Why and How to Market Wood Products

Why and How to Market Wood Products

This publication is designed to educate small to medium size primary and secondary forest products industry personnel about why and how to market wood products. Hobbyists and producers of wooden arts and crafts will also benefit by learning the necessary marketing skills to increase revenue and make their part-time business or hobby less expensive.

The Louisiana forest products industry has a reputation as a leader in the quantity and quality of primary forest products (lumber, plywood, etc.) and secondary forest products (furniture, cabinets, millwork, etc). As the population of the state, country and world continue to grow, the demand for wood products will increase. In Louisiana, the competition for wood products customers increases each year as large and small primary mills open, dry kiln capacity increases and numerous secondary companies open or expand. Therefore, proper marketing skills are essential for the industry to grow and prosper.

We welcome your comments on this publication and look forward to hearing from you. Your first source of information on forest products marketing or forestry in general is your Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service county agent. Please stop by your parish office to learn more about the programs available to you.

What is marketing?

 Marketing is defined differently by different people. Some business managers think marketing means selling, advertising, packaging or distribution. All of these ideas are important to marketing, but they don’t define marketing properly. Marketing can be thought of as a total system of business activities designed to determine customers’ needs and desires, then to plan and develop products and services to meet those needs and desires, and then to determine the best way to price, promote and distribute the products and services.

People often confuse marketing with other terms. For example, markets and marketing are not the same. Markets are the customers. Also, many people think marketing and selling are the same. A short explanation is that selling focuses on the product. A company sells what it can make. A company that markets what it can sell, however, focuses on the customer rather than the products. This difference is critical to a successful marketing plan.

Two important concepts about marketing are related to selling. First, the entire system of business activities should be customer-oriented. Consumers’ wants must be recognized and satisfied. Second, marketing should start with an idea about a want-satisfying product and should not end until the customers’ wants are completely satisfied, which may be some time after the exchange is made. The emphasis here is on the customer rather than the selling of the product.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Influence of solvent type on microwave-assisted liquefaction of bamboo

Influence of solvent type on microwave-assisted liquefaction of bamboo

Microwave-assisted liquefaction of bamboo in glycerol, polyethylene glycerol (PEG), methanol, ethanol, and water were comparatively investigated by evaluating the temperature-dependence for conversion and liquefied residue characteristics. The conversion for the liquefaction in methanol, ethanol, and water increased with an increase in reaction temperature, while that for liquefaction in glycerol and PEG was converse. The results of Fourier transform-infrared spectra for the liquefied residues revealed that cellulose was the main resistance to bamboo liquefaction in methanol, ethanol, and water. Glycerol could be selected as a commendable liquefacient for the solvolysis of bamboo components at low temperature using microwave energy. Moreover, liquefaction behaviors in glycerol and methanol under different temperatures were also distinguished by scanning electron microscopy images.

Bamboo has become one of the most important non-timber forest products in China and other Asian countries. This is primarily due to its rapid growth rate, availability, renewable nature, high productivity, short maturity cycle, and multiple uses. Currently, bamboo has been used in the preparation of high-value added products, such as panel, parquets, furniture, and structural composites. However, in the manufacturing of bamboo-based materials, the epidermis and wax layer of bamboo are usually split off. This is because of the poor wettability or penetration of these portions for subsequent treatments, for example, coating and preservative treatments, etc. Thus, large quantities of bamboo processing residues, such as epidermis, are cast aside as waste.

Recent achievements in techniques for converting woody materials into value-added liquid products under mild conditions using organic solvent and an acid catalyst have stimulated certain studies focused on evaluating bamboo as a raw material for manufacturing bio-products. Several studies have been conducted to formulate liquefied bamboo for bio-polyols and polyurethane foams (Yip et al. 2009; Zhang et al. 2013; Liu et al. 2008; Gao et al. 2010). Although pilot-scale evaluation of liquefied bamboo as chemical feedstocks for the preparation of polyurethane foams have shown encouraging results, an economically viable bamboo waste conversion technology is yet to be realized because of the high cost of the liquefaction process. Alcohols have been proven to be effective solvents for liquefaction of lignocellulosic biomass (Xu et al. 2013; Toor et al. 2013). The benefit from using alcohols in liquefaction is that they can be easily recovered after liquefaction.

Microwave energy has recently been applied in the liquefaction of lignocellulosic biomass (Pan et al. 2012; Li et al. 2013; Xiao et al. 2013). In a microwave heating system, microwave energy penetrates and produces a volumetrically distributed heat source; heat is generated throughout the material and leads to faster heating rate and improved kinetics as compared to conventional heating. However, microwave dielectric heating is based on the ability of a specific reagent or substance to absorb such radiation and convert it into heat at a given frequency (Cinta et al. 2014). Thus, solvents with different specificities that will be applied in a microwave-assisted liquefaction system may have an influence on the liquefaction behavior of biomass. In this study, liquefaction of bamboo with five different solvents (glycerol, PEG, methanol, alcohol, and water) using microwave energy was systematically investigated. The chemical structure and the surface morphology of the liquefied residues from different reaction conditions were comparatively analyzed. The specific objective of the study is to provide a primary understanding of the influence of solvents on the extent of liquefaction with microwave as heating energy.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

History of Naval Stores

What are naval stores?

Naval stores originally came from longleaf pine trees and were used in shipbuilding. These products or “stores” are turpentine, rosin, tar and pitch. During the American Revolution, longleaf pine forests were common throughout the vast prairies of southeast Louisiana. The gum-like resin harvested from these 

trees was known as crude turpentine. The distillation of crude turpentine produced spirits of turpentine, which was used as lamp oil and also in the manufacturing of medicines, paints, and rubber goods.   A residue from the distilling process was rosin which was often used to reduce the harshness of lye-based soap.  The smelting of pine logs made tar and pitch. Tar was used to protect the rope rigging of sailing ships, to grease axles, and in making tar paper.  Tar was also used to “tar and feather” people that done something improper.  Hot tar was also used to cauterize bleeding and to sterilize wounds and amputations.  Rope, soaked in pitch, was driven between the planks of ships to make them water tight and to coat hulls for protection from ship worms in salt waters.

Longleaf Pine

Longleaf pine was clearly the most valuable tree to the naval stores industry. Prior to 1900, forest fires started by lightning, burned until they reached a river or other natural break. This periodic burning cleared undergrowth and other trees, leaving the older, larger and more fire-resistant longleaf pines.  Longleaf pine requires heat from forest fires to drop its seeds.  As forest fires are now stopped as soon as possible, longleaf pine no longer is abundant in natural prairies.   

Obtaining Crude Turpentine

Removing resin (or crude turpentine) from longleaf pine was a laborious task. First a quart size hole, or “box,” was hollowed into each side of the tree about a foot from the ground. 

Using a scraper, called a “hack”, a strip of bark was removed above the box. This strip, or “face”, was twelve inches wide and twenty inches long. Resin would seep from the trees, flow down the face and into the box. The box was emptied seven or eight times per year. This “dipping” of  turpentine did not kill the tree since the resin is not part of the tree’s nutrient system. The face would be extended each season until it reached a height of about twenty feet. At that height the tree would cease to produce enough crude turpentine to be profitable.

Making Spirits of Turpentine

Once removed from the longleaf pine, kegs of crude turpentine were taken to distilleries, put into large copper kettles and brought to a boil. The resin would vaporize and condense in a cooling tower. The condensed liquid became the refined or “spirits” of turpentine Spirits of turpentine was used in paints and medicines, as a solvent, a fuel for lamps, and in processing rubber in the 1800s.

Making Pitch

 Pitch was used to coat the hulls of ships to protect them in salt waters. Boiling tar and a small amount of turpentine in a large iron pot made pitch. Boiling thickened the tar to a semi-solid. Hot “pitch” was poured into large barrels and a pole driven through them.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Wood Cars

Young boys years ago made wooden cars and raced them in the pinewood derby. I recall mine was held in the basement of my home church. My car was fast but not fast enough to win. I never imagined that wood would someday be used to make or fuel cars.

Now, the use of wood in cars has gone one step further. Japanese researchers and auto component makers are working on a material made from wood to help in the assembly of cars. The material weighs just one fifth of steel and can be five times stronger. The material is cellulose nanofibers and could become a viable alternative to steel in the decades ahead, they say, although it faces competition from carbon-based materials, and remains a long way from being commercially viable.

However, in recent years as gas prices increased there was a resurgence of interest in bio-based fuels for automobiles, diesel engines, and jet engines. One of the fuel sources that has been widely explored is wood.

Reducing the weight of a vehicle will be critical as manufacturers move to bring electric cars into the mainstream. Batteries are an expensive but vital component, so a reduction in car weight will mean fewer batteries will be needed to power the vehicle, saving on costs.

Researchers at Kyoto University and major parts suppliers such as Denso Corp, Toyota’s biggest supplier, and DaikyoNishikawa Corp, are working with plastics incorporated with cellulose nanofibers – made by breaking down wood pulp fibers into several hundredths of a micron (one thousandth of a millimeter).

Cellulose nanofibers have been used in a variety of products ranging from ink to transparent displays, but their potential use in cars has been enabled by the “Kyoto Process”, under which chemically treated wood fibers are kneaded into plastics while simultaneously being broken down into nanofibers, slashing the cost of production to roughly one-fifth that of other processes.

 

“This is the lowest-cost, highest-performance application for cellulose nanofibers, and that’s why we’re focusing on its use in auto and aircraft parts,” Kyoto University Professor Hiroaki Yano, who is leading the research, told Reuters in an interview.

“We’ve been using plastics as a replacement for steel, and we’re hoping that cellulose nanofibers will widen the possibilities toward that goal,” said Yukihiko Ishino, a spokesman at DaikyoNishikawa, which counts Toyota Motor Corp and Mazda Motor Corp among its customers.

Automakers are also using other lightweight substitutes. BMW uses carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRPs) for its i3 compact electric car as well as for its 7 series, while high-tensile steel and aluminum alloys are currently the most widely used lightweight options because they are cheaper and recyclable.

Yano said he was inspired in his research by a photo of the “Spruce Goose”, a cargo plane made almost entirely of wood in 1947 by U.S. billionaire entrepreneur Howard Hughes. At the time, it was the world’s largest aircraft.

“I thought that if Howard Hughes could find a way to use wood to build a massive plane, why not use wood to make a material that was as strong as steel,” he said.

Analysts say high-tensile steel and aluminum will be the more popular alternative for many years to come, considering parts makers would need to overhaul production lines and figure out ways to fasten new materials like cellulose nanofiber onto other car parts.

Anthony Vicari, an applied materials analyst at Lux Research in Boston, said it “would be a big deal” though if Yano’s projections prove to be correct. But for now, it remains “a very big ‘if’”, he said.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Matching New Stain to Old Wood

As seen on woodmagazine.com

My house was one of thousands that flooded in 2016 in the Baton Rouge, La area.  I did not have time to elevate any antique furniture, family heirlooms, etc before leaving the house.  So, upon return all of my furniture had a water line about 14 inches up from the floor.  Most of my neighbors panicked and throughout anything, including priceless antique furniture and family heirlooms, that had come in contact with the water. 

Now, a few points.  If your furniture contained any type of composite panel, particularly particleborad, fiberboard, or hardboard, it swelled and needed to go.  I had a round dining room table that was made from solid red oak.  It was nothing fancy but was unique in that it was hand made by Amish men in Pennsylvania.  I did not want to strip and refinish the entire piece.  So, I began looking at options on how to restain the bottom 14 inches to match the rest of the table.  Ditto for the chairs. 

I waited for the wood to dry back down to 6-8% moisture content, then I removed the exisiting stain on the bottom 14 inches.  I sanded it down by hand and eventually finished with steel wool. 

Matching paint is a simple process but stain is not so easy.  Go to your local hardware/paint store and get a stain wheel also known as a finisher’s color wheel.  It is a round shaped wheel that spin to try to locate the best visual match to your exisiting stain.  The wheel represents common pigments such as umber, cordovan, sienna, and ochre.  These are nothing but elaborate names for common stain colors –brown, red, orange, and yellow. These colors are printed on the rim of the inner wheel, and again on the outer wheel. When you line up different pairings on the rims, small windows in the inner wheel show how the mix creates a third color.

Line up cordovan on the outer wheel with raw umber on the inner wheel, and you’ll see in the window approximately how they mix.

Look for a close match

The windows might reveal several blends that come close to your target but rarely are perfect. If one looks too light and the other too dark, choose the lighter, because stain, like paint, is easier to darken than lighten. Now, decide which off-the-shelf stains come closest to the two stains that you selected from the wheel. Note that the grain or color of your wood may affect the results.  Some manufacturers sell inexpensive stain samples the size of ketchup packets perfect for experimenting.  Now, that you have two samples you need to mix the two together at different ratios to find the right combination.  A few tips:  Do your testing on the same wood as your project.  If not possible, then get a piece that is as similar as possible in species and sanded to the same grit.  Stir your stains well because pigments tend to settle in the bottom of the cans.  Do not make a decision on match until the test sample has dried.  Apply a topcoat to your test board.  The choice of finish will affect your results. For example, even crystal-clear finishes will alter the stain’s final color.

Darker stain

The first option to darken the color of the stain is to add another coat of stain after the first has dried. Stain is different from paint because the binders that help stain adhere to wood form a mild seal coat, which limits the absorption of excess stain. Another option is to wait to wipe off the excess stain. The time delay darkens the color because more of the stain’s solvent evaporates, increasing the ratio of colorant to liquid.  Many people incorrectly think that with increasing time the stain will penetrate the wood deeper and thus darker the color.  Without pressure, as with pressure treated wood, the penetration will be minimal.  A few words of caution.  Stain is meant to enhance the natural grain.  A heavy layer of pigment can obscure the wood grain.   

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Wood Staining – Lessons Learned

Slow Down and Do It Right

I love to stain wood.  It is relaxing and rewarding to see the finished product, especially when it comes out nice.  I have blogged before about the importance of patience when doing any wood working project, especially staining.  I recently purchased some beautiful 1x12x8 white pine lumber to use for bookshelves in my home office.  I bought Minwax Polyshade Classic Oak stain and went to work to apply two coats on both faces and the edges.  I don’t stain the ends because they will not be visible.  I stain both faces so I can then decide later which side looks best and install it with the best face turned upwards.

I set up a “work station” in my backyard using trash cans as work benches.  As usual, I was in a hurry with so many other things to do.  So, I made many mistakes that I would like to share with you and myself! 

Mistakes – The Ones That I Can Remember

I did a poor job of preparing the surface.  I did not rub the board faces with fine grit sand paper or steel wool before the initial stain application and I did not wipe the faces clean with mineral spirits before the first coat or between coats.

I set up a lousy work station.  I used old trash cans as work benches in my back yard.  This is fine but the problem is that my backyard is partially shaded so the stain dried unevenly.  Also, the boards were left to dry overnight and a heavy dew the next morning was not helpful.

I applied the stain too quickly and drips and runs formed on the edges, which I was too busy to notice.  The runs have now hardened and can be removed with a finger nail but the resulting stain will be uneven.

I let the boards become bone dry and then dead stacked them in my carport.  I hope that the high temperatures and humidity do not cause the boards to stick.

Take Away

So, I guess the question is what I have learned?  Well, to be honest the answer is nothing.  I already knew the dangers of doing a rush job on any wood working project.  However, I was more in a rush to get it done fast rather than to get it done right.  The faces will be covered with books, and I can retouch up the visible edge as needed, and as time permits, once the shelves are installed.  So, I will soon install the shelves and use them as a teaching lesson to myself and visitors.   I have previously refinished sentimental pieces of furniture that were handed down to me by my parents.  These pieces were done slow and steady and came out beautiful.  So, I guess I have proved that I know how to stain wood correctly and incorrectly!

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.