The top stories of 2017

Home Depot, massive plywood, and fractal burning were just a few of the topics that dominated traffic this year at Woodworking Network. Take a look at the year's top nine stories:

Home Depot & Menards under fire over lumber sizes

Home Depot and Menards each faced a class-action suit in June over claims they deceived lumber buyers on board sizes. The plaintiffs were seeking than $5 million, saying they were "misled" because boards marketed by their nominal size descriptions such as "4 x 4," were actually 3-1/2 x 3/12 inches in size. The home centers claimed they shouldn’t be held liable for labeling boards by their nominal size, a common industry practice.

In a follow-up article, Menards had its lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge. Judge Edmond Chang said no reasonable consumers would regard Menards' lumber descriptions the way plaintiffs Michael Fuchs and Vladislav Krasilnikov did. Chang said the lumber, when it is produced, is typically trimmed to smooth after the initial rough cut. The government endorsement of the industry practice supports Menards’ argument that it did not falsely market its lumber.

Customized downdraft table & workstation boost shop efficiency

Other than Michigan-based Two Waters Woodworking's custom-designed furniture, home bars, man-cave decor, and tables, what stands out most is the shop's efficiency.

Two Waters' owner Pete Goetz built himself a multi-functional workstation that encompasses his table saw, miter saw, and router table.

"Was unsure on how large I wanted to make this, debated back and forth between 3' and 4' wide," Goetz wrote on his company's Facebook page, where he regularly posts his work. "I'm so glad I went 4' wide (4'×8'). Talk about efficiency, I used it for 10 plus hours today and it was awesome. Should have done this a long time ago. It's on wheels (locking) and moves around easy."

Goetz has also engineered his own downdraft table.

"Just finished engineering my first downdraft table," he says. "It has a 2.5 hp motor - the suction is amazing, 5" intake. Should have done this a long time ago - been relying on two air filtration systems that don't even compare."

Massive plywood panels could revolutionize construction

Freres Lumber Co. hopes its new-to-market, veneer-based massive plywood panels will revolutionize construction.

The Oregon-based manufacturer announced its new veneer-based panels in October after more than a year of development and performance testing at Oregon State’s Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. Freres says the panels, known as Mass Plywood Panels (MPP), could be used for floors and walls in multi-story commercial buildings, and they could be made to order.

Designed to be an alternative to cross-laminated timber, Freres’ massive panels can be as much 12-feet wide, 48-feet long and 2-feet thick. Structures made of MPP could be made in days instead of months, says Freres, and use 20-30 percent less wood than cross-laminated timber. The lightweight nature of MPP could reduce truckload transport costs. Large format panels could be manufactured at a facility to include window, door, and all other required cut-outs – minimizing waste and labor on the job site.

Bosch Reaxx saw banned by ITC

A ruling handed down by the U.S. International Trade Commission blocked the importing and sales of the new Bosch Reaxx safety saw to United States customers after the commission found the saw violates patents held by SawStop.

Announced January 27, the ruling concludes an investigation prompted by SawStop officials, charging that the Bosch Reaxx saw violated multiple patents held by SawStop. The commission found that the Reaxx saw, which is sold in the United States by Robert Bosch Tool Corp., did indeed violate two patents held by SawStop.

Bosch vowed to appeal the ruling and to promise continued customer support.

SawStop applauded the ruling.

Death prompts ban on fractal burning

The pre-eminent association for wood turners in the United States has issued a ban on a controversial process for using high-voltage electricity to create designs in wood because the technique has reportedly resulted in at least one death of a craftsperson.

The American Association of Woodturners Safety Committee issued a policy against fractal burning, also known as Lichtenberg, banning it from AAW events.

Unilin explosion kills employee, sends another to ER

A big explosion rocked Unilin’s wood product plant in Montgomery County, North Carolina Tuesday – killing one employee and sending another to the hospital.

Local news sources reported both of the men were airlifted to nearby hospitals for burn treatment after the explosion. Seedy Bah, a nine-year veteran of the company, died at the hospital the next morning.

"We are deeply saddened to learn that Mr. Seedy Bah passed away at around 2:30 am on May 17," said Unilin in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

The company said Bah was well-liked by all of his colleagues.

Rockler’s miter fold dado set turns plywood into a box in four cuts

With just four passes on the table saw, Rockler says its Miter Fold Dado Set turns a flat sheet of plywood or hardwood into a box with four sides and a top or bottom. The Miter Fold Dado Set was an AWFS 2017 Visionary Award finalist.

The blade cuts a profiled channel through most of the wood, leaving just the face veneer intact. The joint is then folded, hinging on the veneer, which leaves a seamless corner, and grain that flows through the joint.

Millions of California oak trees are dying

A pathogen causing a phenomenon known as ‘sudden oak death’ has killed millions of oak and tanoak trees in California’s coastal forests since 1995.

It doesn’t affect all trees, but it has a devastating effect on those it does. Traveling through water and wind, the pathogen (Phytophthora ramorum) is a mold that causes tree trunks to crack open and bleed out sap.

“Millions of acres of land have been affected in coastal California,” said Richard Cobb, a postdoc at the University of California, Davis, in an interview with the Washington Post. “It spreads via wind and rain, and it’s made some really big jumps to different parts of the state and into Oregon. It probably spread into California via the nursery trade. And it has been moved around the country a lot, also within the nursery trade.”

Industry-driven MiLL training center opens

64 industry partners have come together to open MiLL, a 46,000-square-foot manufacturing training center for high school students, college students, and professionals.

The Manufacturing Industry Learning Labs started its first classes for students in August. In early October, the MiLL welcomed industry partners, educators and students to see the rapid progress of the training center at a special open house event that demonstrated the industry’s support.

The shop floor is filled with equipment and signs to recognize the many industry partners. Machines include a Weeke CNC router, Stiles edgebander, Timesavers sander, Altendorf table saw, SCM case clamp, Striebig panel saw, JLT clamping systems, eight TigerStops, many Kreg products, Bessey clamps and Rikon machinery.


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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].