Wood-Turned Lampshade Threatens Destruction of Pine Rainforest

By Chuck Ray | Posted: 11/08/2013 10:50AM


Another neat video shared by Go Wood reader Tom Donnell. This time, it's a wood-turner producing a wooden lampshade from a section of pine. There are a lot of great wood-turning videos out there, and I like them all, so I haven't posted one yet that I can recall...but this one has great production value, and is among the best I've ever seen, so here it is.

There is a side issue controversy about this video that I think is worth considering. For some reason, many people who viewed the video expressed concern about the issue of "wasting wood" in the process...enough people, so that the person who posted the video felt compelled to post the following defense:

" !!! Please before you write a negative comment about the waste of wood, please realize, this is fast growing pine, it had already been cut down to be used as firewood, the centre of the log is sap wood and is very poor quality, and all the wood chips are reused in another way, for heating, or in the garden. We appreciate your care for nature, and assure you that we too have the same regard for what our planet gives to us."

I browsed the comments on the video to ascertain what the protesters were actually concerned about. And there were quite a few who expressed this concern. I have to say, the logic that was put into these comments shows a level of comprehension of the subject that I can only describe as sheer ignorance. Several earth-righteous commenters made the assertion that the shade could have and should have been made from veneer.

Could have, true, sort of. But it would have an ugly seam, and would not have the rigidity of this product.

Should have...just missing the point of wood-turning and being an eco-ignorant bully.

Another commenter actually stated...

"As far as carbon footprints go, his is huge! How much electricity was used in the time it took for him carve this down?"

I suppose this defender of the earth would have preferred the turner to chisel the shade by hand.

Here's another brilliant observation...

"Although I don't know much about carpentry, he is wasting wood material by carving out all the inside of the log instead of cutting out the core."

Don't you love it when someone starts a sentence with "although I don't know much about the subject..." and then proceeds to give you their opinion anyway?

The sad part of this otherwise idiotic series of exchanges is that they sound very similar to climate change and related progressive justifications for a wide range of regulatory controls over the actions of millions of citizens who are otherwise just going about their own business trying to enjoy and get a little benefit out of a productive life. Well, I'll tell them this....(chortle)...(blood pressure check)...(pop a Xanax)...(ok, ok)...(aahhh).

Well...have a great day, and be careful to be extra sensitive to the environment next time you sharpen a pencil. Use a hand-crank sharpener, and be sure to compost the shavings. We must be mindful of efficient use of our rare natural resources. (Big Smiley Face.)

And Go Wood, if you really have to Go at all, that is.


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About the Author

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations

Chuck Ray

Dr. Charles D. “Chuck” Ray is Associate Professor of Wood Operations Research at Pennsylvania State University. His specialty is in the area of operations research, specifically those operational issues that confront the majority of the wood products sector. He previously spent 15 years in research and quality management for two large building products corporations, Temple-Inland Forest Products and Louisiana-Pacific. Ray is the sixth generation of his family to work in the sawmill industry, the Ray Brothers Lumber Company, established in East Texas before the turn of the last century. He can be reached at cdrpsu@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @ChuckDRay. He maintains an Extension website for Penn State at http://extension.psu.edu/woodpro and also writes a blog on all wood issues called Go Wood which can be found at http://gowood.blogspot.com.

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John Costin, Veneer Services Unlimited    
Maine  |  November, 26, 2013 at 07:26 AM

Dr. Ray wrote, "Several earth-righteous commenters made the assertion that the shade could have and should have been made from veneer. Could have, true, sort of. But it would have an ugly seam, and would not have the rigidity of this product." A competent veneer craftsman (us or others) could definitely make this as a curved plywood cylinder with no visible seam, and it would be more stable and rigid than a log with the center turned out. I'll refrain from joining the discussion about the environmental merits of this product as the result tends to be more heat than light.

Ed Strahota    
Mendota, IL  |  November, 26, 2013 at 08:04 AM

We have a romance with many things wood, log homes, post and beam construction, old barns, dugout canoes, etc., and no one looks at them and says "my what a large carbon footprinit you have!" Wood is the number 1 renewable building product we have, it was oddly voted the most green building material a couple years ago (like, whoda' thunk wood was green???). So here we have a guy who wants to turn a lamp shade out of a hunk of pine that could have just as easily ended up as a stick of firewood (poor firewood at that), but NO, he salvages it in order to make a thing of beauty, and all we can say is "it ain't very green of him"... this begs a response from the human heart, that part that is crying out for things of beauty and grace... not a response from an uninformed populous being fed bogus information on an emotional level. No, we need MORE LAMP SHADES!!! and whatever anyone else can dream up. Wood is good, and it brings us to our knees with thanks and praise for such a beautiful and unique product, a part of creation that, like snowflakes, gives us a fresh face with every pass of the blade!

GA  |  November, 26, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Waste of wood? That's not a waste of wood. Even the "waste", ie. shavings, could be used as mulch. Even if you cut the tree down and left it lying in the forest to rot, it wouldn't be wasted. Bugs would be fed, mulch would be created, earth would be replenished. Trees have been dying and falling down in the forest for millions of years. Carpenters, builders, wood turners, wood workers of all types have been "wasting" wood for centuries, and they're worried about one (renewable) pine tree that got made into a lampshade? People have so little understanding of anything practical anymore.


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