    Maine today has more wood then is has ever had. Yes EVER had. Despite some population growth, since the 1930's, Maines agriculture has been in a losing proposition. What once were fields are now forests...a lot of forests. As a kid I could remember seeing all the way to Waterville from my house. Now, the woods are stopping that view.

    All it takes is a walk in the woods to see old rockwalls. The settlers did not put those there for the fun of it. They were old fields at one time, but now have returned to woods. Myself I have planted 12 acres of old farm fields into woods. Those trees are high-breds to, growing to a foot in diameter and 40 feet high in just 11 years. That is phenomenal growth. That equates to 30 cords per acre in the last 11 years. That is not counting the other 1 cord per acre that grows on the average woodlot here in Maine. If you do the math you will see that my 300 acre woodlot produces 300 cords of wood per year, yet I harvest at most 10 cords. Forest sustainability is not only possible, its happening on a huge scale!!

    Of course its one thing to grow the wood and another to waste it. Yet sawmills today waste little wood. In fact the only thing wasted on a tree cut today is the roots. The stems are used for lumber, the tops used to make paper. The bark is seperated out and used in landscaping, and the leaves and other twigs are ground up with the sawdust and burned to make electricity...for the mill itself and sold to the grid. Heck a sawmill by me even uses the off cuts and turns them into building blocks for children...there is nothing wasted in that mill. More trash is generated from the lunch pails of workers then from the mill itself!!

    Now it would seem that since the population has grown here, there would be timber losses from houses and stuff. So it only makes sense that when my family landed at Plymouth Rock in 1609, there was more wood then then there ever could be today. Unfortunately that was not true. Over the years, the Maine Forest Service's efforts at stopping wild fire has been so good, that its limited to a few hundred acres of wild fire loss every year. Back before we came, fire would often go unchecked, burning thousand upon thousand acres of forest.

    The trees today are smaller, because the harvest rate happens sooner. Still the wood is there, and we are learning to use species of wood that several years ago were considered inferior. I've seen this in my own lifetime, from Yellow Birch that was pretty much a weed, to a viable woodworker sought after wood today. The same can be said for Popil (or popular as you guys call it outside of Maine). That was once considered a weed too, but now is used a lot in furniture and stuff. Of course there is also engineered woods too and they to have their place.

    Wood is here, and its here to stay.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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