My Votes for the Top Stories of 2010
August 15, 2011 | 5:41 pm CDT
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If you have followed the Woodworking Network Update newsletter the past week, you know that we have featured the most viewed Blogs, Feature ArticlesNews Stories and Videos of 2010.

Reader votes aside,what do I think were the biggest stories for the woodworking industry in 2010?

That is a worthy debate and I wouldn't expect all to agree. But here is what I saw as the top news six headlines of 2010 and why.

1. Big Sleep for Drop-Side Cribs
I realize that only a minimal percentage of our industry makes or sells cribs. But the stakes are high when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission decides to ban a product that millions of parents have trusted for providing a safe, sound sleep for their babies for many decades (as my wife and I did for our three children). After 32 deaths and recalls of nearly 10 million cribs, the CPSC determined that it was no longer a matter of correcting the faulty hardware concerns that were regularly cited as a problem, but instead killing off an entire product category to safeguard babies and infants. What's next? Banning TV/computer carts that have been cited in numerous tip-over children's' injuries and deaths? Your guess is as good as mine.

2. Combustible Dust: An Explosive Issue
A new regulation for combustible dust, including wood dust, continues to be on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulatory docket. What remains to be seen is what will be the threshold for sparing wood shops, especially those, that spew a relatively small amount of dust, to comply.

3. Wood Formaldehyde Rule Is Law of the Land
U.S. Congress pretty much adopted the California Air Resource Board's wood composite panel emission standard to create a federal law. The wood products industry, led by the Composite Panel Association, applauded Congress' vote because it created a national standard that wood companies already selling to products into California had to meet. However, the issue is not totally resolved. In September, 10 wood-related industry associations joined together requesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider some of the information it plans as the basis of its toxicological review of formaldehyde inhalation. The review conceivably could become the basis for an even more stringent federal regulation on composite wood products.

4. Fall Out at the International Woodworking Fair 
The world's largest woodworking machinery manufacturing companies pulled out of IWF in Atlanta, most of them citing the dire economy in doing so. The show went on as woodworking  and was much smaller in exhibits and attendance than any in my attendance since 1986. But, that said, IWF 2010 demonstrated that the industry, as maligned as it has been of recent, still very much has a pulse.

5. FSC Still LEED's One & Only
Hardly a big surprise, but members of the U.S. Green Building Council voted to uphold the Forest Stewardship Council as the only wood certification scheme for which will award LEED certification points. The fact that the vote came up at all would seem to indicate that it is just a matter of time that USGBC recognize all credible certified woods as being worthy of LEED points. I'm still waiting to see a certification developed that would put steel and other building materials that are far less environmental than wood be put to the checks and balances of a third-party audit.

6. Mill's Pride to Shut Down
I add this to my list for a couple of reasons. First, I had the opportunity to write the only two case studies published about the company's mega manufacturing compound. Both articles were written in the 1990s before Masco Corp. purchased Mill's Pride in 1999. Second, Masco, which also owns Merillat, Kraftmaid and Quality Cabinets, is the largest manufacturer of cabinets in North America. In addition to putting on notice that it plans to shutter its Mill's Pride division as early as this month, Masco closed a pair of Merillat facilities last year, including the flagship plant in Adrian, MI. Finally, what I look for as a true sign that the housing and cabinet market has turned around, is an announcement from Masco that it will reopen the Kraftmaid plant in Utah that was developed for more than $100 million just a few years ago.

I'm all ears to get your take on any of the story lines I mentioned or should have. Contact me at [email protected].

May the new year of the new decade be good for all.

Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.

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