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Sustainable Woodworking Supports Sustainable Forestry

Cindy Humiston Weed

Cindy Humiston Weed

By Cindy Humiston Weed

I engage in sustainable woodworking, but I am not alone in this. Many local woodworkers engage in sustainable practices.

Jewelwood of Vermont

My own work is hand crafting wooden jewelry and barrettes under the banner Jewelwood of Vermont in Enosburg Falls, Vermont for over 25 years. I got into this after making softwood toys at the Montgomery Schoolhouse in the early seventies, making craft projects, and helping my husband in his wooden sash window and door business.

I was moved to my present work when I discovered the gorgeous native and exotic hardwoods like lilac, burled wood and recycled woods from woodworkers’ cast-offs. Now people arrive at my shop with trunk loads of lilac branches and burls.

My earrings, barrettes, pins, necklaces are accented with semi-precious stones, sterling silver, copper, brass and gold-filled embellishments. My work sells nationwide at fine gift shops and galleries, area craft shows, and on Facebook.

In 1992, my work was featured in Fine Woodworking’s Design Book #6.

www.facebook.com/pages/Jewelwood-of-Vermont

Massasecum Woodworks

Staircase built by Phil Byfield of Massasecum Woodworks

Staircase built by Phil Byfield of Massasecum Woodworks

In Bradford, New Hampshire, Phil and Sara Byfield run Massasecum Woodworks, building 12-sided wooden greenhouses. The small, sustainable green living company uses only safe and local materials like good lumberyard spruce 2 x 4’s and Thompson’s enviro-finish in their unheated greenhouses. They do not use pressure-treated woods.

“It’s a small custom greenhouse business at this point,” Phil Byfield, noted. “We are avid gardeners and always wanted a greenhouse. I am a design-builder, having had a career building custom houses and interiors. I am also a woodworker, and enjoy making such things as lamps and 12-sided lampshades.”

Two years ago, they built their first greenhouse, modeled after Phil’s lampshades. It was inspired by very expensive English greenhouses built also to be used as a sitting or reading room for several people. Sarah, a garden writer and artist, says “once the door is closed it is calming and inspirational inside.”

“It’s been called a therapy oasis; a space for meditation,” Phil Byfield, agreed. “The experience of just sitting inside is priceless.”

Next year the couple is building a larger model with hot water heat that will capture heat from the top of the greenhouse and pipe it into the soil bed.

“Keeping the soil warm is the key to these,” Phil said. “But we were amazed at how many plants reappeared in early spring, including some of the micro-greens.”

“This is not a greenhouse in a box kind of thing, it is a very customizable structure, built to last many years,” Phil added. “The standard 14ft greenhouse can be customized with plastic or glass windows, watering systems and the works.”

Massasecum Woodworks serves NH, ME, VT, and parts of MA. They can be reached at (603) 938-5988. www.massasecumwoodworks.com.

O’Meara Solar and Woodworking

Wood products made with solar at O’Meara’s

Wood products made with solar at O’Meara’s

The father-and-son team of Darren and Patrick O’Meara created O’Meara Solar and Woodworking in the central Vermont town of West Topsham,. The partnership grew out of needs for off-grid solar energy for their own homes and for the woodworking shop, and it and formally became a business a year ago.

Darren O’Meara is a semi-conductor test engineer at IBM in Essex Junction, Vermont, with degrees relating to electrical engineering. Speaking of his house, he explained, “We built on my grandfather’s farm. Bringing power in just wasn’t an option; it was just too expensive. So we did what a lot of other people do: we bought a kit and put it together ourselves.” The installation is on a passive solar, timber frame home in East Orange that he and his family built, and where he now lives.

Word spread, and Darren O’Meara starting getting phone calls from folks needing help with their solar kits. A business in solar power started to make sense, especially as IBM had been on “shaky ground” during the fifteen years he had been there. Hecompleted a solar installation and design course, and passed the NABCEP Photovoltaic EL exam, and so he handles most of the solar and electrical design work.

Solar array to power O'Meara's woodworking shop

Solar array to power O’Meara’s woodworking shop

Darren’s father, Patrick O’Meara, lives in East Orange, Vermont with his wife, Bonnie. Their home is also solar powered. Patrick O’Meara is a construction, landscape, woodworking professional with over thirty years of experience in residential and small commercial construction, including timber frame. These skills are essential for completing structurally sound solar infrastructure.

“The paths were connected,” said Darren O’Meara. “We can do solar in the summer and cabinets in the winter.”

With the solar business up and running, this winter the pair hopes to concentrate on more custom fine woodworking projects like desks, tables, kitchen cabinets, chairs, in their solar powered woodworking shop. Right now they are working on native cherry cabinets for Patrick O’Meara’s house, using lumber harvested and sawn by Darren’s uncle. “I dried it in my greenhouse,” Patrick O’Meara explained. “We dry wood and also whatever vegetables we have like beans and corn.”

The shop also doubles as a solar showroom for curious visitors. People are amazed by the tools and power equipment that solar energizes

They also draw on the expertise of another local father and son team: Arnie Braman, a master electrician, and his son Frankie Braman.

O’Meara Solar and Woodworking can be contacted at (802) 522-2381 in East Orange, VT.The website is omearasolar.com.

Planet Hardwood

For others who wish to do sustainable woodworking, or just using healthy home products, a visit to Planet Hardwood in St. George, Vermont is a must.

Planet Hardwood

Planet Hardwood

The green building supply source offers a multitude of Forest Stewardship Certified building materials and home and health-related products. They sell flooring from sustainable sources, recycled flooring, non-toxic cork and Marmoleum floor coverings, and a host of American Formulating and Manufacturing (AFM) Safecoat products ranging from cleaners to hair and body shampoos. It is one stop shopping for eco-friendly items.

Paul Farrell, operations manager at Planet Hardwood says, “We’re the one company like this in Vermont.”

Planet Hardwood supplies both finished and unfinished native and exotic wood flooring including pine, oak, maple, birch, tigerwood, cumaru, amendoim and sirari. They also offer recycled wood flooring made from longleaf pine timbers that once framed Kentucky bourbon warehouses, oak flooring from tobacco sheds in Tennessee, Canadian maple flooring rescued from abandoned woolen mills in the Carolinas, and renewable cork flooring from the Mediterranean cork-oak.

For kitchen and bath, Planet Hardwood offers Marmoleum, a floor covering with a jute backing that comes in sheets or snap together panels that is made from pressed flax seed oil, pine resin and wood flour. They also offer a new state-of-the-art countertop material called Richlite made of 10,000 layers of recycled paper compressed under 50,000 pounds of pressure. Paper stone comes in a variety of colors and is milled like wood and water proofed with a health-safe sealer.

Planet Hardwood also carries a host of AFM Safecoat product cleaners, paints and building products that are free from toxic ingredients.

Contact info: 802-482-4404, www.planethardwood.com.

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