In November, we traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 2015 Greenbuild Expo – the premier sustainable building event of the year. After joining more than 600 suppliers and top manufacturers of the latest green building equipment, products, services, and technology available in today’s market, we really felt like we were renewing our commitment to our eco-friendly practices with other like-minded eco-conscious folks. And by golly, we were excited to share new products, including naturally textured reclaimed Hemlock and custom finishes too.
US Builder Review – the magazine for leading construction executives – published a special Greenbuild edition of the magazine, covering the several trade show Editor’s Choice honorees. (We were one of the lucky ones!) The Editor’s Choice 2015 honorees represent the most forward-thinking businesses and the brightest of thousands of industry leaders, experts and professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work.
We recently reclaimed 67,000 board feet of Chicago’s manufacturing and industrial history from the A. Finkl & Sons steel mill. Douglas Fir timbers were extracted from the 1890s manufacturing plant that was centrally located in the Windy City along with several other steel forging factories. In 2007, an overseas firm purchased the company and the manufacturing plant moved to the southeast side of Chicago, leaving many of the historic buildings covering over 25 acres, vacant. As the demolition wrapped up in late 2014, crews ensured that nearly 90% of usable material was recycled.
Over 450 of the reclaimed A. Finkl & Sons Douglas fir timbers were recently repurposed for a large timber frame project in Michigan. Available currently from this reclamation is a collection of 5 x 11 timbers. They are free of heart with original ‘sandblasted’ surfaces.
Along with our new-reclaimed Douglas fir, flowers on the property are also finding new homes. Beds of lilies and hydrangeas have been transported to other historic locations in the Chicago area to celebrate the once industrial valor of the area.
A. Finkl & Sons was founded by Anton Finkl, a German-born blacksmith that arrived in Chicago in 1872. In 1879, Finkl developed a new kind of chisel to clean bricks from buildings destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, creating a new business opportunity. As the business expanded into steel products, the company moved around the Chicago West Loop area, absorbing several existing properties along the way. Buildings that were constructed for Standard Oil and Cummings Foundry Company became additional puzzle pieces in the web of plants utilized by A. Finkl & Sons.
Let us know if you’re interested in the 5 x 11, free of heart, ‘sandblasted’ timbers.
Original gym flooring with reclaimed bleacher boards add character to the Ashley McGraw office in Syracuse, NY.
We teamed up with a local architectural and interior design firm in Syracuse, NY to make their workspace a little more playful for employees. Ashley McGraw Architects collaborated with us to bring reclaimed gym flooring and bleacher boards into their snazzy, newly remodeled office space.
The material was sourced from Geneva Middle School, just 55 miles from Ashley McGraw and 28 miles from our headquarters in Farmington, NY. “Sourcing this so close to our headquarters, from a gym I played sports in, was remarkable,” shares Jered, one of our reclaimed wood experts. “When Ashley McGraw reached out looking for reclaimed wood for their office remodel, I knew immediately that we had the right product. It is a great fit and it feels good when a local company gives reclaimed wood a second life.”
Tony de-nails the gym flooring on-site as we reclaimed it from Geneva Middle School in Geneva, NY. While the planks are checked again at our mill, this initial de-nailing made packaging and shipping much more efficient.
Our friends at Ashley McGraw specialize in school design and were excited to bring iconic school building materials into their space. (They cherish their memories of sometimes winning a game of dodgeball and finding an okay square dancing partner.) The office remodel utilized Geneva Middle School bleachers and gym flooring. Original surfaces were maintained allowing the mixture of court lines and varying school-spirited colors to be celebrated. “It looks like confetti!” said Susan Angarano, Interior Designer with the firm. Tonal differences in the wood from the various schools helped create a border from the circulation spaces into the office areas at the company. Bleacher boards (sans bubble gum) were incorporated as screen walls and ceiling accents.
We salvaged the hard maple flooring and Douglas fir bleachers from the 1920s gymnasium during the building’s deconstruction last spring. As always, special attention was given to maintaining the original appearance of the wood, including surface finishes, bolt-holes, colors, and milling.
Reclaimed from educational institutions across the country, gym flooring can be re-installed as is, with the color schemes creating a random and playful reminder of its source.
“Gym flooring is one of our most colorful reclaimed products with a history most folks quickly relate to,” says Jered. The painted planks from the gymnasium were sorted from the others and used in the circulation spaces of the office, while the remainder of flooring from two other schools was used in the materials library. The old gym flooring has varying lengths, some up to five feet long while the bleachers boards are up to sixteen feet long.
Reclaimed oak boards were used for wall cladding in the break room.
We’ve certainly found likeness in our commitment to sustainability and conserving the world’s resources. “Every day, we challenge ourselves to embrace the possibility of a fully sustainable world,” states Ashley McGraw. “Our contribution is schools and campuses that respect, support, and nurture the learning experience and work in concert with the earth and its resources.”
David Ashley and Ed McGraw founded Ashley McGraw Architects in Syracuse in 1981. Their work includes classrooms, laboratories, recreational, and residential buildings, as well as sustainability strategies and master plans for public and private primary, intermediate, secondary, and high education facilities.
Reclaimed oak boards were used for wall cladding in the entry way.
We recently read an article in Hardwood Floors that gave some really good details on the kiln drying process and its importance to any wood flooring, reclaimed or fresh sawn. We were inspired to dig back in our archives to find a post about our drying process and the steps we take to control moisture. We’ve re-posted it below for your reading pleasure.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking about our kiln in the context of conservation (we use our scraps to fire our kiln, lessening our waste- how cool!) but you might wonder why our kiln is such a big deal at all.
“Pioneer Millworks, why do you dry your wood?”, we’re asked, “If it’s reclaimed, doesn’t that mean it’s already pretty dry?” “Why do I care if it’s dried when I can buy reclaimed barn siding somewhere else for one dollar per square foot?!”
All good questions!
We dry all of the wood that we process into our beautiful reclaimed flooring, siding and wall paneling for a couple of very important reasons. While it is true that reclaimed wood does tend to be drier than fresh sawn products, the raw materials we use are exposed to environmental moisture both at the original site and here at our facility. This means the wood is not quite as dry as it could be, and probably not as dry as your home, or office or restaurant. Our reclaimed planks are dried to a 6%-9% moisture content and ultimately this means that the material is more dimensionally stable when you receive it at your job site. Wet wood shrinks when it loses moisture, and the more moisture it has to lose, the more dramatic the change. This shrinkage can result in cracking and buckling after installation. While all wood expands and contracts as it absorbs and loses a small percentage of moisture over the course of the seasons, it is the significant change that can cause the greatest problems or possible installation failure.
Drying the material also helps us maintain our quality milling. With a consistent moisture content, we can generally be assured that we won’t have a batch of flooring that moves or shrinks to a greater degree than another while it is waiting to be milled or after the milling process.
The other big reason that we take kiln drying so seriously is the possibility of insect infestation. No one wants to think about bugs in their barn siding, but old wood will very likely have, at some point, insects living in or on it. It’s not a very exciting thing to talk about, but it’s a very real concern in the reclaimed wood industry.
The high heat of the kiln drives out and kills any insects that may be inhabiting our reclaimed materials. Kiln drying, like all of the other parts of our production process contributes to material cost, but also ensures that reclaimed floor or paneling you install is product that you will be satisfied with. And we really, really don’t want you to accidentally bring insects into your home (or office, or restaurant – yuck!).
Kiln drying is critical to the quality and value of our products and just one of the many ways we differ from others in the reclaimed wood market. What other questions do you have about our processes and methods? Is there anything else you’re curious about? We love to talk about our products and what sets us apart from the rest…